Have you been planning to become a forensic psychologist someday but has never actually gotten the time to pursue it? Among other things, studying forensic psychology needs ample preparation. No need to sweat though as there are ways that you can prepare yourself for the coursework in advance. These ways do not involve watching movies or television shows that involve forensic psychology. Those shows can be entertaining, of course, but they are designed to entertain and not to inform. Take a look at some of the resources below and you can learn a lot.
Read Up on Sociology
Traditionally, psychology and sociology are relegated to what are called the “soft sciences”. These are sciences that utilize traditional scientific techniques—gathering and analyzing data, for instance—but that also involve a lot of subjective conclusions.
Sociology is a good corollary to psychology, particularly where criminal justice is concerned. As an example, imagine that you’re called upon to analyze a known gang member who is charged with murder but who is trying to plead insanity. The sociology skills you have could help you to understand the group dynamics, social pressures and other pressures that may have played a part in the defendant becoming involved with a violent gang in the first place, which may lead to a deeper understanding of that individual’s psychology.
If you want to understand psychology to a more significant level than you do now, there are good resources that you can use. Anything published by the APA is a good start, as it will be grounded in science and not in entertainment value. There are good websites that you can take a look at, too, but be wary of the ones that go for sensationalism.
You may even want to consider talking to practicing forensic psychologists. This will give you a good idea of what actually being a forensic psychologist is like. Remember that pursuing a degree means that you’re currently involved in a career as a college student rather than in a career that goes along with your degree field. Understanding what’s involved in your job is sometimes better accomplished by talking to people already employed in that field than it is by making assumptions based on what you’re studying in school.
True Crime Literature
There is some good true crime literature out there that you may want to look into. The less sensational examples will usually center on criminals who committed their crimes long ago. For instance, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and other criminals whose cases have long since concluded have been the subjects of good, authoritative writers. Be wary of books about the latest crimes, however, as they may try to take a more sensational angle to sell copies.
You can learn a bit from the procedures and techniques detailed in these books. Remember, however, that you’re not likely to be working on such important cases when you get your first job as a forensic psychologist with a law enforcement agency.
Talk to a Lawyer
You may be able to find a lawyer who will sit down with you and give you information about how they use forensic psychology in their work. This can give you some insight into career options other than working for a police department. Some forensic psychologists make their way in life by working as expert witnesses for defense attorneys and this can be very gratifying work.
There are plenty of resources you can use to learn more about this career and, if you want to pursue it as a degree subject, you should take the opportunity to learn more about it. You may find that forensic psychology is actually more interesting than you thought when you first started to consider the degree.
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