A forensic clinical psychologist is a mental health professional who focuses on crime and criminal law in their clinical work or research. One of the most important and common responsibilities of a forensic clinical psychologist is to assess the mental fitness of potential criminals prior to trial. It is the job of the forensic clinical psychologist to determine whether or not people suffering from certain mental disorders are legally responsible for their actions. Forensic clinical psychologists may also testify in court, educate lawyers and judges, and provide treatment to people involved in the criminal justice system.
A forensic clinical psychologist’s specific work is usually determined his or her particular specialty in school and in clinical work. Instead of evaluating suspected criminals for mental fitness, a youth or school psychologist may speak with children in child abuse cases. Psychiatrists are consulted when psychoactive drugs are required, and neurologists are frequently consulted to evaluate possible neurological disorders that may lead to criminal behavior. Most forensic clinical psychologists, on the other hand, primarily conduct evaluations and diagnoses.
The forensic clinical psychologist’s primary responsibility is to assess suspected criminals. This usually entails going over the specifics of a case as well as the suspect’s criminal history. In most cases, the most important part of the assessment is holding one or more meetings with the suspect. In-depth discussion and observation can usually provide enough information for the forensic clinical psychologist to make an assessment of the suspect’s mental fitness and ability to accept responsibility for the crimes committed. In court, the psychologist is frequently called to testify about the suspect’s mental fitness or lack thereof.
Clinical psychologists who do not work in the criminal justice system typically work with people who come to them willingly and try to cooperate as much as possible. For a forensic clinical psychologist, this isn’t always the case. Suspects may refuse to cooperate because they do not want to meet with a psychologist. As a result, psychologists are frequently forced to make critical decisions based on the actions of uncooperative suspects.
A forensic clinical psychologist may be called upon to provide treatment to people involved in the criminal justice system in some cases. Non-forensic psychologists may be unable to provide psychological therapy to people in prison or undergoing lengthy trials. Those in the criminal justice system who are struggling with addiction and substance abuse may benefit from the services of forensic criminal psychologists.