Forensic Psychology

Deborah L. Collins, Psy.D., ABPP
Diplomate, American Board of Forensic Psychology


Q. What is your practice like?


“The primary focus of my practice is criminal forensic psychology. I am based in a private, court clinic where I provide administrative and clinical supervision to staff and colleagues.  My day-to-day professional activities include conducting forensic mental health evaluations of adults and juveniles regarding a variety of legal issues including insanity, competency to proceed, risk assessment, and providing court testimony as needed.  I also teach on an adjunct basis at an area law school and presently serve as a member of the American Board of Forensic Psychology.” 


Q. What motivated you to seek board certification?


“My decision to pursue board certification was motivated by a desire to practice at the highest level of competency recognized by the field.  I wanted to reach for excellence. In achieving board certification, I obtained external validation of my ability to practice with a high degree of knowledge and skill as affirmed by my colleagues.  It gave me the opportunity to join a community of colleagues with similar aspirations.” 


Q.  What was the most challenging and/or surprising aspect of the board certification process?


“One of the challenging aspects of the certification process was balancing the demands of study, and other professional and personal responsibilities.  At times, the process seemed all consuming and labor intensive.  It required hard work.  However, it also provided me a unique opportunity – the chance to sharpen my knowledge and skills as a forensic practitioner, in a way I didn’t anticipate at the outset.  An unexpected part of the process came at the end with the recognition by colleagues and other professionals – that I had accomplished a worthwhile, enriching professional goal which would set a course for my career.”


Q.  What advice would you give a candidate for board certification?


“One of the most significant, formative training experiences for me was a postdoctoral year under the supervision of a board certified forensic psychologist.  During that time, I learned to observe, think and reason about data from the perspective of a forensic psychologist.  I learned in vivo how to negotiate, ethical issues and some of the particular challenges of practicing in this field.  It was an invaluable experience.  While such an opportunity may not be practical for everyone, I strongly encourage those interested in board certification to seek out training opportunities with highly skilled and well trained forensic psychologists.  And, of course, I would also recommend the pursuit of specialized, high caliber continuing education opportunities such as those sponsored by the American Academy of Forensic Psychology.  Such workshops provide opportunities for education, networking and developing mentoring relationships within the community of board certified professionals who are committed to advancing the profession and helping others do the same.”

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