Forensic Psychology Programs

Forensic psychology programs teach individuals the application of psychology in criminal situations. There are many different tracks for forensic psychology, depending upon which industry niche individuals want to build their careers in. Most programs will consist of a great deal of research and reading, but there are some great hands on opportunities as well. Those who plan to enter these programs should know a bit about what to expect in advance.

Studying Human Behavior

Forensic psychology programs will go in-depth with psychology, helping students gain a good understanding of the different factors in a personís life that make them behave a certain way. Students will study different social situations, cultures, backgrounds, races and upbringings to analyze them and compare them to different displayed behaviors. They will often have the chance to study criminal behavior in an attempt to profile the individual who committed the crime. This can be put to work later in criminal profiling work, either in a law enforcement or clinical setting.

Studying Mental Health Conditions

Often times, forensic psychologists work with police officers and the court to determine competency. The determination may need to be made in order to determine whether a criminal can defend himself or herself, or whether they should be placed in a prison or mental health environment. Competency decisions are often made based on whether individuals display signs of mental health disorders. Students will study those mental health disorders as well as signs and symptoms of those disorders and how individuals with them behave.

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Civil Cases

Not all forensic psychologists will work with criminals or criminal law. There are many situations in civil cases when a forensic psychologist is needed to evaluate the extent of trauma a victim has suffered, typically to determine the amount of damages deserved by the victim. For these reasons, forensic psychology students will learn how to assess the victims of trauma who may be suffering emotionally or psychologically due to events that have taken place in their lives.

Expert Testimony

Forensic psychologist students will learn the ins and outs of the courtroom as well since many are called on to provide expert testimony in different cases. They will learn how to speak to the jury and how to put complicated ideas, psychological issues and problems into easily understood terms. Often times, the forensic psychologist will be needed to convince the jury of the mindset of or the psychological effects that have been experienced by a criminal or a victim. They may need to evaluate potential risks or hazards of different court decisions, such as letting an individual free or placing them in prison.

Forensic psychology programs are very research-based and students will get the chance to learn a great deal about how the mind works and how itís affected by different scenarios, traumas, upbringings and other important factors. This information and knowledge will be put to great use when the individual enters the workforce and begins building his or her career in the field, regardless of the branch they choose.