1 Overview of Forensic Psychology

Forensic Psychology


  1. Randy K. Otto PhD, ABPP1,
  2. Alan M. Goldstein PhD, ABPP2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop211001

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Otto, R. K. and Goldstein, A. M. 2012. Overview of Forensic Psychology. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 11:I:1.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of South Florida, Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Tampa, Florida, USA

  2. 2

    City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


The specialty of forensic psychology can trace its roots to the beginning of the 20th century, when Professor Hugo Münsterberg implored judges and lawyers to seek the assistance of psychologists when wrestling with a variety of issues they were faced with, and psychologists began assessing youth who were involved in legal proceedings in newly established juvenile courts. The landscape of forensic psychology—has changed dramatically in the ensuing century. The American Psychological Association has formally recognized forensic psychology as a specialty, training opportunities are available at all levels (graduate, internship, fellowship, continuing education) for psychologists and aspiring psychologists interested in the area, focused professional organizations and publications are thriving, and practitioners can demonstrate their competence via a certification process offered by the American Board of Forensic Psychology. Münsterberg would be happy to know that, consistent with his hopes, current-day forensic psychologists engage in a variety of pursuits and activities that impact the legal system, including research, teaching, consultation, treatment, and evaluation. It is this latter activity that is the focus of this volume, which provides a contemporary overview of the field. After a review of issues that are relevant to all forensic psychology practice, a variety of civil, criminal, and special forensic evaluation activities are addressed by chapter authors, followed by presentation of a number of chapters devoted to important and challenging non-assessment pursuits.


  • forensic;
  • history;
  • Münsterberg;
  • specialty;
  • certification;
  • training;
  • competence