Criminal Psychology

Haley O’Brien




Criminal Psychology

There are many people and jobs created throughout the justice system. Each career serves an equally important purpose, yet some jobs still are being unappreciated. While we watch shows such as CSI and Law & Order, we primarily watch policemen and forensic scientists, yet there is one person that is in dire need of recognition that helps solve murders as well: criminal psychologists.

As you probably have no idea what a criminal psychologist is, I am sure you would appreciate a definition. A criminal psychologist, better known as a crime shrink, is someone who studies the wills, thoughts, intentions, and reactions, and all that partakes in the mind of criminals. The majority of criminal psycologist have the same task: study and find out why people do the crimes they do. However, they may be asked to interview the criminals and make educated and informed decisions on whether the criminal will re-offend in the future. While also helping the law enforcement solve crimes or analyze criminals, crime shrinks are very often asked to testify in court due to their expert testimony. Through all of their hard work and dedication, all criminal psycologist have the same general goals in mind…  To inspect and better the criminal justice system, improve the justice system interviewing, detecting deception, and research both courtroom psychology and jury decision making.

There are many different obstacles one must face in order to become a criminal psycologist. To become a crime shrink in the state of Arkansas, you first need to understand that higher education is the primary step. While having your bachelor’s is a great start, this will still limit you in the types of jobs you are eligible for, primarily research and support roles. For this reason, anyone looking for a criminal psychology career should pursue their education by receiving a doctorate. Once you have received your doctorate and Ph.D for criminal psychologist, Arkansas requires two years or two thousand hours of completed internship approved by the APA,  American Psychological Association. The next step in making your criminal psychologist career dream come true,  is to apply for a license through the Arkansas Psychology Board and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) in order to qualify for a formal interview and oral examination.

Even though you receive your certification and are now a licensed shrink, tips are always a good idea to take part in. One of the best tips given to upcoming criminal psychologist is given by the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology. Volunteering in a forensic setting can greatly improve your skills. Stated by the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology, “Students pursuing a career in criminal psychology may benefit from volunteering in a forensic setting, like a parole office or abuse shelter, to gain hands-on experience.” An addition to help you gain experience in the criminal field, volunteering can also help a students stand out when applying for things such as scholarships and graduate school.  Another good suggestion made by the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology is to participate in even additional internships. Internships help future psychologist gain the skills and experiences needed for their future careers.

Once in the actual field, there can be quite a lot to expect. Being a criminal psychologist is a very stressful job. In this career field, you will be trying to help convicted criminals, some of which have no desire to be helped. While trying to help them, you must also be careful. Criminal psychologist must always be cautious of the dangerous scenarios that may arise. The work environment also vary from criminal psychologist to criminal psycologist. Some work environment conclude prison settings or office settings.

Typically, a criminal psychologist works about 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, allowing you to have a 37 hour work week. However, many criminal shrinks’ hours vary. Some flexibility is required, due to the fact that you will be needed to work some weekends and evenings. Fortunately, if you decide to work only part-time, that’s still an option. Also, you are eligible to take a career break, depending on the employer.

As a criminal psycologist, you have many responsibilities. Your job is crucial to not only you, but other people’s lives. One of the most important duties you have to do as a criminal psychologist is to carry out one-to-one assessments. These are assessments that are dedicated to questioning the criminal to see if they are searching for an opportunity to reoffend, self-harm, suicide, or other high risk behavior that could affect themselves or others. You will also have to create, present, and critique correct offender rehabilitation and prevention programs. These programs can include: anger management, treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, and social speaking and understanding skill training. Another big responsibility as a criminal psychologist is to stay updated on all the recent discoveries of both criminals and psychology.  You need to begin research projects to assess situations that could affect your client, the criminal. These research projects can include the inquiry of things such as bullying in prison cells or the effect and effectiveness of an anger management program. You’ll also need to undertake statistical analysis on criminal profiling. Knowing such things can greatly help you in your future battles as a criminal shrink.

One responsibility that often gets overlooked, is to be a supportive team member with your fellow criminal psychologists. As being a shrink for completely vial people might be a little tough, you can only imagine the amount of encouragement needed to maintain a healthy life. You can deliver a great comfort team by having a stress management session and training camps that illustrate the correct way to cope with understanding techniques to better the crisis interrogation process. The support team is also good to sustain due to the fact that many criminal psycologist have to testify in a court setting. This can be extremely difficult and nerve wracking. Criminal psychologist must provide their expert testimonies as a witness in court for parole boards and mental health tribunals. Last but not least, criminal psychologist will always need room to improve and provide development for further policy and strategy development to help ensure constant improvement.

Thankfully, within time, we have learned a great deal about past and current serial killers and criminals. By studying dark criminals, we can try to get a rare glimpse into the mind of all criminals. One particular criminal that was closely examinedcomes to mind. He is one of the most infamous criminals of all time: Ted Bundy.

Theodore Robert Bundy was born on November 24, 1946. His mother, Eleanor Louise Cowell, was an unwed mother and was unaware of the true father of Bundy. After the claims that Eleanor made of Ted’s biological father, speculation arose that it might of been Eleanor’s own abusive father, Samuel Cowell who fathered Theodore. Despite this claim, Ted Bundy was raised by his grandparents for the first three years on his life. His grandparents actually raised him as if he was their own son, making his true biological mother his sister. At the time, having a child out of wedlock was extremely frowned upon and both the mother and grandparents thought that raising him in such a manner would prevent the social stigma. However, when Ted Bundy found out the truth, it just created a lifelong resentment towards his mother, Eleanor.

Soon after Ted Bundy was in college, he started dating a young lady by the name of Stephanie Brooks. Once he fell in love, Brooks terminated the relationship. He then started focusing on his education and becoming a professional and productive citizen. Years later, he contacted Stephanie Brooks again, in which they soon begin to date. Eventually, they started talking about married. He then disappeared and denied all allegations of being in a relationship with her. When asked for a reason behind this, he simply said “I wanted to prove that I could marry her.” Soon after, Ted Bundy stopped any further education. At the same time, girls started to disappear.

Before he was killed in 1989, he confessed to killing 30 young women, all with the same looks of his first true love, Stephanie Brooks. A lot of things had happened to Ted Bundy that caused him to cause such horrific acts to all those young women,. It could have been anything from the childhood with lies or the heartbreaking of his college romance. Whatever it was, Ted Bundy’s criminal psychologist was going to get to the bottom of it.

After his first arrest in 1975, Bundy was evaluated by a criminal psychologist at the Utah State Prison, Dr. Al Carlisle. Carlisle was asked to do an evaluation for the court, in which he states, “I spent about twenty hours with Bundy on the psychological assessment.” Throughout his studies of Ted Bundy, Carlisle left with more knowledge than anyone would have suspected.

In order to evaluate Ted Bundy, Dr. Carlisle had to do a lot of research on Bundy’s previous education. It was then, he had found out that Bundy took psychology classes. Instead of asking typical questions, Carlisle knew to complete his assignments and gather information from people that were close to the infamous Ted Bundy. In Dr. Carlisle’s research, he said, “He was described as intelligent, high achievement-oriented, had the acumen necessary for a political career, and he was loyal to a cause.” And yet, Ted Bundy had a fire steaming inside that only killing could put out.

Throught all of the psychology assessments, each one came out “clean.” This meant that Carlisle didn’t see anything in Ted Bundy that was typical and other serial killers. Since his tests came back clean, Ted Bundy didn’t get the privilege of probation. Instead, he was sent to medium-security unit. When it became clear that Bundy was planning his escape from prison, he was locked up in maximum security, where he spent his last days.

Despite Ted Bundy being put on death row, Dr. Al Carlisle continued to question, evaluate, and study Ted Bundy. He gathered information about him personally. He would talk about his fraudulent childhood, his heartbreaker girlfriend, and even why he did the things he did to 30 helpless women. Such conversations and interviews allowed Dr. Al Carlisle to assemble and form a theory about serial killers in general.

Criminal shrinks give the connection between psychology and law. People that are trained in such a field are called upon for many different areas of the justice system. They’re needed in many different aspects, including assessing criminals that are claiming insanity, ability to stand trial, assessments for violence and risk behavior, anaylsis of polygraphs, and even questioning of child custody.

Although being a criminal psychologist will be a stressful job, it will be worth it. Criminal psychologists are needed in many aspects of the criminal justice system, and it just a matter of time until other’s realize the importance of having a criminal psychologist assigned to every convicted felon. Just like Dr. Al Carlisle, through studies of the most tormented people, we can further our education and understanding of not only past experiences, but also our present. Through the studies of criminal psychologists, everyone can further their understanding and maybe even prevent future crimes from happening. The more we understand the world and the people around us, the better place it will. It is just a matter of time before criminal shrinks get the recognition they deserve and it is just a matter of time until the world becomes a better place.


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