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The discipline of clinical psychology is evolving Clinical psychologists are no longer limited to couches and working out of their own offices They are now being put in the stand in courtrooms all over the world Not because they are on trial themselves however Rather they are there to share their expertise in areas that involve an individual in legal matters The field of forensic psychology has grown in the 21st century because courtrooms recognize the value of psychologists testimonies to help juries reach a clearer verdict Not only that but psychologists can help identify competence to stand trial perform psychological autopsies and criminal profiling and also aid in child custody cases Like all fields in psychology forensics has many perspectives This walk-through of forensic psychology will discuss the history methods and prospects for the future of this field Perspectives and History There is not a singular function that clinical psychologists perform in the legal system Rather there are many different roles and areas that they can undertake For example they can focus on law enforcement psychology the psychology of litigation correctional psychology and forensic psychology Nietzel Bernstein Milich 1998 However the latter is our main focus Forensic psychology involves many different areas in which clinical psychologists can be considered experts in competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility psychological damages in civil trials civil competencies psychological autopsies and criminal profiling and child custody and parental fitness Nietzel et al 1998 Methods of Intervention and Change The reason why criminal competence is necessary to establish is because according to United States law the criminal must understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings This is required for several reasons First if the defendant is competent the results of the trial are more likely to be accurate Second it would be considered immoral to sentence a convicted defendant of something that he or she doesnt understand Lastly the whole theory behind our judicial system relies
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