Forensic science is often mixed with forensic psychology, mainly owing to the media dramatization of science and crime fiction. While criminalistics or application of science to criminology and investigation is a vast field of its own, forensic psychology refers to the application of psychology to the criminal justice system. However, the expectations from a forensic psychologist may vary depending on the scope of his assigned role. Hence, a forensic psychologist could serve as an evaluator, jury consultant, a fact witness, or work in a more conventional role of a therapist. Considering the importance of a forensic psychologist in unwinding social issues, a clear understanding of the profession is crucial.
This article presents detailed information regarding the nature of a forensic psychologist’s job and its effectiveness in mitigating judicial issues and social services. It is pertinent to mention that a forensic psychologist’s services work in coherence to form the criminal justice system. Perhaps, most forensic psychologists are individuals willing to do meaningful work with a keen interest in resolving complex social issues.
Understanding the True Nature of Forensic Psychology
Before we delve into the discussion of applying forensic psychology to social services, understanding the true nature of forensic psychology is critical. In the simplest terms, forensic psychology is the practical application of psychology to the legal system or clinical psychology to apply its learnings to court. One must not confuse a forensic psychologist with a forensic psychiatrist.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctorate holder, while a psychologist usually holds a Ph.D. The key difference is that a forensic psychiatrist is a licensed practitioner and has the authority to prescribe medications. However, a forensic psychologist is entrusted with the responsibility to conduct psychological assessments and treatment programs for those struggling with mental illnesses. Their profession restricts them from running an independent, unbiased background check of parents. Often being representatives of child and social service organizations, their job is to keep children’s best interests as a top priority.
It is a dynamic sub-field of the broader study of psychology. It is a rapidly expanding field and gained significant traction in the past few decades. Students interested in criminology, the justice system, and law enforcement can take advantage of this emerging science. If you are a student and intrigued by this profession’s nature, it would be best to apply for an online forensic psychology degree and become a practitioner.
What constitutes a forensic psychologist?
Social services organizations such as child protection bureaus and other human rights protection organizations actively employ forensic psychology graduates and practitioners. A forensic psychologist plays a critical role in social issues such as divorces, child custody, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and juvenile offenses.
Forensic psychologists also assist in treating offenders in correctional facilities, especially with regards to juvenile offenders. Governments and organizations invest time and resources into programs aimed at curtailing juvenile recidivism. Undoubtedly, forensic psychologists play a leading role in treating offenders through therapy and intervention programs. They also work as part-detectives to identify criminal’s behavior sources by examining an offender’s personal lives and their circle of influence. Forensic Psychologists are also directly involved in observing and validating courtroom testimony and give legal consultation and advice, especially in sensitive cases such as child custody.
How can forensic psychologists assist social services?
Forensic Psychologists help control and reduce rates of juvenile offenses through successful child protection programs, reducing re-offenders cases through counseling and guidance. They also identify traumas amongst troubled individuals with minor offenses to mitigate the risks of committing major crimes in the future. While such applications of forensic psychology in social services qualify under rehabilitation, practitioners also play a crucial role in identifying patterns of behavior to determine offenders more likely to re-commit the same or a new crime.
Following their job roles, forensic Psychologists also enjoy the privilege and responsibility of standing as an expert witness in a court hearing. Any conclusions or analysis they put forward hold value in the eyes of the court. The final verdicts of these psychologists assist in determining court decisions. Families and children get directly affected by the recommendations of forensic psychologists. They also have the power to influence court punishments in favor of lenient sentences for offenders struggling with deep-rooted mental illnesses due to past traumas. However, this makes their job all the more difficult as they have to maintain objectivity when exposed to victims and offenders’ harsh realities. Also, they are the initial witness of the victim or offender’s sufferings first-hand.
Forensic Psychologists hold significant power or sway over other members of society due to their crucial job role. Becoming and working as a forensic psychologist is a tough job indeed. The job nature of forensic psychologists connects them with the most vulnerable members of society. It, therefore, becomes the responsibility of a forensic psychologist to ensure impartiality, eliminate bias, and assist in providing justice to the victims.