American Board of Forensic Psychology

The candidate will be able to demonstrate competency in the following Foundational and Functional Competency areas as defined below:


Relationships: The Forensic Specialist (FS) recognizes and appreciates potential role boundaries with all parties involved in forensic work by demonstrating sensitivity to the welfare, rights, and dignity of others and an ability to relate to individuals, groups and communities in ways that enhance the effectiveness of forensic services provided. The FS is aware of his/her impact on others and maintains a respectful, unbiased attitude toward the examinee, legal system, and those who serve the legal system. The FS knows his/her role, whether serving as evaluator, consultant or treatment provider.

Individual and cultural diversity: The Forensic Specialist (FS) recognizes and values individual and group differences, diversity, and culture and appreciates their impact in the psycho-legal context. The FS recognizes the effect his/her own cultural worldview and biases may have on professional work. The FS is sensitive to and skillful in working with individuals, groups and communities representative of all aspects of individual and cultural diversity (e.g., ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability status, and special populations). The FS understands how interactions between and among individuals and communities are shaped by diversity variables, and understands and responds to the potential impact an examinee’s ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and disability status may have on the forensic evaluation process.

Ethical Legal Standards Policy: The Forensic Specialist (FS) has an advanced knowledge of relevant ethical and legal standards that are intended to guide forensic practice. These include ethical and professional codes, standards, and the Forensic Specialty Guidelines; the law and legal system as they pertain to forensic practice; and applicable statutes, administrative codes, and case law in the FS’s jurisdiction of practice.

Professionalism: The Forensic Specialist (FS) exhibits a professional obligation to obtain and maintain an advanced knowledge and skill level related to the intersection of legal theory, precedent, and procedures with clinical practice, psychological science, and professional ethics. The FS recognizes the distinct differences between the forensic and clinical roles of psychologists. The FS understands how his/her proffered opinions may be used by fact finders and clients and is ready, willing and able to fully explain and document the basis for an opinion offered in a manner that can be reasonably evaluated by decision makers.

Reflective Practice/Self-Assessment/Self Care: The Forensic Specialist (FS) engages in ongoing self-reflection and routine assessment of his or her forensic professional practice. The FS practices with personal and professional self- awareness, within the boundaries of professional and forensic competencies, and demonstrates evidence of continued development based on self-reflection, self-assessment, and appropriate self-care.

Scientific Knowledge and Methods: The Forensic Specialist (FS) articulates a sound scientific basis for practice activities and is knowledgeable about scientific and scholarly developments in the field.

Interdisciplinary Systems: The Forensic Specialist (FS) demonstrates awareness of the relevant knowledge from disciplines outside psychology that are important for forensic practice. Among these are law, psychiatry, sociology, criminology, and psychopharmacology. The FS possesses an understanding of the structure of the legal system and principal precedents, statutes, and regulations.

Evidence-Based Practice: The Forensic Specialist (FS) bases his/her practice on methods that have evidence regarding their reliability and validity. When methods with less evidence for their known value are used, they are supplemented with evidence-based methods.


Assessment: The Forensic Specialist (FS) who engages in assessment obtains data from multiple sources using multiple methods to ensure that forensic assessments are comprehensive, non-biased, reliable, valid, and culturally sensitive. The case conceptualization and diagnostic assessment is grounded in science-based theory, research and practice. The FS conducts assessments that may range from the administration and interpretation of standardized tests to behavioral observations and clinical interviews, and uses instruments to test hypotheses relevant to the psycho-legal question. FSs who do not engage in assessment know the value of these assessment practices.

Intervention: The Forensic Specialist (FS) knows the value and limits of various interventions typically employed in forensic settings or with persons who appear before courts. The FS appreciates the impact of the forensic setting on therapeutic relationships and goals and is able to apply his/her knowledge of mental health law to interventions in forensic cases. The FS must be proficient in any specific interventions that he/she employs.

Consultation: The Forensic Specialist (FS) is able to advise attorneys, courts and policy makers regarding matters of mental health related to the FS’s area of expertise (e.g., criminal, civil, juvenile). He/she is aware that the role of consultant can conflict with other roles that FSs play and recognizes potential conflicts of interest and threats to objectivity that may result from the adoption of multiple roles.

Research and/or Evaluation: The Forensic Specialist (FS) knows how to determine whether research and scientific procedures used in studies relevant to his/her practice have been employed properly. If the FS is engaged in ongoing research in the forensic arena, the FS applies appropriate research methods to the question at hand.

Supervision: The Forensic Specialist (FS) is able to translate relevant and current forensic knowledge and skills to provide high-quality supervision and mentoring to trainees and colleagues. The FS recognizes the scope and limits of the role of supervisor within a forensic context.

Teaching: The Forensic Specialist (FS) is able to provide formal didactic instruction regarding his/her area of forensic psychology (e.g., student classrooms, continuing education workshops, public forums). The primary proficiency is the ability to translate forensic psychology so that it can be understood by laypersons, and to communicate that translation adequately in a lecture format.

Management/Administration: The Forensic Specialist (FS) has a basic understanding of the administrative functions of the organizations, programs or agencies in which the FS works. If the FS plays a management role in those entities, the FS engages in effective and ethical practices in fulfilling that role.

The Forensic Specialist (FS) recognizes the difference between the role of practitioner and the role of advocate who seeks to have an impact on policy, law, and public reform activities. When the FS engages in activities that publically promote change at the level of institutions, communities or society, he/she engages in activities that advocate for or empower the recipients of the services they provide.