What is Forensic Psychology?

4 minute read

Forensic psychology is a subject that blends psychology and the practice of law. Those who work in this discipline apply psychological knowledge to the criminal justice system. The word forensic comes from the Latin word ‘forensis,’ which means “forum,” or Ancient Rome’s judicial system. To shed light on psychological components in legal matters, forensic psychologists collaborate with attorneys, judges, and other legal experts. The forensic psychology definition, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), is “the application of clinical specialisations to the judicial arena”. Professionals in the discipline use psychological methods, research, and concepts in legal matters. Forensic psychologists are known for their psychological evaluations of persons who are involved in the legal system. They also assist in investigations, perform psychological research, and develop intervention programmes.

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

If you appreciate studying the science of human behaviour as well as the law, forensic psychology is likely to appeal to you. As more students become interested in this applied branch of psychology, the discipline has seen tremendous development in recent years. However, forensic psychology is much more than the romanticised portrayals found in movies, television shows, and literature.

In both civil and criminal cases, forensic psychologists give their professional skills to assist the legal system. To mentally examine persons in the legal system, these specialists require good forensic abilities. In addition to good verbal communication abilities, forensic psychologists should excel at evaluation, interviewing, report writing, and case presentation.

Forensic psychologists frequently act as advisers and expert witnesses during trials. They can offer information on a client’s competence, punishment, and treatment options. These psychologists create criminal profiles by studying crime scene evidence to limit suspect lists. In addition, forensic psychologists provide advice to legal and administrative clients.

A Forensic Psychologist’s Duties

In both criminal and civil cases, forensic psychologists are frequently used.

Interviewing and Observing

These experts work in the judicial system, observing and interviewing individuals. Behavioural, emotional, and psychological issues and disorders are assessed by forensic psychologists.

Writing Articles and Reports 

Forensic psychologists draught reports that address criminal profiles, criminal responsibility, and mental health. Many forensic psychologists publish professional publications to explain their results.

Providing Expert Statement 

These people provide expert testimony in legal cases as expert witnesses. They testify regarding punishment and treatment recommendations, competence, and future risk of criminal behaviour based on their psychological training and understanding.

Treatment and Counseling

Victims of crime are counselled by forensic psychologists. These specialists create and deliver treatment to sex offenders and other persons who have been convicted of crimes.


Interns are frequently supervised by forensic psychologists, and they must conduct supervised practice in order to acquire their qualifications.

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist?

Forensic psychology is a subfield of applied psychology in a wide sense. Clinical psychology, counselling psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, school psychology, or experimental psychology are the subjects in which a forensic psychologist may hold a PhD or Psy.D. Although forensic psychology is not a widespread degree choice, it is becoming increasingly popular as a speciality. Postdoctoral experience, training, and supervision or mentorship in forensic psychology are desirable for forensic psychologists.

If you want to work as a forensic psychologist, you should enrol in courses that include areas like:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminal psychology
  • Law
  • Social behaviour
  • Drugs and psychopharmacology
  • Abnormal behaviour
  • Perception
  • Cognitive psychology

If your institution offers forensic psychology coursework or a degree programme, you may expect to learn about deviant behaviour, criminal psychology, criminal risk assessment, domestic violence, mental health social policy, juvenile criminal justice, and adult offender treatment.

Top Colleges to Study Psychology in India

  1. Lady Shri Ram College
  2. St. Xavier’s College
  3. Christ University
  4. Fergusson College
  5. K. J Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce
  6. Jai Hind College
  7. Kamla Nehru College for Women
  8. Kishinchand Chellaram College
  9. Indraprastha College for Women
  10. Mithibai College

Also Read: Top Colleges to Study Psychology in India

Top Colleges to Study Psychology Abroad

As per QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022: Psychology, the top 10 universities are:

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. University of Oxford
  4. University of Cambridge
  5. University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  6. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  7. University College London (UCL)
  8. Yale University
  9. University of Amsterdam
  10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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Psychologist’s Salary 

CountryAverage SalaryIn Rupees
USA$82,624 /yrINR 65L
CanadaCA$1,09,697 /yrINR 66L
AustraliaA$90,000 /yrINR 70.5L
United KingdomA$90,000 /yrINR 70.5L
Germany€36,984 /yrINR 30L
France€28,221 /yrINR 23L
Ireland€59,085 /yrINR 48L


What’s the difference between forensic psychology and criminal psychology?

Overall, a criminal psychologist examines the perpetrator’s ideas and motives from within the perpetrator’s perspective, whereas a forensic psychologist examines the offender’s behaviour in relation to the law from the outside.

What comes under forensic psychology?

The application of psychology to topics and concerns connected to law and the legal system, especially criminal justice, is known as forensic psychology.

How many years does it take to become a forensic psychologist?

To become a forensic psychologist takes around ten years after high school: four years for a bachelor’s degree, two years for a master’s degree, and four years for a doctorate.

Who is a famous forensic psychologist?

Dr Henry Lee is one of the most well-known and widely respected forensic scientists and psychologists in the world.

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