What is the difference between a Forensic Psychiatrist and a Forensic Psychologist?

Psychiatrists are medical physicians with specialty training in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychologists are professionals in their own right, and have special expertise in topics not usually studied in detail by psychiatrists such as objective mental health assessment,

What is Forensic Psychiatry?

Forensic psychiatry is the interface between law and psychiatry. It involves the assessment and treatment of mentally abnormal offenders, as well as the legal aspects of psychiatry which require knowledge of the law relating to ordinary psychiatric practice, civil law and issues of criminal responsibility.

Forensic psychiatry also includes psychiatric consultation in a wide variety of legal matters (including expert witness testimony) as well as clinical work with perpetrators and victims.

What Does a Forensic Psychiatrist Do?

Forensic psychiatrists are involved in the care of prisoners, both those in jails and those in prisons, and in the care of the mentally ill and dangerous (such as those who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity).

Forensic psychiatrists may be involved with criminal matters, civil litigation (such as malpractice lawsuits), competence, lawsuits to do things (like make a will, consent to medical care, or take care of children), child custody, treating and working with mentally ill people who get in trouble with the law, helping victims of crimes or helping lawyers and judges understand the psychological aspects of their cases or appearing as expert witnesses.

What Training Does a Forensic Psychiatrist need?

Most practitioners of forensic psychiatry have extra training. In the United States, one year fellowships are offered in this field to psychiatrists who have completed their general psychiatry training. In Britain the requirement is a three-year subspecialty training in forensic psychiatry, after the completion of general psychiatry training.


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