We will be looking at the best route on how to become a forensic psychologist anyone who wishes to pursue a career in forensic psychology should know.
If you find yourself being drawn to the mental and psychological process used in solving crimes or legal cases, then you might have what it takes to be a forensic psychologist.
If the logic and cognitive calculations used in unraveling crimes interests you, the best place to live up to the full potential is to take up a course in forensic psychology. In today’s update, we shall give a full detailed analysis of how to become a forensic psychologist.
We shall detail the requirements, program duration, and certifications needed to become a forensic psychologist.
Forensic psychology is one of the most logical jobs because it involves deep critical and strategic thinking. One will also need to be good at analyzing and reading criminal minds.
- Who is a Forensic Psychologist?
A forensic psychologist is basically someone that studies brain functions, behavioral patterns, and emotions and then applies them in solving criminal cases.
They are also part of the legal system as their services are also employed in analyzing some criminal actions.
They are mainly found in institutions connected to the law. Forensic psychologists can also fit in the school, hospital, detention centers, law courts, engage in private practice, or other related jobs.
- What do Forensic Psychologists do?
Similar to what we mentioned earlier, the job of a Forensic Psychologist is versatile and cuts across many fields.
However, they are mainly seen at crime scenes. Helping detectives and officers interpret the possible motive behind a crime and solve some puzzling unexplained logic behind it.
They are also seen in the courtroom where they can tell if one is mentally stable enough to stand trial and also conduct personal counseling and interview for the accused. The Forensic Psychologist can equally work in the hospital or provide private counseling to clients.
How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
Depending on the area of specialty, it could take close to 6-10 years to become a fully certified forensic psychologist.
Do not be discouraged by the length of time as one could be also employed with internship jobs while studying for higher degrees and certificates in Forensic Psychology.
Forensic Psychology is very deep and requires more than just a B.sc to start off. That is the reason one must obtain a Masters’s Degree certificate, doctoral, and Ph.D. to become a fully certified forensic psychologist.
Obtain an Undergraduate Degree:
The first step toward becoming a forensic expert is to enroll in an undergraduate degree.
This is where you are exposed to the basic underlying facts and intricate areas of the profession. It takes 4 years to complete.
After the first 4 years of your undergraduate degree, it is only important you enroll in an internship. An internship under a licensed Forensic Psychologist increases your chance of getting accepted for a Masters’s Degree.
Masters Degree/Doctoral Degree:
A master’s degree takes approximately 2 years to finish. This is where the student is introduced to the core areas and is absorbed more into the practice of becoming a psychologist. You will be made to work in institutions like detention centers, schools, courtrooms, etc. where the experience will prepare you for a Ph.D. and licensing.
On the other hand, a doctoral degree that takes 4 years to complete is also important. It is important, especially in states that make it mandatory before one can apply for a Forensic Psychologist License.
How to Obtain Forensic Psychologist License:
Obtaining a license is usually the final step toward becoming a licensed and certified forensic psychologist. The process is not the same for all states as legislation and authority regulation create the difference between the states.
However, one must provide evidence of completion of a Masters’s and a doctoral program as well as work experience. A final professional exam must also be passed before you can be licensed to start practicing.
In addition to all listed above, the knowledge needed to excel as a forensic psychologist is a continuous process therefore, psychologists are always advised to avail themselves of seminars, workshops, and special courses among many others to continue updating their knowledge in the field.
It appears to be a long way on how to become a forensic psychologist but in the long run, it is all worth it.
Skills Required of a Forensic Psychologist
The skills required of forensic psychologists cut across many lines because of the logic and deep critical thinking needed to excel in this field.
They are further grouped into Soft and Hard Skills. The hard skills deal mainly with acquired skills while soft relates more to the traits expected of the forensic psychologist.
- Hard Skills
- Active Listening: Active listening here deals with being patient and giving absolute attention to what you are being told. Here you can use notes and voice recorders in other to deduce your observations later. Listening actively is one important skill you cannot do away with if you want to become a forensic psychologist.
- Counseling Techniques: Counseling is usually the primary purpose of psychology. As a forensic expert, you are to form a good connection with your client to be able to analyze the motives behind their action and behaviors.
- Clinical Research: A good number of times, to arrive at a logical understanding of certain situations one needs to conduct a series of researches. Extensive research on mental health and the behavioral pattern is an integral part of being a forensic psychologist.
- Data Analysis: To arrive at logical conclusions on certain investigations, one needs to be able to analyze information and data gathered from the client or crime scene. Then apply the findings before arriving at the root of the problem.
- Soft Skills
- Critical Thinking: The ability to reason beyond the surface and go deeper forms one of the basic traits needed to excel in this field.
- Objectivity: In forensics, things don’t always appear the way we see them. Hence the need to put all personal biases and sentiments aside and become objective while approaching certain issues.
- Communication: Because of the many logics involved in this field, it will be hard to excel if one struggles to effectively communicate with people. You are going to work with other people ask questions and challenge some norms. Therefore, you really need to be an effective communicator to get it right.
- Compassion: When you show compassion to clients in certain situations, it could make it easier for them to open up to you. It creates an avenue for you to deeply connect with their situation and offer the needed help.
Tools Needed by a Forensic Psychologist
In addition to the required skills, there are quite a handful of tools needed in the everyday work of a forensic psychologist. If you are looking at how to become a forensic psychologist you should also learn how to use these tools.
Personal computer, Statistical data software, DSM-5, Personality tests Computer, spreadsheet software Medical software Dictaphone and Electromyography.
Like jobs for forensic psychologist
Here is a summary of some common job roles listed below:
- Consulting with law firms
- Evaluating the competency of convicted criminals
- Evaluating the risk of reoffence from a person
- Serving as trial consultants to help with jury selection, witness preparation, or legal strategies
- Providing sentencing recommendations
- Giving testimony as an expert witness
- Evaluating Child custody conditions
- Academic study and research on criminality
- Providing psychological treatment for criminal offenders
- Provide psychological services to inmates and offenders
- Designing correctional programs
7 categories of forensic psychology
Although the duties and job roles of a forensic psychologist cut across various psychological and justice systems, it is categorized into these seven(7) sectors.
- Researchers: they collect and disseminate psychological data and information related to various legal issues.
- Advisors: they provide attorneys with an informed understanding of the role that psychology can play in legal cases. They also provide them with necessary advice relating to their field of work and function.
- Consultants: explain the practical implications of relevant research, examination findings, and the opinions of other psycholegal experts.
- Examiners: they evaluate a person’s performance and present findings and recommendations to a lawyer, a court, an employer, an insurance company, or other parties who may be interested.
- Treatment providers: provide therapeutic services tailored to the issues and context of a legal proceeding.
- Mediators/Negotiators: serve in a third-party neutral role and assist parties in resolving disputes.
- Arbiters/Special Masters/Case Managers: serve parties, attorneys, and the courts in a decision-making capacity.
Schools in the United Kingdom that offer degrees in forensic psychology
Below is a list of top Universities in the UK that offer degrees in forensic psychology:
- University of Kingston
- University of Lincoln
- Kings College London University of London
- University of Bedfordshire
- University of Portsmouth
- Granfield University
- Royal Holloway University of London
- Kings College London University of London
- University of Wolverhampton
- Teesside University
- Manchester Metropolitan University
- University of Gloucestershire
- Cardiff Metropolitan University
- Swansea University
- University of Bournemouth
- University of Bath
- University of Liverpool
- University of Manchester
- University of Winchester
- Glasgow Caledonian University
Conclusion on How to Become a Forensic Psychologist
A forensic psychologist is someone that can be trusted with the absolute outcome of an investigation or research.
That is why it takes quite a long length of years to get certified in the field. As a psychologist, don’t let your emotions get a better half of you or becloud your conclusions. Remain objective and not sentimental.
The more you practice the more experienced you become and continue to improve on the field.