5 traits that can help your success in forensic psychology
Forensic psychology isn’t exactly what crime shows like “Law & Order” portray it to be. But while it may not be as dramatic, forensic psychology is still a dynamic field.
From involvement in courtroom proceedings like jury selection and witness assessment to working within the criminal justice system as a mental health counselor or consultant, individuals working in the forensic psychology field can take on a broad range of responsibilities.
While there are a wide variety of careers in forensic psychology, there’s still a common foundation among the diverse types of jobs in the field. The following are five traits that can help you build a successful career in forensic psychology.
Strong communication skills
No matter what position you hold, strong communication skills are a plus for anyone in the forensic psychology field. Careers like corrections counselors, victim advocates, and jury advisors all interact with people on a daily basis.
Additionally, your career may require you to regularly communicate with inmates, victims of crimes, lawyers, and judges. Therefore, possessing strong listening and speaking skills is essential.
It’s also important to be capable of adjusting your communication style depending on the situation. Conducting an anger management seminar in a corrections facility requires a different approach than calming a sexual assault victim down during an interview.
Other forensic psychologists may give testimony in court or need to present research findings within an academic setting.
The ability to maintain objectivity
Because the field of forensic psychology deals with crime and the law, a career in this field can often become taxing and emotionally charged.
Nevertheless, it’s important to maintain objectivity in your work whether working with criminals, victims, lawyers, or another party. Maintaining strength and avoiding emotional attachments or reactions is a necessity in this line of work.
Critical thinking skills
The forensic psychology field combines psychological concepts, counseling public policy, the legal system, and more. Because the field is interdisciplinary in nature, it’s vital to possess strong critical thinking skills.
From gathering data-based research to observing others to making timely, informed decisions (Is some particular inmate ready to be released? Is a certain witness reliable?), critical thinking is the bedrock of this whole process.
Attention to detail
Many forensic psychology jobs rely on perceptive observations and analysis. Observing and body language and being especially attuned to particular communication styles is imperative.
If you work in corrections, responsibilities often include handling crisis management and counseling with inmates. Alleviating conflict starts with reading body language and using conflict resolution tactics.
Meanwhile, if you work with juries and witnesses, evaluating body language and group dynamics will allow you to consult on strategy recommendations for the jury selection process.
This trait may seem like it conflicts with previous traits we’ve outlined, like maintaining objectivity. However, a good forensic psychologist cares for the people they work with and for. There’s a difference between letting your emotions distract from the job and wanting the best outcome for an inmate, or ensuring that a victim’s voice is heard in trial.
At the end of the day, forensic psychology combines the worlds of psychology and justice. It’s a field that brings a human element to a government system, so having compassion is necessary.
Interested in studying forensic psychology?
It might be time to take the next step and research forensic psychology schools. If you’re convinced that this is the career path for you, read our tips on what to look for in a forensic psychology degree program. You can also go to the forensic psychology program page to learn more about forensic psychology programs at The Chicago School, or fill out the information below to request more information.