Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology is the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system. The word “forensic” comes from the Latin word “forensis,” meaning “of the forum,” where the law courts of ancient Rome were held. Today forensic refers to the application of scientific principles and practices to the adversary process where scientists with specialized knowledge play a role.

Board Certification in Forensic Psychology

As in many professions, Specialty Board Certification in Forensic Psychology signifies that an individual has met the established standards for the profession as maintained and protected by an organization that the field recognizes for that role. The organization entrusted with that role regarding board certification in Forensic Psychology is the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which attests that the certified professional possesses a high level of professional competence in the specialty area. The Forensic Psychology Specialist has been found to have the ability to articulate clearly the theoretical, ethical, and legal foundations for his or her work in forensic psychology. The ABPP certificate has been recognized by judicial decisions, regulations, and statutes in some jurisdictions as the standard of professional competence in forensic psychology. Board Certification in Forensic Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) is one of only two post-doctoral specialty certifications recognized in the American Psychological Association Directory. ABPP has been incorporated since 1947. It has a rigorous standard for credential and practice sample review, which culminates with a three-hour oral examination by three ABFP board-certified forensic psychologists in two primary areas of forensic practice as exemplified by the practice samples. No candidates are exempt from the examination or “grandfathered.”

The Specialized Practice of Forensic Psychology

The practice of forensic psychology refers to the application of scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of psychology to inform matters of law within the judicial system, legislative bodies, and administrative agencies. This includes, but is not limited to, conducting psychological evaluations, treatment, or research in anticipation of future legal, contractual, or administrative proceedings; offering expert psychological opinions in the form of testimony or amicus briefs; and, trial consultation. Thus, while many psychologists may testify in Court about their patients or research from time to time, such activities would not be considered the specialized practice of forensic psychology.

The American Academy of Forensic Psychology and The American Board of Forensic Psychology

The American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP) is responsible for the certifying process in forensic psychology. ABFP is part of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which has provided certification in designated psychology specialties since 1947. The American Academy of Forensic Psychology (AAFP) is an organization affiliated with ABFP but independent of ABPP. AAFP was organized for the purpose of contributing to the development and maintenance of forensic psychology as a specialized field of study, research, and practice. The mandate of the Academy includes: the operation of a continuing education program in forensic psychology, the provision of a forum for the exchange of scientific information among its members, the conferring of awards to outstanding practitioners of forensic psychology, and other activities that enhance or advance the profession of forensic psychology.

How to Locate a Specialist in Forensic Psychology

The American Academy of Forensic Psychology offers a directory allowing the consumer to access a Specialist by geographical location or area of professional specialty.