There is a need for professionals who work closely with criminals and other disturbed persons, to insulate themselves from the influence of these personalities to keep their own well being. It doesn’t mean that they have to distance themselves and get the fear of becoming the same with these personalities. However, working with people who would generally be described as “bad” day in and day out can have an effect on your psychology. This is true even in college. If you start studying forensic psychology, you are going to run across a lot of disturbing things. Being prepared for this means setting up resources that you can use to help you create some distance between what you’re studying and yourself.
What You’ll Face
Forensic psychologists have that particular title because they work within the legal system. As you may have suspected, they work within the criminal legal system more than anything else. When you’re in school, you’re going to study a lot of cases that have to do with individuals who are responsible for some truly gruesome acts, hideous crimes and who demonstrate a psychology that is so divergent from the norm that it can be genuinely disturbing to try to understand them.
This part of studying forensic psychology is actually preparing you for what you would deal with as a practicing forensic psychologist. If you’re taking on this field, you have to keep in mind that you probably will end up having conversations with murderers and other individuals who have the types of disordered personalities that can be very dark. As a forensic psychologist, you are a scientist and you have to learn to have some detachment from the subjects of your study. This is similar to what physicians would call clinical detachment. Such detachment may make physicians seem cold and uncaring at times, but remember that they couldn’t do their jobs if they were wincing every time that they sutured a wound, gave an injection are performed another act that caused very real pain.
As a psychologist, you’re going to have to learn to distance yourself from the people that you work with. To be effective, you cannot allow them to skew your view of the world.
Like any other professional who may end up, in the course of their jobs, making diagnoses, a forensic psychologist cannot diagnose themselves. One of the important things you may want to consider doing while you are in college is finding a counselor that you can set up meetings with so you can discuss how you feel about what you’re learning. It’s hard to remember that, when you’re mired in stories about some of the worst people who have ever walked the earth, most people are not like that. Sometimes, spending too much time studying the darkness in people can lead you to believe that there is really no hope for anyone, resulting in a cynical attitude and cynics seldom make good forensic psychologists.
If you are studying to become a forensic psychologist, make sure you do have a good support system set up for yourself. Have friends that you can talk to, talk to your professors and look for other ways that you can vent your feelings about the people that you’re studying. This will actually give you a very viable skill. When you start working as a forensic psychologist for real, you’re going to need to know how to express what you’re feeling without violating any ethical codes or legal requirements put upon you. If you are a practicing forensic psychologist, you will most certainly need that support system.
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