Term Paper: Clinical and Forensic Psychology

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Clinical and Forensic Psychology

Clinical vs. forensic psychology: An overview

Clinical psychology and forensic psychology are two of the most common subtypes of the field that individuals are likely to encounter: one, on a personal level as a client and the second through movies and television shows such as CSI and Law and Order. Although basic concepts derived from the history of psychology are applied in both forms of practice, the focus of each specialty is quite different: one seeks to heal the individual; the other seeks to enable the justice system to function. Forensic psychology thus serves the law first, the individual second.

Clinical psychology focuses on healing the individual and bringing the individual to a state of mental wellness and well-being (Clinical psychology, 2010). Clinical psychology's earliest origins may be traced back to Freudian psychoanalysis, where Freud's concept of the subconscious mind gave rise to a technique of probing, analytical free associations designed to free long-buried conflicts from the repressed memory of the patient. Later, even after Freudian conceptions of the ego, superego, and id were challenged by other clinical practitioners such as Carl Rogers and cognitive behavioral therapists, the focus of Clinical psychology tended to remain the same: upon the individual or nuclear family unit (Clinical psychology, 2010). The therapist uses his or her skills on a personal level to help a client, married couple, or family become more functional in society.

In contrast, forensic psychology focuses upon improving the functioning of the criminal justice system. A criminal profiler might attempt to understand the typical criminal 'profile' of an individual likely to have committed a particular crime. He or she might provide assistance to law enforcement to better enable the police to apprehend a criminal. Later, a forensic psychologist might interview a defendant to determine if the defendant is competent to stand trial, and can assist in his or her own defense.

Clinical and forensic psychologists share a common language. Both diagnose individuals using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders. A clinical psychologist and a forensic psychologist, for example, might both diagnose an individual as having a sociopathic or borderline personality disorder. But the goal of the clinical psychologist is to help the individual, through psychotropic medication and/or therapy to abandon negative behavioral patterns with others. A forensic psychologist might instead state that a sociopathic defendant is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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