Forensic Psychology

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When a person is asked what their idea of what a psychologist is, they might automatically think or respond “a therapist”. In reality, many psychologists also work as teachers, consultants, researchers, etc. across many different job sectors (Huffman, 2009). Some specialty areas of psychology include clinical, developmental, experimental, forensic, and social, among others. The field of psychology I chose to explore a little further is that of forensic psychology. According to Huffman (2009), this field applies the principles of psychology to the legal system, including jury selection and psychological profiling.

Forensic psychology is not just what we see portrayed on TV shows or in movies. These types of media make us think that a forensic psychologist deals only with the psychological profiling of dangerous criminals, and while some may specialize in this area, the field of forensic psychology encompasses so much more. After searching the PsycARTICLES database, I found an article that explained the opportunities and obstacles of this field. According to Packer (2008), in addition to providing expertise in areas of criminal law ranging from competence to stand trial to evaluating for an insanity plea, forensic psychologists also lend their knowledge to civil and family law as well. They can cover areas pertaining to divorce mediation, child custody and personal injury, among others.

This has not always been the case though. Packer (2008) stated that whenever mental health expertise was needed during much of the early 20th Century, the courts would call upon psychiatrists to provide their knowledge. This was until a landmark case (Jenkins v U.S., 1962) changed the view of the courts. The presiding judge ruled that properly trained psychologists could be recognized as experts in the field of mental health disorders. As a result, the expert knowledge of psychologists is broadly used by the legal system today. So much so, that it has created a sort...
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