I get asked this question a lot. No, it’s not like you see, normally, in CSI or any of the TV shows. Essentially, forensic psychology is the study, research and application of psychology to matters relating to the legal system. In itself, forensic psychology, has become a specialty in psychology.
So sometimes, a psychologist will work in the criminal area of law: violence risk evaluation, mitigating factors at the time of sentencing, competency to stand trial or to enter a plea, or simply, a question of diagnosis and treatment planning … and other areas. A psychologist can also work in the civil areas of law, e.g. competency to make health care decisions, disability, matters of personal injury, harassment or discrimination and worker’s compensation.
This makes the practice of forensic psychology extraordinarily fascinating, challenging and interesting. One of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had was working as a staff psychologist at the State’s only forensic hospital. This afforded me opportunities to pursue training opportunities around the country and to apply my training as a clinical psychologist to assist attorneys and the legal system.