The Difference Between Forensic Psychiatrists and Forensic Psychologists
In Latin the word “forensic” means “of
the forum”, which was the place where
ancient Romans held court.
In legal proceedings, both forensic
psychiatrists and forensic
psychologists are called upon as
expert witnesses to illuminate issues
involving mental health as far as the
law is concerned.
Both are brought in to advise and
explain the complexities of psychology
and psychiatry to the judge and jury in
an easy to understand way.
of, relating to, or denoting the application of
scientific methods and techniques to the
investigation of crime.
scientific tests or techniques used in connection
with the detection of crime.
• Both forensic psychologists and psychiatrists take part in civil and
criminal proceedings, for either the defendants or the plaintiffs.
• They can be called to act as a researcher, advisor, or expert witness.
• They both report on topics like: fabricated illness, mental capability,
and future risk.
• Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists have different focuses but
complete harmonizing tasks; often the two specialties will work
• In the next few pages, we’ll breakdown these two fields separately.
We’ll also dive into the type of education and training that is required
the practice or science of diagnosing
and treating mental disorders.
the branch of medicine concerned wit
h the diagnosis and treatment of ment
Forensic psychiatrists evaluate
for the plaintiffs in civil matters
and the defendants in criminal
In civil litigation, they must
evaluate whether the plaintiff
has a mental health disorder,
and then assess how that
disorder impaired them.
As an expert witness, they will
act more as a teacher for the
jury or judge, explaining how
psychiatry’s processes and
theories relate to the matters at
They can also be brought into
a case to determine if a person
is faking a mental illness.
the science of the mind or of mental
states and processes.
the sum or characteristics of the
mental states and processes of a
person or class of persons, or of the
mental states and processes involved
in a field of activity: the psychology of
a soldier; the psychology of politics.
Forensic Psychologists will also be brought in for
their expertise in the field of psychology as
pertaining to civil and criminal matters. The
difference is that psychologists rely on
psychometric and neuropsychological testing;
these tests will supply impartial data or
Psychometric and neuropsychological testing is
usually supplied to sustain the findings of the
If trained, psychologists can perform
neurocognitive and personality evaluations in
children, adolescents and adults, and relay their
findings to the judge or jury.
To become a board certified forensic psychiatrist, one
must complete the following:
• MD medical degree
• 3-year residency in the field of psychiatry
• 1-year fellowship in forensic psychiatry
• Take the forensic psychiatry test offered by
the American Board of Psychiatry and
To become a board certified forensic psychologist, one must
complete the following:
• 100 hours of formal education
• 1,000 hours of experience in addition to more education
• American Board of Professional Psychology will issue the
The primary duty of both of these
professions is to remain completely
neutral and objective, so that all of their
findings and evaluations are accurate.
The finding must be based on
evidence and not skewed by the
relationship between the one being
evaluated and the psychiatrist or
All testimony and proof must be based
solely on the information collected from
interviews, tests and medical
Both forensic psychologists
and forensic psychiatrists
complete tasks that relate to
the mental health of a person
in either civil or criminal
Psychiatrists mainly deal with
emotional damages and
Psychologists test and
analyze the psychological
responses to sustain the
findings in a legal manner.
Fpamed supplies forensic psychiatric and
psychological testimony based on
evidence to legal proceedings. They have
a highly trained staff including five forensic
psychiatrists and two forensic
neuropsychologists to help provide crucial
information to a jury or judge.
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• Explore the differences and similarities to
the professions and education
requirements between forensic
psychologists and forensic psychiatrists.