Forensic psychology is a very young branch of psychology. However, we can trace its roots in1895 when J. McKeen Cattell conducted some of the earliest research on the psychology of testimony. His research resulted into a significant degree of inaccuracy which merited the interest of other psychologists like Hugo Munsterburg, Alfred Binet, and William Stern.
It was also during that time when psychologists were beginning to act as expert witnesses in criminal trials in Europe. Since then, psychologists point of view and findings during criminal investigations have been vital sources of information for judges and attorneys. Forensic psychology continued to evolve in the succeeding decades, making it one of the most famous branches of psychology. There is a significant increase in the offering of graduate programs with dual degrees in psychology and law, while there are also specialized offerings in forensic psychology.
Forensic psychologists will usually find themselves working in the criminal justice system, government agencies, counseling centers, hospitals, and clinics. They will most likely handle cases involving child abuse, immigration, custody disputes, and the occasional mind-boggling mystery crimes. One significant differentiating factor in forensic psychologists as compared to others is that their credentials will often come into questioning especially if your practice usually requires you to be an expert witness in criminal trials. As a forensic psychologist, you are faced with the challenge of conducting an un-biased, fact-based assessment of the client by being able to provide a complete psychological history and background of the subject and at the same time having a clear understanding of the legal framework at the time the case takes place. You must be able to explain in layman’s terms psychological concepts and mental health evaluation results of the client to the judge, the jury, and everyone inside the courtroom.
In New Mexico, there is a group of professionals specializing in forensic psychology. The Clinical, Forensic, and Neuropsychology Associates in New Mexico is a composed of a team of experts providing psychological services in New Mexico. If you are planning to practice as a forensic psychologist in New Mexico, you can get in touch with them. The average salary for a forensic psychologist in New Mexico is $62,100 per year.
Related: How to become a Forensic Psychologist.