Forensic Psychology is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. The word "forensic" comes from the Latin word "forensis," meaning "of the forum," where the law courts of ancient Rome were held. Today forensic refers to the application of scientific principles and practices to the adversary process where specially knowledgeable scientists play a role.
The Diplomate in Forensic Psychology
The receipt of the Diploma in Forensic Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) attests to the fact that an established organization of peers has certified the Diplomate as possessing a high level of professional competence and maturity, with the ability to articulate an explicit and coherent rationale for his or her work in forensic psychology.
The ABPP diploma has been recognized by judicial decisions, regulations, and statutes in some jurisdictions as the standard of professional competence in forensic psychology.
The Diploma awarded by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) is the only post-doctoral specialty certification recognized in the American Psychological Association Directory. ABPP has been incorporated since 1947, and ABPP has rigorous standard for the credentials, work review and oral examination of applicants for three hours by a panel of three psychologists who hold the Forensic Diplomate. No candidates are exempt from the examination or "grandfathered."
The Practice of Forensic Psychology Includes:
- Psychological evaluation and expert testimony regarding criminal forensic issues such as trial competency, waiver of Miranda rights, criminal responsibility, death penalty mitigation, battered woman syndrome, domestic violence, drug dependence, and sexual disorders
- Testimony and evaluation regarding civil issues such as personal injury, child custody, employment discrimination, mental disability, product liability, professional malpractice, civil commitment and guardianship
- Assessment, treatment and consultation regarding individuals with a high risk for aggressive behavior in the community, in the workplace, in treatment settings and in correctional facilities
- Research, testimony and consultation on psychological issues impacting on the legal process, such as eyewitness testimony, jury selection, children's testimony, repressed memories and pretrial publicity
- Specialized treatment service to individuals involved with the legal system
- Consultation to lawmakers about public policy issues with psychological implications
- Consultation and training to law enforcement, criminal justice and correctional systems
- Consultation and training to mental health systems and practitioners on forensic issues
- Analysis of issues related to human performance, product liability and safety
- Court-appointed monitoring of compliance with settlements in class-action suits affecting mental health or criminal justice settings
- Mediation and conflict resolution
- Policy and program development in the psychology-law arena
- Teaching, training and supervision of graduate students, psychology, and psychiatry interns/ residents, and law students
The American Academy of Forensic Psychology and The American Board of Forensic Psychology
The American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP) is the education and training arm of the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP), which is responsible for the diplomating process in forensic psychology. Both AAFP and ABFP are part of the American Board of Professional Psychology, which has provided certification in designated psychology specialties since 1947. The AAFP was organized for the purpose of contributing to the development and maintenance of forensic psychology as a specialized field of study, research and practice. The mandate of the Academy includes: the operation of a continuing education program in forensic psychology; the provision of a forum for the exchange of scientific information among its members; the conferring of awards to outstanding practitioners of forensic psychology; and other activities that enhance or advance the profession of forensic psychology.
How to Locate a Diplomate in Forensic Psychology
The American Academy of Forensic Psychology offers a directory allowing the consumer to access a Diplomate by geographical location or area of professional specialty.