Utah is a western state known for its mining, cattle ranches, salt, tourism and government services. According to the 2010 census, 62% of the Utah population was Mormon, a faith known for its conservatism. And yet Utah is developing a reputation for producing high-paying jobs and attracting high-tech corporations, leading to the modernization of its cities and earning Utah a nickname as “the new economic Zion.”
Forensic psychology refers to the employment of psychological theory and science in the areas of law and criminal justice. This can take many forms, depending upon a forensic psychologist’s specialty. For instance, a pediatric forensic psychologist might evaluate and counsel minors, whether the minors are victims of crime, perpetrators of crime or children involved in child custody cases or potential child abuse.
Courtroom Forensic Psychologists
One of the primary areas of work for forensic psychologists is in the courtroom, where they often appear as an expert witness for any of the following reasons:
(1) Determining whether a defendant is faking a mental illness
(2) Assessing whether an insanity plea is applicable
(3) Evaluating whether someone is fit to stand trial
(4) Predicting whether a person might turn violent
(5) Evaluating the suitability of parents in child custody cases
(6) Interpreting polygraph data
(7) Assessing personal injury
(8) Assessing personality
An expert witness must have a doctorate in psychology, and sometimes must also possess a bachelor’s degree in law.
Some forensic psychologists work in corrections institutions, working with the warden to evaluate and improve the mental health of the inmates. This can include individual therapy, group therapy, crisis management, daily inpatient rounds, anger management and court-ordered psychological evaluations. They often consult with other people, like prison staff, advocates, lawyers or court officials.
Except for certain researchers and minor positions, forensic psychologists must possess at least a master’s degree in psychology and at least a minor in a branch of law or criminal justice. Many positions require a doctorate in psychology.
Related: How to become a Forensic Psychologist.