Due to the recent growth of the forensic psychology field, several forensic psychology internships have started emerging in the field. These internships are usually specific to an area of forensic psychology and offer great experience for anyone who is planning on becoming a forensic psychologist.
While these specific internships do exist, don’t be dismayed by the overall lack of availability of forensic psychology specific internships.
Instead, seek out a general doctoral internship that offers a specialized forensic track, rotation or experience. Also, look for an internship that boasts a forensic psychologist as part of their teaching staff. This way, you will have access to supervised forensic experiences, while also having the benefit of an experienced supervisor who can mentor and guide you. Because of the lack of availability of forensic psychology internships, gaining forensic experience in your general psychology internship will already put you ahead of most people on the same track.
While considering doctoral internships, keep in mind that the most important aspect of an internship is that it is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Are you wondering why accreditation is so important? Take a look at the APA website, which provides the following to consider:
“Although graduating from an accredited program does not guarantee jobs or licensure for individuals, it may facilitate such achievement. It reflects the quality by which an educational institution or a program conducts its business. It speaks to a sense of public trust, as well as to professional quality.
As a student: Accreditation provides assurance that the program in which you are enrolled or are considering enrolling is engaged in continuous review and improvement of its quality, that it meets nationally endorsed standards in the profession, and that it is accountable for achieving what it sets out to do.
As a faculty member: Accreditation provides a formal process for ongoing evaluation and improvement of your program and faculty development outcomes, a process by which faculty, students, and administration can work together in advancing the educational institution’s mission.
As a psychologist: Accreditation provides a forum in which educators and practitioners of psychology can exchange ideas on future needs of the profession and ways in which to best address these needs in professional education and training.
As a member of the public: Accreditation ensures public accountability of a program or an institution — that it has the means and demonstrates the outcomes for its educational process that are consistent with its goals and objectives; in other words, that there is ‘truth in advertising.’ “
The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) is a great place to search for accredited internships. In short, APPIC describes itself as being “committed to enhancing internship and postdoctoral training in professional psychology.” You can begin your search here: https://membership.appic.org/directory/search.
As a reference, listed below is the first page of a search from Fall 2016 for available internships that included the word “forensic” in the description.
Lastly, when considering post-doctoral programs, it is important to find APA approved programs. In addition, consider the post-doctoral programs highlighted by the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP). ABFP has determined that formal training in certain programs can act as a waiver to the five-year experience requirement for those applicants who are pursuing board certification through ABPP in the area of forensic psychology. A list of these post-doctoral programs can be found here: ABPP Post-Doctoral training programs in forensic psychology. For more information about Board Certification in Forensic Psychology, visit the American Board of Professional Psychology. http://www.abpp.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3356