Psychology is a popular area of study for traditional university students and those who are earning their degrees online.
It is also a common theme for television dramas, especially forensic psychology. What is forensic psychology, and what kinds of careers are based in the discipline?
Definition of Forensic Psychology
The American Psychological Association defines forensic psychology as the “application of clinical specialties to the legal arena.” Because this field of psychology is relatively new, its definition and areas of practice are evolving. Some experts define it as including institutions and anyone involved with the legal process.
That opens the door for psychologists specializing in social psychology who want to use their disciplines to impact crime. In other words, forensic psychology could be rightly termed criminal psychology.
Career Opportunities in Forensic Psychology
Because of that broader definition, many careers in criminal psychology have developed. With a master’s degree in psychology, professionals can claim lucrative and exciting positions in many legal areas. Many excellent accredited online programs lead to forensic psychology degrees and specializations for many careers in this arena. A few of these careers are:
1 Correctional Counselor
This psychologist does face-to-face counseling with inmates of correctional institutions as well as working in group counseling formats. They conduct evaluations of inmates to make recommendations about paroles and conduct classes such as “Impact of Crime on Victims” to address recidivism.
2 Probation Officer
The probation officer works directly with offenders supervising those who have attained early release or those placed on probation for a crime. Their evaluations are used by the courts to determine release dates.
Additionally, probation officers support their clients in finding work and building lifestyle patterns for successful living. They may work with the families of their clients as well and may even testify in court. Probation officers are members of the law enforcement because they can arrest those who do not comply with the conditions of their probation.
3 Victim’s Advocate
A victim’s advocate works to support the victims of crime. They help victims understand the legal procedures and ramifications of legal developments and inform them about their rights. In the course of their duties, they may attend court with victims. They may also help victims find counselors and other resources to help them recover from the crime.
4 Jury Consultant
The TV series “Bull” features this professional. A jury consultant works with lawyers to select appropriate jurors. They may also evaluate witness testimony and help legal representatives from either side understand jury reactions to court developments by noting things such as juror body language.
5 Crime Analyst
This career is distinct from the similar “police consultant” because it generally concerns crime patterns and data. Crime analysts look at demographics in high-crime areas and observe economic factors, education, and other factors that impact the prevalence of crime in specific populations or regions. While their findings may affect individual crimes, they are most often directed at lowering crime rates in general.
These specialties in criminal psychology are only a few of the careers available. There is a demand for psychologists who can work with juvenile offenders, counsel child victims, and witnesses, and evaluate people with emotional and cognitive limitations for their ability to present testimony.
The field, as is noted, is young and still evolving. A master’s or higher degree from a reputable place like CareersInPsychology.org is a core requisite for careers in forensic psychology. Students may find online programs allow them to earn their degrees faster and possibly with less expense than those who study in traditional classrooms.