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What is Forensic Psychology?

What is Forensic Psychology?

Forensic Psychology is the interaction between psychological services and the civil and/or criminal legal systems. Generally, it involves the assessment of individuals who are involved in criminal or civil court proceedings. Forensic assessments are evaluations for the courts or attorneys and aid courts in making better legal decisions and attorneys in representing their clients. It can also involve the provision of services for individuals or families who are involved with court processes, i.e. sex offender treatment, parenting training or education, domestic violence, and/or substance abuse treatment.

Forensic assessments can be conducted in both criminal and civil contexts. In criminal contexts, evaluations are useful in aiding the court in determining whether an individual is competent to stand trial or to proceed in the judicial process, to evaluate criminal responsibility of a defendant, or to identify relevant mitigating or risk issues (among numerous other issues). In the civil court, assessments can be used to evaluate parental risk in child custody or child protection situations, to assess individuals seeking workplace disability, and evaluate individuals who claim to have personal injury (among others). Forensic assessments are useful in military court proceedings, mostly for criminal issues.

The forensic psychologist should have extensive knowledge and experience in psychological assessment or evaluation ethics, procedures, research, and literature and in criminal and/or civil proceedings, laws, research, and ethical issues.

Nina E. Wendt, Ph.D.


Foundations, LLC

North Pole, Alaska

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