Forensic Psychology 101

Forensic psychology is one of the most important fields within the psychology and criminal justice fields, and it plays a critical role in many court cases. What is forensic psychology, and how does it operate alongside the criminal justice system?

Forensic Psychology

In simple terms, you can think of forensic psychology as the intersection between the criminal justice system and psychology. However, forensic work is different from other types of psychology operating in the same vicinity, like correctional psychology or police psychology. Forensic psychologists aim to answer psycho-legal questions based on detailed psychological assessments and other scientific and medical information to gauge the impact of a traumatic brain injury or intellectual disability.

What Do Forensic Psychologists Do?

The primary duty of a forensic psychologist is answering psycho-legal questions in a court of law. While that might seem like a narrow duty, there are numerous places where their services are needed. Some forensic psychologists work in prisons and correctional facilities to evaluate the competency of inmates or complete violence risk assessments. What is competency? In a criminal context, it means the defendant’s mental state after the crime was committed. If someone is not deemed competent to stand trial, they cannot be convicted of a crime. For example, a forensic psychologist could complete a comprehensive range of written and verbal tests to see whether a defendant can understand the gravity of the crime and their competency to stand trial. This is critical to ensuring that justice is carried out.

Others work in a courthouse, where they could serve as an evaluator in cases involving substance abuse or guardianship disputes. If an elder is a witness or victim in a court case, these psychologists could come in to evaluate them before evidence or testimony is considered permissible in court. Others, like the team at Reflect Neuropsychology, work in private practice to work with all of the above and more. For example, forensic psychologists can be hired by lawyers to assess a defendant or client preparing to take the stand in court. They could also be used to judge the mental wellbeing of a client. The work that forensic psychologists do requires a great deal of knowledge and care, as questions that are seemingly innocuous are often used to collect important data for evaluation.

Rely on Skilled and Experienced Forensic Psychologists with Reflect Neuropsychology

Reflect Neuropsychology is a leading neuropsychology firm in Southern California, specializing in counseling, therapy and neuropsychological assessment of children, adolescents and adults. We also can address your medicolegal needs and provide expert witness testimony, legal examination of medical records as well as independent medical examinations for capacity assessments and more. As a highly specialized practice, we can focus on evidence-based, personally tailored treatment and evaluation. To learn more about our services and schedule an appointment, visit us online or call us at (818) 324-3800.

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