Clinical Forensic & Psychology

For many of you visiting this website you may not know the official definition of forensic psychology. Since Dr. Ebert specializes in forensic psychology it is relevant to know the various definitions as well as some of Dr. Ebert’s unique ideas about the field. Forensic Psychology, according to the American Board of 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. One example of this is in a situation in which a crime is committed and the defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. This type of case is squarely in the domain of forensic psychology. A doctoral level psychologist might evaluate the defendant using a specific methodology to determine the person’s mental state at the time of the alleged offense. After a psychological evaluation is completed the psychologist often prepares a report that is sent to the Court, the prosecutor and the defense counsel. Thereafter, the report writer may testify in Court at the trial.

Forensic Psychology is a very wide field with some forensic experts doing extensive research while others are assisting clients directly. As Alan Goldstein, Ph.D. pointed out it is a recognized field as part of the American Board of Professional Psychology. There is a separate set of ethical guidelines first published in 1991 and updated in 2013. A group of experts in forensic psychology, working with professionals at the American Psychological Association created the current Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. They were published in the journal American Psychologist, volume 8, pages 7-19 in 2013. You can be directed to the guidelines by clicking on the link below. In this document forensic psychology is a field that covers all forms of professional conduct in which the professional provides a wide variety of expert assistance to the courts or in some way brings the research, theory and practice of behavioral science to the judicial system. An understanding of this is important because there is a well defined corpus of knowledge in forensic psychology and/or forensic psychiatry that is distinctly different than any other field of mental health practice. Forensic psychologists study statutes, regulations, legal treatises, case law, law review articles and other relevant areas of legal knowledge along with specialized domains of psychological science.


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