Criminal Forensic Psychology
Day in the Life of Forensic Psychologist

If you're curious about a career in criminal forensic psychology, start here & learn what a day working as a criminal clinical psychologist is like

There is a major difference between criminal forensic psychology and regular forensic psychology.

The standard focus takes under its wing staff psychologists and educational psychologists, whereas the criminal focus is solely concerned with the justice system in regards to unlawful activity.

In other words, forensic psychology deals with the entire intersection between human behavior and law, while criminal forensic psychology is solely responsible for the behavior of criminals themselves.

It may seem like a thin distinction, but to the specialists involved, it’s a great barrier that divides the two.

Criminal Forensic Psychology: The Many Duties

What makes a person commit a crime? What are the odds that they will do it again? How best can the justice system prevent this from happening?

These are questions that the criminal forensic psychologist deals with on a daily basis.

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The profession itself may be fairly new—criminal clinical psychology was only recognized by the American Psychological Association as a valid specialty in 2001—but its roots dig deep into scientific and medical history.

The history of forensic psychology provides more than 100 years of studies, experiments, and research available for modern criminal forensic psychologists to draw from.

mystery solved

But what are they expected to do after drawing from that deep well of knowledge?

Here’s a look at a few of the duties a criminal forensic psychologist may be responsible for:

  • Providing expert testimony on the witness stand
  • Evaluating the competency of a suspect to stand trial
  • Determining the motivations behind a crime
  • Giving a jury an insight into the mind of a criminal
  • Recommending sentences for incarceration

A Day in the Life of Forensic Psychologists

You know the basic idea of what the criminal forensic psychologist is responsible for, what kinds of activities he or she may be called upon to perform, and what aspects of the justice system they have a hand in. But what about the day-to-day?

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You may have an interest in this profession, but you shouldn't jump into it full force—especially with so much training and education necessary—without understanding what the forensic psychologist is generally responsible for on a daily basis.

So, let’s take a look at a typical day in the life of the criminal forensic psychology specialist.

And because it’s so difficult to say what a typical day may be, we’ll offer two examples: one where the psychologist is called on to be in court and another when there is no court date scheduled.

In Court:


  • Prepare for the court case by looking over notes and reports
  • Meet with the counsel, go over notes again, and discuss testimony
  • Wait to be called into the courtroom, reviewing notes and case
  • Give testimony in regards to defendant or plaintiff’s psychological state


  • Meet with fellow staff to go over the court case testimony
  • Have lunch with colleagues to talk about new theories and findings
  • Give assessment tests to clients with appointments

Out of Court:


  • Consult with rehabilitation center staff
  • Meet with mental health center staff to review programs


  • Lunch with colleagues to discuss possible research papers
  • Spend some time with correspondence
  • Give presentation to law enforcement training groups on public forensic psychology

Hopefully this provides a little more insight into what criminal forensic psychologists do and will enable you to decide whether pursuing a forensic psychology degree is right for you.

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