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Forensic psychology is the incorporation of psychological techniques into the criminal justice process or system. It differs with forensic science in that forensic psychologists concentrate or focuses on the application of psychological perspectives to criminal justice system (Forensic psychology, n.d.).
They often come across legal issues which includes competency, public policies, newly created laws and the mental state of the defendant during the occurrence of the crime. Several specialty guidelines for psychologists have been developed by different institutions and organizations.
The aim of such guidelines had been to enhance or improve psychological services while at the same time facilitating systematic development of psychological field (American Psychological Association, 2011). Also, such guidelines tend to bring about a high level of professionalism and respect for the rights of patients being served by psychologists.
There are those guidelines used specifically by forensic psychologists (American Psychological Association, 2011), while others are general (comprehensive) in nature and can be used by psychologists in various fields of specialization (American Psychological Association, 2002). This article briefly describes each of these guidelines.
Guidelines 1- For Forensic Psychologists
This guideline was developed as a result of the deviation in the practice of forensic psychology from the traditional practice. It was mainly designed to benefit the forensic practitioners and the beneficiaries or recipients of their services (American Psychological Association, 2011). These guidelines encompass eleven key areas of concern in the field of forensic psychology. These are:
- Responsibilities– Includes integrity, impartiality and fairness and avoidance of conflicts of interest. These three issues are designed to ensure that the practitioners carry out their duties responsibly.
- Competence– Relates to knowledge of a practitioner in various fields including rights of recipients of the services, legal system, scientific baseline for testimony, opinions, teaching and research among others.
- Diligence– Includes diligence in terms of provision of services, responsiveness, communications and termination of services.
- Relationships– In order to ensure a healthy relationship between the practitioner and the recipient of the services, several measures are put in place including responsibilities of the parties, existence of multiple relationships between parties and provision of mental health services to forensic examinees incase of emergencies.
- Fees– Includes determination of fees by forensic practitioners, fee arrangements in the event that the cost exceeds the client’s ability and also pro-bono services to the persons with limited access to legal services.
- Informed consent, notification and assent– Several factors are important during this process including timing, communication to practitioners and forensic examinees, dealing with persons who are unable to provide informed consent and communicating in research contexts.
- Conflicts in practice– Several conflicts may arise including conflicts with legal authorities, conflicts with the demands of the organization as well as dealing with ethical issues with colleagues in the practice.
- Privacy, privileges and confidentiality– Includes issues touching on release and access to information, acquisition of collateral and third party information and use of case materials on scholarly activities.
- Methods and Procedures– The methods used should be appropriate with multiple sources of information and limitations of opinions on persons not examined.
- Assessment– Involves focusing on factors that are legally relevant, documentation and record keeping.
- Professional and other public communications– Includes fairness, accuracy and avoidance of deception, disclosure of sources of information and out of court statements.
Guidelines 2- Comprehensive
This document developed by American Psychological Association in 2002 provides guidelines that can be applied in multiple settings and situations. Six guidelines are provided in the document. These include:
- Psychologists holding attitudes and beliefs that can negatively influence the perceptions of other individuals.
- Psychologists appreciating the roles of multi-cultural consciousness and knowledge of different individuals.
- Psychologists employing multiple cultures and diversity in enhancing psychological education.
- Psychologists’ recognition of the importance of research that is centered on culture and ethics among persons from diverse backgrounds.
- Psychologists’ efforts to apply the knowledge that is culturally appropriate in both clinical and applied psychology practices.
- Psychologists utilizing organizational dynamism in enhancing the practices and development of organizations through culturally informed procedures.
American Psychological Association (2002). Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. Web.
American Psychological Association (2011). Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists. Web.
Forensic psychology (n.d.). Forensic Psychology. Web.