What is forensic psychology?
The word “forensic” refers to the legal system. Forensic matters include anything related to the application and enforcement of the law, as well as the prosecution of those who violate the law.
Forensic psychology is a relatively new field but it is growing rapidly. Forensic psychologists are involved with many aspects of both civil and criminal law. In matters of civil law, they are involved with competency and disability evaluations, as well as divorce mediation and custody evaluations. In criminal cases, they perform evaluations of the mental state of the defendant (particularly in insanity pleas), and provide expert testimony on relevant psychological factors.
Forensic psychologists may also provide psychotherapy for prison inmates, including specific programs for violent or sexual offenders. They also work directly with law enforcement officials. They screen applicants for the police force and can provide stress management, grief work, and trauma counseling to police officers and other members of law enforcement. Finally, forensic psychologists perform scientific research on such topics as the reliability of children’s testimony, recidivism of sex offenders, impulsivity and aggression, and juvenile delinquency.