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Forensic Psychology Subspecialities

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The field of psychology is constantly evolving due to new research and techniques that have been proven to be more effective. Forensic psychology is very diverse field with a wide range of specialty areas. These specialty areas were created to allow psychologists to focus on one specific area. This paper will focus on roles and responsibilities of the six subspecialties of forensic psychology; criminal, juvenile, civil, investigative, correctional and police. This paper will also address ethical dilemmas and how to they can be resolved; as well as addressing controversial issues a forensic psychology professional may face. Criminal Psychology

Major Roles
Criminal psychology is the study of criminals, intentions, reactions, behavior and most importantly their patterns. Criminal psychologists have many roles and responsibilities; but the major role is to study why people commit crime. Along with studying why people commit crime a criminal psychologists may also be called upon to assess a criminal to determine what their risk is for recidivism and to determine their competency to stand trial. Another major role that a criminal psychologist has is assisting law enforcement in solving crimes and providing expert testimony. Criminal psychologists must also be responsible for familiarizing themselves with laws that concern mental health and criminal behavior. Case Influence

There are many court cases that influenced the practice of criminal psychology such as People vs. Hawthorne 1940. In the case People vs. Hawthorne a man killed his wife and plead not guilty by reason of insanity. During the trial the court refused to allow a criminal psychologist with a PhD to provide expert testimony and because of this issue the case went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined that the trial court should have accepted the expert testimony from the psychologist; they also ruled that acceptance of an expert testimony should not be based on if the person has a medical degree. The qualification for an expert witness is based on their knowledge in that area. The ruling in the case created controversy because many people believed that in order for a psychologist to provide expert testimony about insanity that a medical degree should be needed because insanity is a disease. Ethical Dilemmas

The American Psychological Association set guidelines that psychologist must adhere to in order to avoid ethical dilemmas or concerns that could arise. Psychologists put forth a great deal of effort in trying to avoid unethical situations; but sometimes no matter how much effort is put forth those situations become unavoidable. Confidentiality is one of the most common ethical dilemmas that criminal psychologists face. In criminal psychology clients are usually there on an involuntary basis and more than likely have limited or no opportunity to direct their treatment. Criminal psychologists often times do not follow traditional confidentiality rules especially when their role at that moment is in an evaluative context.

According to the APA a psychologist should at all times be clear about why confidential information is disclosed. In order to resolve a dilemma with confidentiality one would need to be upfront about the situation and ensure there was a legitimate reason why confidentiality was broken. Another common ethical dilemma in criminal psychology is malingering; at times people tend to try to exaggerate how severe their symptoms are. For example a criminal psychologists might fake mental illness in order for a client to receive a reduced sentence by reason of insanity. To resolve a malingering dilemma is to simply tell the truth because lying any further could result in more a severe disciplinary action. Another common ethical concern is entering into multiple relationships like expert witness and therapist or consultant and expert witness. The easiest way to resolve this concern is make sure there is only one legitimate relationship.

Unresolved Controversial Issues
One of the most unresolved controversial issues in psychology is the misuse of psychological knowledge in research, assessment, practice or any other activity that utilizes psychology as a tool. When the September 11th attack took place the APA addressed what psychologists contributed to U.S. National Security. The report from the task force generated a number of controversies one being that task force members were psychologists serving as active military. There was criticism with the task force because once the identification of the members was revealed it showed signs of connection with intelligence gathering and detainee interrogation (Olson, Solz, and Davis, 2008).

Civil Psychology
Major Roles
A civil psychologist major role is to conduct assessments of emotional factors when involving discrimination and sexual harassment, workers compensation evaluations, as well as psychological autopsies. A civil psychologist may also be used in family court and in this case their major roles would be to perform child custody evaluations, child abuse evaluations, and evaluations to assess the termination of parental rights. Another important role a civil psychologist has assessing juvenile competency to stand trial and to make suggestions in reference to treatment and rehabilitation. Cases of Influence

In the case Graham vs. Florida a 16-year-old committed burglary and another crime; he accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to probation and withheld adjudication of guilt. Later on the trial court found that 16-year-old Graham had violated the terms of his probation and adjudicated him guilty of the charges that were brought against him before, revoked his probation, and sentenced him to life in prison. Florida abolished their parole system which left Graham sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Another trial was held and the courts reduced the sentence because it was determined to be cruel and unusual punishment, which violated the 8th amendment. This trial could have possibly influenced civil psychology simply because if the trial court would have questioned if the juvenile was competent to stand trial sentencing him to life without the possibility of parole would have never been taken into consideration if he was deemed incompetent. Ethical Dilemmas

Some of the most common ethical dilemmas in civil psychology revolve around children. One of the most common ethical dilemmas is during an evaluation in determining the child’s best psychological interests. Anytime a psychologists is conducting child custody evaluations they must make sure they take both sides into consideration to ensure the decision is made based on what is best for the child. Another common ethical dilemma is impartial evaluators; because everyone cannot and will not be completely satisfied it is important that psychologists remain free of unwarranted biases. The only way to resolve this dilemma is keep focus on what is important for the child and to think about your values and perceptions. Unresolved Controversial Issues

One of the most unresolved controversial issue in civil psychology involves child custody evaluations. Child custody evaluations not only affect the child it also affects the parents and could possibly hinder connection among other family members. Because child custody evaluations have such a lasting effect the legal system stresses that psychology professionals to resolve the disputes and challenges when involving divorce and child custody evaluations. Research

In civil psychology research suggests that divorce itself is not what harms the children but rather the tension between both parents. When involving family issues in court there is a growing area of parenting coordinating which is where the civil psychologist help parents who are fighting call a truce and come to an agreement without all the hassle for the sake of their children. Parenting coordination begins with a court-ordered parenting agreement that establishes a detailed custody schedule, with exact drop-off and pickup times, and arrangements for vacations and holidays (American Psychological Association, 2010).

Juvenile Psychology
The forensic psychology subspecialty role when involving juveniles deals with the mental health of juveniles who are in the criminal justice system. Juvenile psychology also assists when involving foster care and divorce cases. Major Roles

Juvenile psychologists have several different roles.
Some of the major roles for juvenile psychology are conducting pre-sentencing evaluations which determines if a juvenile should go to juvenile or adult court, conducts assessments on incarcerated juveniles, and help juveniles understand the crime they committed and the consequences. Another major role is competency assessment, which determines if the juvenile is competent to stand trial. Juvenile psychologists help determine what treatment a juvenile should receive. Cases of Influence

Roper vs. Simmons was a case about a 17-year-old who committed murder during an aggravated robbery and nine months later turned 18; he was tried and sentenced to death. Before committing the murder 17-year-old Simmons had previously discussed with his friends about killing someone. Simmons had no prior convictions or previous charges; but he committed the murder to gain access to the money. The court considered his age when the crime took place but the aggravated factors resulted in the death penalty sticking. The court never once evaluated him to determine if he had mental issues nor did they conduct an assessment to determine if he was competent to stand trial; they assumed because he discussed the murder previously he knew exactly what he was doing. Juvenile psychologists should have been involved in this case to insight on the juvenile’s psychological issues. Ethical Dilemmas

One of the most common ethical dilemmas faced in juvenile psychology is dual relationship. The APA states that a psychologist must avoid entering into a dual relationship if that relationship could possibly impair the psychologist performance (American Psychological Association, 2010). In order to resolve this issue psychologist must ensure that they do not take on different roles for example an expert witness and the client’s psychologist. Another common ethical dilemma involving juvenile psychology is informed consent. Psychologist should always make it priority that when conducting research that the client has a clear understanding of the activities taken place. Unresolved Controversial Issues

One of the most controversial issues in juvenile psychology is whether or not a juvenile should be tried as an adult or a juvenile. Most people believe that if a juvenile commits a crime and depending on how severe the crime is they should be tried as adult while others believe trying them, as an adult is not the answer. Juveniles need rehabilitation and not incarceration simply because that only causes other issues. Juvenile court focuses on rehabilitation whereas in adult court focuses more on harsher punishments. In May 2010 the Supreme Court made a decision that would soften the sentences for some juveniles. Research

Most juvenile offenders are vulnerable kids who have had a bad family life, peer pressured into committing a crime, or have mental issues. Research when involving kids should only be conducted when there is an issue with the well-being and health of the child. Because most kids do not understand what is going on when research is conducted it is important that the child is fully aware and understands the process and that he or she can withdraw at anytime.

Investigative Psychology
Major Roles
Investigative psychologists have numerous roles. One of the major roles an investigative psychologist has is studying criminal behavior, which is also called criminal profiling. Criminal profiling assists law enforcement with apprehending offenders. Criminal psychologist also assists law enforcement with officer consolation and potential recruit evaluations. Another role they have is providing counseling to victims as well as conducting crisis interventions on an as needed basis. Cases of Influence

In the blue-eyed butcher case Susan Wright of Houston Texas stabbed her husband 193 times killing him; she pled not guilty by reason of self-defense. Both the prosecutor and defense attorney had different portrayals of who Susan was. During the trial Susan tried to convince the courts that the only reason she would commit such a horrible crime was to protect herself. Susan had the psychologist convinced for moment that she was just a terrified abused mother and wife; her convincing prolonged the case. This particular case is definitely a case of criminal profiling gone wrong the courts made assumptions based on whom they saw before them. Ethical Dilemmas

One of the most common ethical dilemmas in investigative psychology is in reference to the information presented to the public. Psychologists must make sure when addressing the public about a case or research that it does not place the client at risk. The American Psychological Association states that psychologists must make sure the information presented to the public is based on their personal knowledge, experience, or training (American Psychological Association, 2010). Another ethical dilemma faces is conflict of interest; a psychologist must refrain from taking on a professional role when it may impair their performance because of a personal, legal, or professional relationship (American Psychological Association, 2010). Unresolved Controversial Issues

One of the major unresolved controversial issues is if criminal profiling is beneficial or not. Criminal profiling has its advantages and disadvantages just as everything else. Criminal profiling can help apprehend offenders if conducted correctly and professionally. Many have concerns about what if the profiler has personal issues with the criminal that are unresolved and the criminal receives a punishment they do not deserve; what happens next? When criminal profiling is conducted one must have to trust the profiler to make sound ethical decisions. Research

Forensic psychology professionals have important roles so it is vital that they recognize how their job influences the outcome of crime cases. Investigative psychology covers all forms of criminality that can be examined by law enforcement from arson to burglary to murder rape and terrorism (Youngs and Canter, 2005). Investigative psychology is mostly covers the psychological input that relates to investigation, crime prosecution, and management. Correctional Psychology

Major Roles
Correctional psychologists have several important roles. One of the major roles is to manage group therapy within a correctional facility. Correctional psychologists also perform assessments for risks of suicide and behavior issues. Another major role a correctional psychologist has is to administer personality and intelligent tests to prisoners to determine what type of treatment they may need. Cases of Influence

In California the case of Brown vs. Plata in 2001 found that prisoners with serious mental conditions were not receiving proper care. Three years later a receiver stated the reason prisoners were not receiving proper care was because of overcrowdings and without reducing the inmate size it would be impossible for inmates to receive proper care. After a hearing testimony the court ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of the capacity within two years. Ethical Dilemmas

One of the most common ethical dilemmas investigative psychologist face involves human rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally regardless of what actions they may have taken. A psychologist must at all times treat clients equally unfair discrimination is not tolerated according to the American Psychological Association. Another ethical dilemma faced involves confidentiality. Investigative psychologists have an obligation to protect client’s information. To resolve the issue of confidentiality is to simply ensure there is a legitimate reason for psychologist’s client confidentiality relationship to be broken. Unresolved Controversial Issues

The biggest unresolved controversial issue in investigative psychology is whether or not inmates should have equal rights. An inmate should have equal rights just as everyone else just because they committed a crime does not mean they deserve to be treated inhumanely. At one point inmate’s courts granted minimum rights to inmates in 1960, a lot less that current rights for inmates (Bartol & Bartol, 2012). When an individual is sent to prison that is there punishment for the crime they committed not to be further punished and treated inhumane. Research

A study was conducted on a group of male and female individuals to determine how psychology professionals can assess and manage violence prone patients. The groups of individuals were asked questions in reference to the types of crimes they had committed. Those who were evaluated showed signs of psychosis through their cognitive behavior and had an agitated posture. If investigative psychologists can determine this type of information it allows them to be a few steps ahead of inmates. Inmates who have a serious mental condition and were non compliant with the treatment in prison are more likely to be violent than general population (Hughes, 1994).

Police Psychology
Major Roles
The major role of a police psychologist is to identify law enforcement officers who are at risk for excessive force and in preventing its use. Another major role of police psychology is to counsel and evaluate law enforcement offices after they have endured a traumatic event. Police psychologist also conducts personality assessments, which determines if an individual is capable of doing the job. Cases of Influence

The Rodney King case was the first case to come to mind that may have influenced police psychology. Rodney King was involved in high-speed chase in 1991 in California. Once King was apprehended he was beaten by five Los Angeles police officers while other officers stood around and watched. Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and three were acquitted of all charges. Later two of the officers were convicted of violation of the civil rights. If an evaluation had been conducted a police psychologist would have been able to determine that the officers involved were at risk for excessive force. Ethical Dilemma

One of the most common ethical dilemmas in police psychology is ensuring that a client is in no way susceptible to harm. The American Psychological Association states that psychologists must take reasonable steps to avoid harming a client (American Psychological Association, 2010). In order to resolve this issue a psychologist must refrain from placing the client in a threatening situation. Another ethical issue is the use of confidential information for personal gain. A psychologist cannot disclose any of the client’s confidential information in lectures, writings, or interviews without disguising the client. To resolve this issue one must ensure the proper steps are taken if information will be disclosed. Unresolved Controversial Issues

One of the most controversial issues in police psychology is how accurate are they when determining if a law enforcement officer is at risk for excessive force. There are so many cases where law enforcement officers have used unnecessary excessive force; and society is wondering what is being done to prevent these situations from happening. A police officer may only use excessive force to control a person who they see as a threat (Police and Jail Procedures, 2011). Even though a police psychologist may be able to evaluate and determine if a police officer is at risk for excessive force police officers also have a way of convincing the police psychologist they are just fine. Research

The results of using the MMPI and MMPI-2 to predict the performance level of law enforcement officers were found to be invalid. Researchers suggest the reason the MMPI and MMPI-2 are invalid is because the scales are interpreted with cutoff scores rather than with linear relationships (Amaodt, 2004). When using MMPI one must receive a 70 or above and when using the MMPI-2 one must receive a 65 or above; most psychologists normally screen out those who score above 65. Conclusion

Forensic psychology is divided into six subspecialties juvenile, civil, criminal, police, correctional, and investigative. Subspecialties in forensic psychology are very beneficial and provide vital information. While each subspecialty may be different they all strive to achieve the same goal. The American Psychological Association set guidelines for psychologists in general it does not matter what subspecialty they all have to adhere to the same guidelines.

Youngs, D.E., & Canter, D.V. (2005). Psychology of Law. Lands Downe, South Africa: Juta and Co.

Munsey, C. (2011, November). Civil Wars. American Psychological Association, 38(10), 28. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/nov07/civilwars.aspx American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx American Psychological Association,. (2010, December). Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings. American Psychologist, 65(9), 863-867. doi:10.1037/a0021250 Cornell University Law School. (2007). LII Supreme Court Collections. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/name.htm Hughes, D Police and Jail Procedures, Inc.. (2011). Unnecessary Excessive Use of Force. Retrieved from H.M.D. (1994). Assessment of the Potential for Violence. Psychiatric Annals, 24(11), 579-583. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/894195949?accountid=14872 Nordal, K. (2010, August). Parenting Coordination an Emerging Practice Area. American Psychological Association, 41(7), 62. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/07-08/perspectives.aspx Bartol, C.R., & Bartol, A.M. (2012). Introduction to Forensic Psychology: Research an Application (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc. Surrette, M. A., Aamodt, M. G., & Serafino, G. (2004). Using MMPI special scale configurations to predict performance ratings of police officers in New Mexico. Applied H.R.M. Research, 9(2), 71-72.

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