Forensic psychology is emerging as one of the fastest growing branches of psychology. After glamorous portrayal of forensic psychologists in movies and television serials, numerous students all over the world are enrolling themselves in forensic psychology graduate programs. But role played by psychologists in movies and serials are very limited. Apart from criminal profiling, criminal psychologists perform numerous other functions. So, if you are aspiring to make your career in forensic psychology, then you need to understand the role played by forensic psychologists in criminal justice system.
Understanding the meaning of forensic psychology
Basically, forensic psychology is a part of psychology, which acts as a crossing point between psychology and criminology. If you think that tasks played by forensic psychologists are limited to criminal profiling then you need to clear your perception. A forensic psychology graduate executes myriad of functions like assessment of mental condition of the accused, giving testimony in courts, evaluation of child custody and several other roles. Sometimes, accuse fake mental instability, in order to escape trial. In these situations, court asks criminal psychologists to perform complete check up and give testimony in the court regarding the mental condition of the individual. On basis of his medical report, court decides whether to start trial or not. Hence, forensic psychologists play very important role in judicial system of a country. We will further read about the roles of forensic psychology graduate in details in our next section.
Forensic psychologist v/s psychiatrist
The duties and functions performed by a criminal psychologist are much different from tasks performed by a psychiatrist:
A clinician handles wide range of psychology related problems where as a forensic psychologist deals with limited issues of non clinical nature.
A psychiatrist treats patients who come to their clinic on their own where as a criminal psychologist appraise a convict at behest of an attorney.
The methods used by psychiatrists to diagnose and treat patients are not sufficient in case of forensic psychology. Foreign psychologists use completely unique methods to determine whether the convict is faking mental illness or is really ill.
Thus, you can easily see that tasks performed by forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are completely different from each other.