Forensic Psychology Subspecialities

Topics: Psychology, Police, Crime Pages: 21 (3416 words) Published: July 22, 2014

Forensic Psychology Subspecialties
TaShara Smith
Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
Walden University
May 18, 2014

The field of psychology is constantly evolving due to new research and techniques that have been proven to be more effective. Forensic psychology is very diverse field with a wide range of specialty areas. These specialty areas were created to allow psychologists to focus on one specific area. This paper will focus on roles and responsibilities of the six subspecialties of forensic psychology; criminal, juvenile, civil, investigative, correctional and police. This paper will also address ethical dilemmas and how to they can be resolved; as well as addressing controversial issues a forensic psychology professional may face. Criminal Psychology

Major Roles
Criminal psychology is the study of criminals, intentions, reactions, behavior and most importantly their patterns. Criminal psychologists have many roles and responsibilities; but the major role is to study why people commit crime. Along with studying why people commit crime a criminal psychologists may also be called upon to assess a criminal to determine what their risk is for recidivism and to determine their competency to stand trial. Another major role that a criminal psychologist has is assisting law enforcement in solving crimes and providing expert testimony. Criminal psychologists must also be responsible for familiarizing themselves with laws that concern mental health and criminal behavior. Case Influence

There are many court cases that influenced the practice of criminal psychology such as People vs. Hawthorne 1940. In the case People vs. Hawthorne a man killed his wife and plead not guilty by reason of insanity. During the trial the court refused to allow a criminal psychologist with a PhD to provide expert testimony and because of this issue the case went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined that the trial court should have accepted the expert testimony from the psychologist; they also ruled that acceptance of an expert testimony should not be based on if the person has a medical degree. The qualification for an expert witness is based on their knowledge in that area. The ruling in the case created controversy because many people believed that in order for a psychologist to provide expert testimony about insanity that a medical degree should be needed because insanity is a disease. Ethical Dilemmas

The American Psychological Association set guidelines that psychologist must adhere to in order to avoid ethical dilemmas or concerns that could arise. Psychologists put forth a great deal of effort in trying to avoid unethical situations; but sometimes no matter how much effort is put forth those situations become unavoidable. Confidentiality is one of the most common ethical dilemmas that criminal psychologists face. In criminal psychology clients are usually there on an involuntary basis and more than likely have limited or no opportunity to direct their treatment. Criminal psychologists often times do not follow traditional confidentiality rules especially when their role at that moment is in an evaluative context. According to the APA a psychologist should at all times be clear about why confidential information is disclosed. In order to resolve a dilemma with confidentiality one would need to be upfront about the situation and ensure there was a legitimate reason why confidentiality was broken. Another common ethical dilemma in criminal psychology is malingering; at times people tend to try to exaggerate how severe their symptoms are. For example a criminal psychologists might fake mental illness in order for a client to receive a reduced sentence by reason of insanity. To resolve a malingering dilemma is to simply tell the truth because lying any further could result in more a severe...

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