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What Are Forensic Psychologists?

Forensic Psychologist

The social scientific discipline of psychology is incredibly large, vast and varied. Practically speaking, you can find well over a dozen different types of psychologists operating. While psychology generally deals in the same behaviours, there are different ways to practice this science and many sub-disciplines under the umbrella. Of all the many different types of psychology offered out there, forensic psychology is the one most people have trouble understanding. They view forensic psychologists in the same realm as geneticists or other scientists who might deal with crime scenes. The word "forensic" does make it sound as if they're dealing in blood spatter and fingerprints, but they're actually still just psychologists.

If you were going to see a psychologist for personal issues, then you would be visiting a clinical practitioner anyway, as opposed to a forensic practitioner. While they both deal in psychology, the fields to which they apply their talents are very different. So, to clear up any possible confusion that some may have surrounding the topic, let's speak a bit about forensic psychology below to help you better understand the discipline.

What a Forensic Psychologist Is and Does

What really separates forensic psychologists from other types of psychologists is where they practice their science at. Forensic psychologists practise within the legal system. Rather than opening up a practice that takes on regular clients, they're usually contracted to work with the Crown's prosecution, private defence lawyers, or some sort of law enforcement that needs psychology work done for cases. So, these psychologists will spend a lot of time dealing with people who have been accused of crimes and people who are hardened criminals. Needless to say, it takes a special kind of person to practise forensic psychology. It can be dangerous at times, but it's always going to be dark, as they're dealing with the minds of some pretty dark individuals.

Forensic Psychologist

4 Top Qualities of a Good Forensic Psychologist

1: Objectivity

Perhaps the quality that stands out the most with a forensic practitioner is their objectivity. As mentioned above, they're going to be dealing with darkness. More than the individual subject often, it's the story of what happened in the case that can get to most people. Most people are going to form biases and notions based on what's happening in the legal case. A psychologist has to be 100% objective and not take sides. This is something that's hard to do for anyone, and so forensic practitioners have an extra layer of objectivity that most do not.

2: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking skills are also a must in this field. The job is going to require a lot more research than actual one-on-one time with suspects. Psychologists are looking for links and causes of incidents, and they're essentially playing detectives with the logical and scientific aspects of any legal proceeding. Being hyper-intelligent is pretty much a prerequisite for such a position, and only those with ample critical thinking skills will excel.

3: Attention to Detail

Every little detail matters in a legal case. Every single one, no matter how small. One tiny missed detail can be the difference in a guilty person walking free or an innocent person ending up in jail. So it's no small feat at all to work as a forensic practitioner. These individuals must have an eye for detail along with an incredible amount of patience so that they can comb through known details and find those little specks that others have missed.

4: Good Communication

It also takes excellent communication skills. Being an effective communicator is a big part of working as a forensic psychologist. The forensic practitioner has to be able to communicate with people face to face, including people that they may be frightened of; though, they also have to be able to communicate in writing. This is a required skill of a good forensic psychologist.

There aren't a whole lot of people who tip their hat in the ring of forensic psychology. It's not a job for the faint of heart, and it takes a whole lot of patience and dedication to the field to achieve any sort of career. This is why the best forensic psychologist practitioners are easy to find, as they're the ones willing to put in the work for this thankless career.


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