What Does A Forensic Psychologist Do?
Forensic psychologists are professionals whose work is at the intersection of psychology and the legal system. They apply scientific and psychological principles to questions of law, especially in matters involving crime and criminals. In many cases, they are asked to provide expert testimony in court which will have a bearing on the decision to acquit or declare the accused guilty. Part of their work in this area involves evaluating whether a suspect is mentally insane since this is often a defense used that can acquit criminals.
Forensic psychologists are often called on to explain the motives behind a criminal act. They help lawyers, judges and jury members understand the reasons of a suspect’s actions and enable them to understand how someone’s history and upbringing could influence the commission of a crime.
The work of a forensic psychologist happens even before the case is brought to court. They are called upon to collaborate with law enforcement authorities so the latter understands how a criminal thinks. Through the expertise of forensic psychologists, they are able to determine who a serial killer is going to victimize next or are able to figure out how best to catch a suspect. They may also be called upon to teach police officers on the best way to interrogate those who are involved in crimes so that they confess or provide information that could lead to the arrest of the one who really committed the crime.
Profiling is the most popular task that forensic psychologists are known for. They look at crime scenes to check for clues that are left by the perpetrators in order to determine their motives and even their identities. Law enforcers find this information absolutely essential especially if they are trying to track down the doer of a crime when there are no witnesses to give information or when the witness is not sure about what he has seen.
Forensic psychologists may be asked to deal with juvenile offenders. Minors who have committed serious crimes like rape or murder as well as incidents involving gangs with teenage members need to be handled by experts. Forensic psychologists provide crucial insight to law enforcers about what is going on in the minds of these juvenile offenders. They also work together with children who have been victimized by violent crime, helping them get on the road towards healing and recovery. Forensic psychologists also work with the families of children who have suffered from these kinds of crimes. They don’t only help them process what has happened but also give them comfort and clarity in these very trying times.
When it comes to helping individuals, doing rehabilitation work is also part of the job of forensic psychologists. In this role, they work directly with convicts in giving them therapy so that they can be reformed and rehabilitated. Therapy may also be geared towards letting prisoners deal with their past and make them realize the wrongfulness of their actions. Hopefully, this kind of therapy will pave the way for true rehabilitation on the part of the convict.
Forensic psychologists usually provide counseling in their clinics. They usually go to prisons and other institutions to meet and evaluate suspects. This part of their work can be dangerous at times since they could sometimes be seeing hardened criminals in one room. Aggression from these suspects or convicts which have hurt psychologists in the past have been reported and this is one of the threats that these professionals face on the job.
Forensic psychologists may also conduct research or teach in universities even as they meet clients. Research is a very important component of forensic psychology since breakthroughs in this field are made when there are studies done. Their studies can focus on the patterns of criminal activity or be an attempt to look closer into a particular case so as to better understand criminal behavior.
After conducting research, they write their report and send these to industry journals for publication. Forensic psychologists who also teach while doing their practice will also have to meet the responsibilities of teachers. These include writing lesson plans, facilitating discussions, administering tests, advising students on their research and giving grades.