Who Can Be Criminal/Forensic Psychologist in India?

  • Criminal/Forensic psychology aims at analyzing the behavior of individuals who have gone against the assigned social norms. It also aims at understanding their motive behind their behavior and possible presence of any other mental health condition.
  • Psychologists in this specific field, collaborate with legal agencies like Police Stations, Investigation Bureu, Legal Court etc. to understand the reason behind a criminal behavior, examine the presence of other mental disorders, assess their severity and provide counseling to them.

ARE CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGISTS AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS THE SAME?

Though both the terms ‘criminal psychologists’ and ‘forensic psychologists’ are used interchangeably and do provide similar services, they do have certain minor differences.

CriminalForensic
 They solely focus on understanding the behavior of the criminal offenders. They focus on providing psychological assessments and evaluating them along with understanding criminal behavior.
 They are very important in the research and academics. However, they also play an important role by collaborating with legal agencies. They provide services in legal settings, offering testimony and treating the offenders.
 Criminal Psychologists work in court rooms, correctional homes and so on. Forensic Psychologists work in forensic labs, cyber cells and so on.

ROLE OF CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS IN INDIA

Criminal psychology is a vast field providing various scopes of services. The professionals of this field usually work in collaboration with legal agencies helping them in investigation.

  • Studying the intention associated with criminal behavior.
  • Understanding the probability of the offender to repeat his behavior in future.
  • Suggesting ways to interview the suspect.
  • Providing expert testimony in court.
  • Assessing and evaluating psychological distress of the offender.
  • Providing treatments to the offenders.

STEPS TO BECOME A CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST

Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field is needed to start their career as criminal/forensic psychologist.

Master’s Degree: Pursuing a master’s degree in forensic psychology, criminal psychology, clinical psychology, or a relevant field is the second step to become a professional. It makes a person more competent in this field if they choose to do their specialization in forensic or criminal psychology.

Internship: While pursuing masters, an internship or practical training in a forensic psychology setting must be done under a well-trained supervisor, to get an exposure to the real-life practice.

Licensing: Licensing criteria in India vary from state to state, but typically, one must meet specific requirements to obtain the license. These requirements often include completing a designated number of supervised practice hours and successfully passing a licensing examination.

SCOPE OF PRACTICE OF CRIMINAL /FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS IN INDIA

  • Colleges
  • Research Institutes
  • Correctional Homes
  • Court Rooms
  • Victim Advocate
  • Forensic Labs
  • Cyber Cells

CHALLENGES CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS FACE IN INDIA

  • There is limited scope of training in this field.
  • There is limited scope of practice in India.
  • Offenders are often manipulative and they tend to manipulate professionals. Therefore, it often becomes difficult for the professional to understand the actual motive, feeling and mental state of the offender.
  • Offenders are often resistant to treatment. Therefore, it becomes challenging for the professionals to help their clients.
  • It is also seen in some cases that the offender, despite being psychologically stable to live an independent life in society, are not released because of the legal charges. This is often disappointing for the professional.
  • At times, it becomes difficult for the psychologist to make legal professionals understand the underlying psychological condition of the offender.
  • Professionals may get personally triggered by certain cases.
  • As the profession can be emotionally overwhelming, individuals in the field may be at risk of burnout.

HOW DO CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGISTS COLLABORATE WITH LEGAL PROFESSIONALS?

  • Criminal Psychologists helps legal professionals in jury selection by assessing the psychological profiles.
  • They keep a record of their analysis of the offender’s psychological evaluation before, at and after trials.
  • They may suggest the court with appropriate sentences for offenders who have significant psychological concerns.
  • They provide psychometric assessments even before releasing an offender to assess if there is any probability in them to repeat their actions.
  • They also evaluate the defenders’ psychology to provide insight into their mental state.

ETHICAL GUIDELINES THT ARE UNIQUELY ASSOCIATED WITH CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGISTS

  • Psychologists have a strict ethical rule to maintain confidentiality of their clients, but in the criminal/forensic field, there might be situations where psychologists have to disclose information for legal proceedings. This creates an ethical dilemma that needs to be considered with utmost attention and safety.
  • Criminal psychologists must be impartial and unbiased in their assessments and expert testimonies but it becomes challenging when working closely with attorneys or being subjected to potential pressures from different political parties involved in a case.
  • Professionals must recognize and address any potential conflicts of interest that may compromise their professional judgment or the well-being of their clients. This includes avoiding any financial or personal relationships that could influence their objectivity or create a perception of impropriety.

PROMINENT INSTITUTES FOR STUDYING AND PRACTICING CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY

CAN SOMEONE PRACTICE CRIMINAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY SWITCHING FROM CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY?

A mental health professional having a license in clinical psychology can shift their profession and become a criminal psychologist. However, they should enroll themselves in an institute to get trained in criminal/forensic psychology and devote an adequate amount of time to fieldwork under supervision to become criminal/forensic psychologist.

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