Forensic psychology is one of the fastest growing areas of psychology. Practitioners may find work employment options in the field, mental health law, and the treatment and evaluation of offenders.
The Forensic concentration within the Clinical Psychology Psy.D. program prepares students to apply the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues related to law and the legal system. Students will also be introduced to testifying as an expert witness and forensic report writing as well as other psychological and legal principles. Students in the D.C. Campus program have the opportunity to take advantage of the school’s proximity to key agencies including The District of Columbia’s Department of Mental Health and Prince George County Department of Corrections. Through a range of practicum and volunteer experiences at forensic psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and courts of law students train alongside clinicians who have a breadth of knowledge in custody evaluation, competency evaluation, criminal responsibility, behavior modification, risk assessment, and expert testimony. Students will experience firsthand the delivery of efficacious interventions to address the complex mental health needs of adults and adolescents involved with the legal system , including severe mental illness and co-occurring disorders. Particular emphasis is placed on exposing students to the variety of professional roles, both clinical and research, assumed by psychologists in forensic settings.
Graduates will have a basic knowledge in clinical forensic psychology concentration, enabling them to bring psychology into the legal and public policy arenas in an ethical, academically focused, and research-based manner. Those specializing in this area will be among the highest in demand for the delivery of services to correctional facilities, law enforcement agencies, courts, attorneys, and lawmakers. Upon graduation, students are qualified to sit for national licensure as clinical psychologists, provided they pass the appropriate licensure examination and complete any state-required post-doctoral residency requirements. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to this campus.
Violence and Risk Assessment
Provides students with the fundamental aspects of conducting violence and risk assessment evaluations and the manner in which opinions are communicated. Students gain an understanding of empirically-based risk factors and assessment tools used to conduct violence and risk evaluations, as well as management strategies employed to ameliorate risk/risk conditions. Practical exercises drawn from actual cases are used to illustrate key concepts.
Evaluation and Treatment of the Offender
Explores psychological origins and dynamics of criminal behavior from the viewpoint of psychological theories. Students discuss treatment of the different types of offender populations (antisocial personality, female offenders, sex offenders, etc.) within the criminal justice system. It also explores psychological theories related to etiology, development and prediction of violent crime, and types of intervention possible within the criminal justice setting. Topic areas include special offender populations (sex offender, offenders with developmental disabilities, or those classified as mentally retarded).
Mental Health Law
Examines mental health law as it relates to civil and criminal practice. The relationship between psychopathology and crime, the insanity defense and other issues of criminal responsibility, competency to stand trial and otherwise participate in the legal process, involuntary hospitalization, and the clinician as expert witness are explored. Case studies and court reports are used to illustrate the key concepts of this course.
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