Establishing a forensic psychology practice: What steps do you take to become an effective forensic psychologist?

Let’s assume that you’ve been trained in psychology, and that you’re now considering the possibility of offering expert opinion in the legal arena, either full-time or as a supplement to your other work. What do you need to get started? Do you simply begin to offer your services?

There is nothing inherently wrong with “jumping into the pool” and hoping for the best. However, you will probably by more effective – and will find it less frustrating — if you prepare yourself first.

The question then arises: Exactly what do you need to do to prepare yourself for a forensic practice?

Whether you practice in the criminal or civil or administrative arena, you will maximize your chance of success if you first acquire information about how to proceed – from the beginning (e.g., how to market your practice and choose your cases) to the end (e.g., how to prepare for giving testimony and how to conduct yourself in the courtroom).

There are of course several different ways to acquire the information you need. You might be able to arrange to be tutored by an experienced practitioner. Some of the information may also be covered in workshops or university courses on forensic psychology. There are several textbooks you might find helpful.

There are also some DVD programs on the market. At least one of these programs – my own – covers all of the subjects you need to address if you are considering a forensic practice in the civil arena. The program is based on my 30-plus years of experience, and comes with a money-back guarantee. Psychologists and members of the legal profession have praised the program, and have commented on its thoroughness.

Whichever method(s) of preparation you choose, once you have covered all the subjects and feel confident enough to take on your first case, you will find that you have opened the door to a financially rewarding and satisfying way to use your knowledge of human behavior.

Shirley Feldman-Summers, Ph.D.

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