What is scope in forensics

The study check: Forensic Psychology

From novels and television programs to audio books and movies: There is a gigantic selection of crime stories in all forms of media - and now there is also the right course for them. Or is it not? Forensic psychology deals with similar topics, but is somehow very different from what is described in "Criminal Minds".

Contents of the course

The study of forensic psychology usually includes aspects of psychology and law. The focus is on psychology: As part of various courses on human experience, awareness and behavior, students are prepared to correctly assess and assess, for example, the credibility of witness statements, the readiness for responsibility of young people who have conspicuous under criminal law, and the culpability of criminals in their professional life. especially the clinical psychology therefore takes up a large part of the curriculum: Here the students learn to diagnose (mental) illnesses and abnormalities resulting from criminal offenses, such as personality disorders on the perpetrator's side and trauma on the victim's side, to take them into account in the court process.

In order to be able to make the above assessments with certainty, in addition to psychological knowledge, there is also a Solid legal expertise required. Therefore, the area of ​​law, with a focus on criminal law, represents the second important sub-area of ​​the forensic psychology course: Here, students are given extensive knowledge of the legal fundamentals and aspects of the judiciary.

A third essential aspect of the course does not relate to the teaching of content, but to the Strengthening personal and social skills of students. Above all, their communication skills and empathy are asked and are further developed in the context of seminars and internships. Regardless of whether it is about victims or perpetrators: The students learn to always act without prejudice and to treat everyone with understanding and compassion.

Also the analytical skills of the students are challenged and encouraged: In courses on risk assessments, for example, they learn how to use statistics, methodology and clinical expertise to calculate an offender's risk of relapse. Analytical thinking is also required in the context of “profiling” in order to link certain crime scene characteristics with the personality traits of an offender.

Course structure and admission requirements

Basically, the forensic psychology course is designed as a master’s course and as such requires a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in psychology for admission. Although some universities also offer individual modules in forensic psychology as part of the basic psychology course, these are not comparable to a master’s course in terms of scope. The structure of the master’s course differs from university to university. Well worth it to take a look across the country's borders: In the Netherlands, in particular, there is a wide variety of courses.

Career prospects for forensic psychologists

Although forensic psychology is a niche area, it offers graduates various career alternatives. Probably the largest areas of application are the execution of sentences and measures as well as the activity as a psychological expert. There is also the option of working as an expert and, as described above, for example, assessing the culpability or credibility of a suspect or witness. Reviews are commissioned by judges or prisons, so that reviewers are often independent and can therefore work independently or in group practices. Another important area of ​​activity is the psychological support for perpetrators and victims during a trial: either as a prison psychologist for offenders in the penal system or as a trauma therapist for victims in a clinic or in one's own practice. For students who are interested in an academic career or in research in general, work at university or criminological research institutions is also ideal.

Another possible professional field is that of the "profiler" or case analyst. As the latter name suggests, this one deals with the holistic analytical reconstruction of a criminal case. Profiling, i.e. the creation of psychological perpetrator profiles, only represents a small part of his work. Anyone striving for this professional field should first find out more about it - because Hollywood films, for example, often create a certain image in the heads of prospective students that does not do justice to the profession in reality. In addition, there is currently only one advertised position for this branch in Germany, which is why entry is generally difficult and a pure specialization in this area must therefore be well thought out.

Who is suitable for the course?

If you are considering a master’s degree in forensic psychology, you should first study the ethical challenges be aware of what the course of study entails. The line between “right” and “wrong” is often very narrow - when you consider that there are usually no pure “perpetrators” and “victims”, but that perpetrators were often victims in the past and because of long-term, psychological or physical stress ultimately became perpetrators. Is Imprisonment Really Justified? Or wouldn't holistic therapy be the right measure? How do you deal with victims so that they do not also become perpetrators? A good moral compass and pleasure in dealing with ethical issues are therefore good prerequisites for prospective students.

Another important factor is Resilience. The fates of the people with whom forensic psychologists work on a daily basis are often dramatic. Empathy is therefore just as essential for prospective students as emotional strength, so that later in their professional life they can put themselves in the shoes of the people concerned, but at the end of the day also be able to distance themselves emotionally from them. For very sensitive or unstable personalities, on the other hand, the job harbors the risk that it will put too much psychological strain on them and drain them in the long term.

In addition, prospective students should have a good observation and strong analytical skills in order to oversee even complicated cases, not to overlook any important detail and to derive the right consequences.

Who to all of this Friend of varied activities and new challenges every day is sure to have a lot of fun in your studies and in your later professional life, as one case is seldom the same as another. I myself study forensic psychology with great passion. Nevertheless, at the end of each day I ask myself: Are the criminals really so different from me, or wasn't I just lucky to be on the “right” side and thus be able to spend every day in freedom?

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