National Careers Week: Forensic Psychology
2nd March 2021
This week is National Careers Week. There are a lot of careers in Psychology. According to the British Psychology Society, the main careers are:
- Health Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Educational Psychology
- Academia, Research and Teaching
- Occupational Psychology
- Sport & Exercise Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
Today, I want to focus on Forensic Psychology.
Contrary to what many people think, forensic psychologists, at least in the UK, do not work with the police making offenders’ profiles and helping solving crimes. It is true that we find the professional figure of the Behavioural Investigative Adviser. However, many behavioural investigative advisers work as consultants and have other jobs.
Most forensic Psychologists work with offenders that have already been convicted. This can be done in prison, youth offender teams, secure hospitals, and other institutions. The main focus of the work is on assessment and rehabilitation. You would assess what is called the criminogenic needs of the offenders (those factors that put them at risk of reoffending or that prevent their rehabilitation) and plan an intervention plan to tackle those needs.
I can tell you that it is not an easy job. Before I joined the University of Gloucestershire, I worked as a Forensic Psychologist in a prison and in a secure training centre. A lot of offenders have had very difficult lives, with histories of abuse and trauma, had strong dependencies on drugs and did not believe that I could help them at all. It was difficult to gain their trust, and even more difficult to convince them that they could change. However, it was incredibly rewarding when they thanked me or when I could finally see change.
If you want to become a Forensic Psychologist, you will need to complete a BSc accredited by the British Psychology Society. At the University of Gloucestershire, you can start specializing since the beginning, as we offer a BSc specific in Forensic Psychology! By doing that degree, you will learn how each aspect of Psychology is applied in settings. For example, you will learn the relationship between different mental disorders and crime or how Social Psychology explains the processes that happen in court.
After those 3 years, you will need to complete a MSc in Forensic Psychology or Stage 1. In the course offered at the University of Gloucestershire, you will learn the tools and procedures used in different institutions in the UK and you will have the opportunity to apply them to different case studies.
Finally, you will need to complete what is called Stage 2. This is composed of two years of supervised practice, which means that after this, you will be completely ready to change offenders’ lives!