Psycho-Legal and Forensic Psychology

The practice or study of psychology in conjunction with the law is known as forensic psychology. Psychologists who work in this field can be found in various settings, including prisons, jails, rehabilitation centres, police departments, law companies, schools, government agencies, and private practice, to mention a few. They may work directly with attorneys, defendants, offenders, victims, students, and families, as well as patients in governmental correctional or rehabilitation facilities. Other psychologists doing psycho-legal work concentrate on the intersection of psychology and the law. They may work at colleges, universities, government agencies, or different contexts to study and explore the intersection of human behaviour, criminology, and the legal system.

Professor Pretorius has extensive experience in Psycho-legal Work, including matters pertaining to residence, care and child contact, as well as the rights and responsibilities of parents and criminal matters. She applies a strict ethical approach to Psycho-legal Work. In residence, care and contact and access cases, she focuses on providing the Honourable Court with psychological information about children and parents to judge and consider the interest of both children and parents.

In terms of criminal cases, which include fraud, sexual transgressions, attempted murder, homicide, etc., psychological information of both victims and perpetrators is provided to the Honourable Court to assist with fair and ethical judgements.

Although law and forensic psychology training is required, a forensic psychologist's most crucial abilities are strong clinical skills. Clinical evaluation, interviewing, report writing, excellent verbal communication skills (particularly if serving as an expert witness in court) and case presentation are all critical components of forensic psychology practice. Psychologists doing psycho-legal work use these skills to perform tasks such as threat assessments for schools, child custody evaluations, competency evaluations of criminal defendants and the elderly, victim counselling, post-traumatic stress disorder assessments, and the delivery and evaluation of in-home therapy.

Currently, in South Africa, there is no registration category for Psychologists doing psycho-legal work. The Professional Board for Psychology is looking into creating the additional category of Forensic Psychologist, but it is not open for registration yet. So, at the moment, nobody can call themselves a Forensic Psychologist because you may only describe yourself in the category you are registered for. This, however, does not mean that psychologists in South Africa cannot perform activities associated with these other categories. Counselling, Clinical and Educational Psychologists are able to render psycholegal services in court.