Forensic and public service psychologists work within the judicial system and other organizations dedicated to issues of public safety. This relatively young field uses psychological science in forensic evaluation and provides a range of services and expertise needed by social service organizations, public safety teams, the military and the courts.

Understanding Forensic and Public Service Psychology

As you’ve probably seen on network TV, forensic and public service psychologists play important roles within the public safety and judicial systems. They conduct evaluations that inform and guide legal proceedings — from decisions regarding child custody to the competency of a defendant to stand trial. Others help select police officers and train first responders or work with returning veterans after a deployment.

Forensic and Public Service Psychology Applied

The skills and expertise of forensic psychologists are in high demand. Forensic psychologists work in numerous job settings including private practices, government, military, academia, prisons and psychiatric facilities.

The range of topics and cases is vast. Forensic psychologists may evaluate a person involved in a personal injury suit and then testify in court about how this person’s life was affected by his or her injuries. They may also work with veterans to help them adjust to civilian life after war.

Within the criminal system, forensic psychologists might work on child abuse cases or determine a defendant’s sanity. They can give an informed opinion of whether a suspect knew right from wrong at the time of a crime and even whether a minor is being truthful in recounting an unlawful act. Some forensic psychologists work in the area of threat assessment, an emerging science predicting who may be at risk for committing a violent act.

The use for psychological science isn’t limited to clinical analysis or testifying in court, though. Social and experimental psychologists often help attorneys select juries or conduct focus groups to figure out the most convincing arguments.

For Students

The relatively young field of forensic psychology offers the chance to combine clinical work with the evaluation of crime and the criminal mind to the legal system. And via its public service component, this field has applications for community-building, particularly in working with the military sector to rebuild lives and regain confidence.

Resources for StudentsResources to help you pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives.

  


A Career in Forensic and Public Service PsychologyFind out what it takes to become a forensic psychologist
Forensic and public service psychology applies psychological science and principles to the public safety and judicial systems. Through the lens of human behavior, practitioners work within the criminal justice system to solve problems that keep communities safe.

For Teachers

An advanced degree in psychology is the foundation of many interesting career paths within the discipline. In addition, an understanding of the science of psychology — for example, by earning a bachelor’s degree in the subject — can help students in their careers and their lives.

Resources for TeachersExplore classroom resources
Understanding the science of psychology can help students in their careers and their lives. Psychological science is the foundation of many interesting career paths.
  


Psychology Can Take You Great PlacesLearn what it takes to pursue a career in psychology
You don’t have to look far to see the impact that psychologists make. They contribute in almost every profession, from health care and law enforcement to sport performance and space exploration.

For School Counselors

Forensic and public service psychologists use psychological science to support the judicial system and build strong communities. Their expertise and assessments are important in a range of issues that straddle the psychology and legal fields, from mental competence to youth testimony and military performance.

Resources for CounselorsResources to help your students pursue a career in psychology
A degree in psychology can lead to a fulfilling career that makes a difference in people’s lives.

  


A Career in Forensic and Public Service PsychologyFind out what it takes to become a forensic psychologist
Forensic and public service psychology applies psychological science and principles to the public safety and judicial systems. Through the lens of human behavior, practitioners work within the criminal justice system to solve problems that keep communities safe.