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Video:Pros and Cons of a Forensic Psychologist Career

with Dr. Robert Reiner

A career in forensic psychology has some pros and cons. Learn more about the positives and negatives in forensic psychology with this informative video.See Transcript

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Transcript:Pros and Cons of a Forensic Psychologist Career

My name is Dr. Robert Reiner. I’m from Behavioral Associates in New York City. I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of a career in forensic psychology.

Disadvantages of Forensic Psychology

What comes to my mind, one of the biggest cons or disadvantages, is an ethical one because typically a psychologist - a forensic psychologist - is hired by a team of lawyers or an individual attorney, and you’re really working for either the defense or the prosecution. What happens if you’re working for the defense, and you strongly suspect the client is guilty. Certainly, every lawyer knows that’s not his or her job. A lawyer responds to the evidence and does the best job putting the best defense together for his or her client.

With a psychologist, one would hope the same rules would apply. Your job is to apply your skills as best you know how. Yet, because we do work under a different set of ethics, and each person of course has their own personal set of ethics and morals, they frequently come into conflict.The other reason people fear becoming forensic psychologists is they are no longer in the safety of an office, but now you’re in a public place. And, if you testify in court, then naturally there is a cross examination from the other side.

I’ve seen many psychologists, as expert witnesses, literally get taken apart. It can be vicious. So, you’re either going to develop a pretty tough skin, or you’re not going to do it very long because you won’t be hired by teams of attorneys to represent their clients.Those are two of the disadvantages.

Advantages of Forensic Psychology

The advantages, well naturally, as in any other form of any other profession, presumably you’re doing something that you enjoy doing. And, you do function for the most part independently, so if you like being your own boss that’s a big advantage. Another big advantage in this particular area of psychology, forensic psychology, is, you know, you can pick and choose which cases you want to take. And, if you feel very strongly about something, you’re going to get well paid for it presumably, but you’re also going to be convinced in your own mind that you’re on the right side of the issue. And, to a lot of people, that’s very important.

In my mind also is the diversity. If you engage in a career in forensic psychology, probably you’ll be doing a lot of different things because you can still be teaching your craft. You can start a small company, where you hire other people and train them in the way you want this done. This has been Dr. Robert Reiner talking about the pros and cons of a career in forensic psychology. If you have any more questions, as I said earlier, please go to About.com.

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