Question for Forensic Post Docs and Beyond

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10+ Year Member
May 3, 2013
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Hi all!

So I have a question for you. I have long term goals of either including or focusing on forensic evaluations once I'm licensed. I have a year of practicum experience with evals. I'm currently in the middle of internship season (preparing my Rank Order List) and my top site offers extensive experience with comprehensive psychological assessments, but not with forensic evaluations.

My question is, would NOT having a forensic eval component during internship prevent me from being able to be competitive for formal post doc positions that are all about evaluations?


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PSYDR is probably one of the best people here to field questions like these, though he's more forensic neuropsychology than more generalist forensic.
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I honestly don't know. When I was at that stage, forensic post docs were kinda easy to come by so long as you were willing to take low pay and remain flexible. That has likely changed.

One could argue that forensics covers an incredibly wide area, because almost anything can lead to criminal or civil action. That would mean that you could gain experience in clinical stuff and "translate" that to a forensic post doc. You should look up if correctional psychology is still part of forensics, because that would be an easy way to get a post doc with only clinical experience. However, IME, the vast majority of forensic work is sex offender stuff which might be important to learn about before post doc.

Forensics is one of those specialties that is quickly increasing requirements. That, neuro, and med, are the only boards that require a written test.
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When I was applying to postdocs, most sites wanted to see that I had some experience with either risk assessments or competency to stand trial evaluations (either in practicum or on internship). That was a few years ago, so things might be different now, but I'd venture to guess the expectation is the same. If your top choice internship only offers focused psychological assessment, and you haven't had experience conducting risk assessments or CST evals during your clinical training (and maybe you have), I would consider choosing a site that provides more exposure to formal forensic evals.

That's not to say you won't be able to get a forensic postdoc, but in terms of "competitiveness," I'd say you'd be less competitive than someone with that experience.

Hope that's helpful and best of luck!
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Having completed a formal post-doc and now being on the other side reviewing applications for forensically-oriented internships/post-docs, I would say that you would be less competitive with only one year of pre-internship evaluation experience. Not to say that you wouldn't have a shot, there are just a ton of qualified applicants with not only evaluation experience but forensic research interests. As such, competition for ABPP-waiver approved post doc sites is very stiff. Here is another layer to consider. From what I've gathered, many forensic post-doc applicants seem to feed in from the same handful of internship sites/programs, so internship choice and networking play a huge role. My colleagues and I like to joke that there is really only one degree of separation in the forensic world and this frequently proves true.
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While it may not prevent you, it will make it very hard for you. Especially, if you have NO forensic evaluation (comp evals, risk assessments) experience during internship. Having psychological assessment experience is helpful, but its not enough to be as competitive as other applicants who will have the forensic experience. I agree with Boomshakalaka. The forensic psych world is small, so networking is important.

Just for frame of reference: I completed a forensic post doc at a ABPP waiver site recently. I had forensic eval experience during internship, and in my practicum.
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I completed a forensic internship, waiver approved ABFP fellowship, and also had trained under an abfp psychogist/attorney prior to internship. Short answer to your question...yes. long answer....if you want to do it, a fellowship isn't a deal breaker. In my short three years practicing independently, I've found that the connections you make with attorneys and the quality of your work product far outweigh if you did or didn't complete a formal postdoc. Both of my bosses/mentors are boarded, attorneys, and neither ever completed a postdoc. They hit the ground running building their brand. Now, they did have to do a lot of work on their end in terms of learning what they needed to know. The forensic fellowship is nice there. Plus the 5 year waiver is great.