Five Surprising Traits of Forensic Psychologists


What is a Forensic Psychologist?

Most people believe the understanding of exactly what a forensic psychologist is lies in the branch “of applied psychology which is concerned with the collection, examination and presentation of evidence for judicial purposes”. If we were to adopt this definition, what a forensic psychologist is becomes decidedly clearer. This is because you are simply pointing out that it is the job of forensic psychologist to provide “psychological information for the purpose of facilitating a legal decision”.

According to the American Psychological Association, forensic psychology applies clinical specialties or skills such as assessment, evaluation and treatment to individuals that are involved with the legal system. The duty of forensic psychologists is, therefore, to assess individuals psychologically who are somehow involved with the legal system. Therefore, forensic psychologists must have training in both forensic psychology and the law. However, other skills are also needed by forensic psychologists.

1. A Forensic Psychologist Must Have the Ability to be Objective

As a forensic psychologist, you must be objective. HR conferences stress the importance of your being able to resist both your own ideas and prejudices as well as those of the side that has retained you is absolutely essential. To be able to do this, you must possess a great deal of self-confidence or “ego strength”.

The general idea is not to be seen as a “hired gun” by the jury and judge. If you are, your opinions will not be valued. You will not help your client, but, instead, be a hindrance to him or her.

2. A Forensic Psychologist Must Have the Ability to Think Critically

Conferences for HR professionals often state that a forensic psychologist must have an aptitude in critical thinking. This is especially important in order to not only do the necessary research required by a case but to also evaluate the information obtained from both the professional and scientific literature critically.

Failing to think critically can cause a forensic psychologist to run the risk of being discredited by the forensic expert of the other side. The other side’s expert may show the jury and/or judge that the studies presented by you are either flawed or extraneous. This can result in your opinions to be believed to be questionable.

3. A Forensic Psychologist Must Have Keen Observational Skills

HR professional conferences also stress that it is imperative that a forensic psychologist has keen observational skills when conducting sessions with patients. They must be able to recognize and interpret the patient’s body language. In addition, they must find and collect the current psychological research and apply those findings to an interpretation as well as draw conclusions from them.

4. A Forensic Psychologist Must Have Determination and Strength of Character

There are times forensic psychologists will find themselves in places that are basically unpleasant such as correctional facilities, police stations and rehab centers. They may witness violent, traumatic and disturbing events. It is at these times they will need emotional stability and a great deal of patience. Some of their patients may display both mental and behavioral disorders and they may find themselves the target of aggressive behavior. Above all else, they must take on the burden of trust by keeping their patient’s problems in total confidence.

5. A Forensic Psychologist Must Have Outstanding Communication Skills

Conferences for HR often point out that a forensic psychologist is required to communicate effectively on a daily basis. For instance, you may work in corrections and need to communicate every day with inmates, conduct both anger-management and crisis sessions, perform therapy and regular evaluations. In order to do these tasks, you must not only have strong listening and speaking skills, but you will also have to be able to balance both personal and group communication effectively.

Forensic psychologists must also be able to communicate information in writing. They must write assessments of personalities, evaluations ordered by courts as well as recommendations. They must also have strong writing skills as well as oral presentation skills in order to present their findings.

In Conclusion

You may have completed education in as well as training in both the law and forensic psychology. However, if you wish to enter the profession of forensic psychology, you will need other traits as well. You will find the human resources conferences recommend that in order to be a forensic psychologist you must be able to be objective and have strong skills in critical thinking and observation. Determination to get the job done no matter how difficult is a trait you certainly must possess. Strength in character and communication are also essential to success in the forensic psychology profession. If you possess these traits, you certainly should seriously consider a career in forensic psychology.

Related resource:

Top 20 Graduate Degree Programs in Forensic Psychology