Forensic psychologists occupy a unique space in Maine, working in both the state’s criminal justice system and the field of psychology. These professionals use their specialized training and important perspective to provide solutions that would otherwise be unattainable.
A professional forensic psychologist like Diane Tennies based in Bangor is a good example of what you can achieve after years of education and experience. Dr. Tennies runs her own forensic and clinical psychology practice where she offers services that include:
- Forensic evaluations
- Parental capacity evaluations
- Child abuse risk assessments
- Social security evaluations
- Criminal defense evaluations, including for adjudicative competence
- Adolescent and adult propensity towards violence assessments
Your career goal might be to start your own practice like Dr. Tennies and provide services related to matters concerning criminal, civil and family law. Or, perhaps you want to dedicate your professional services to an agency like the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, focusing on juvenile assessments and rehabilitation.
Whatever your professional aspirations may be, you will need to start by completing the education and experience requirements necessary to qualify for a license to practice.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Maine
The state Board of Examiners of Psychologists is responsible for issuing your license to practice psychology through the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation. You can get your career started as a forensic psychologist by following these steps:
Step 1. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in the Field of Psychology
To become a licensed psychologist in Maine you must earn a doctoral degree in this subject. Naturally, the education process starts by earning an undergraduate degree.
As a resident of Maine, you have a number of options available to you through online programs and schools with campus locations in the state, including both undergraduate degrees in forensic psychology and general psychology degrees:
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Bachelor’s Degree (BA/BS) in Criminal Psychology
In a bachelor’s program you will usually be required to complete at least 120 semester credits to graduate. These can be obtained as follows:
- Approximately 60 credits of general undergraduate courses
- Approximately 34 credits in core psychology major courses
- Approximately 26 credits of electives pertaining to the field of psychology
Examples of core psychology subjects you will study can include:
- Principles of psychology research
- Introduction to criminal psychology
- Theories of personality
- Abnormal psychology
- Criminal behavior
- Abnormal child psychology
- Criminology and corrections
- Senior research project
As you near the completion of your undergraduate studies, you can start researching potential graduate schools. Some programs and designed to provide coursework at both the master’s and doctoral levels, conferring both degrees through a comprehensive program. However, the more conventional route is to earn a terminal master’s degree before going on to apply to doctoral programs.
Step 2. Earn a Master’s Degree in the Field of Psychology
Master’s degree programs in the field of psychology each have their own unique admission requirements, with common standards including:
- An undergraduate degree, which may require coursework in psychology or forensic psychology
- Minimum GPA, such as a 3.0
- Resume or CV
- Personal essay
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE, general test or subject test in psychology
As a prospective graduate student in Maine you can choose among different types of programs:
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Forensic Psychology
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- Master’s Degree (MA/MS) in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology
A two-year master’s program is comprised of around 48 semester credits, which can be broken down as follows:
- Approximately 24 credits of core graduate courses
- Approximately 24 credits of electives pertaining to the field of psychology
Your thesis, research, capstone project, internship, or practicum can also be included in these credits, or may be counted separately. You can tailor these educational experiences towards subjects in forensic psychology to gain experience relevant to your future career. For example, you could write your graduate thesis on techniques of crisis intervention when responding to incidents of domestic violence.
Core master’s courses that may be part of your studies cover subjects like:
- Emotional development and adaptation
- Forensic mediation
- Ethics and professional problems
- Advanced methods in forensic psychology
- Hostage negotiations
- Evaluation and treatments within the criminal justice system
- Clinical psychology and forensics
- Treatment and evaluation of special populations
- Minorities, crime, and the criminal justice system
- Intelligence testing
Step 3. Earn a Doctoral Degree in the Field of Psychology
To be eligible for a psychology license in Maine, the doctoral program you complete must meet high standards. The Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists has determined that doctoral degrees that are approved by any of the following organizations meet the qualifying standards of education:
- American Psychological Association (APA)
- Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)
- National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
If the program you graduate from is not approved by any of these agencies, you must convince the board that your education was of high enough caliber.
Approved schools in Maine are located in the cities of:
You will find the entrance requirements for doctoral programs in psychology are similar to those for master’s programs. You may additionally be evaluated on criteria like:
- Related work experience
- Master’s thesis research or topic
- Published academic work
There are two main types of doctoral programs in the field of psychology, PsyD and PhD. PsyD programs emphasize clinical practice and treatments, while PhD programs emphasize research. However both types of programs share many similar and overlapping elements.
Examples of programs you can choose from include:
- PhD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD in Forensic Psychology
- PsyD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
- PhD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Forensics
A two-year doctoral program in Psychology or Forensic Psychology can be broken down into the following components:
- Core psychology/forensic psychology courses, including those in specific areas of focus
- Doctoral thesis
- Training, field work, practicum and internships
Doctoral programs offer you the opportunity to take classes in a particular area of focus. This will help you develop advanced skills in a certain specialization. Courses within a forensic psychology specialization can include:
- Adult and juvenile forensic assessments
- Child and family psychology
- Clinical psychology
- Sex offender psychology
- Corrections psychology
- Investigative psychology
- Police psychology
Your doctoral program will also include resources about locations and programs where you can complete your required post-doctoral supervised work experience.
Step 4. Complete the Supervised Work Experience Requirement
Before you will be eligible to become a licensed psychologist you must complete two years of supervised work experience that meets the following requirements
- At least 1,500 hours of pre-doctoral supervised work experience
- At least 1,500 hours of post-doctoral supervised work experience
Examples of approved locations where you can complete this experience include:
- University of Maine’s Counseling Center in Orono
- VA Maine Healthcare System in Augusta
Step 5. Apply for a License with the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Once you have reached this step it will be time to fill out an application for licensure, submitting this to:
Department of Professional and Financial Regulation
Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation
35 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
This application for licensure will also serve as your application to complete your testing requirements.
Option for Temporary License
If you have passed your Maine Jurisprudence Examination and are waiting to take the EPPP, you have the option to apply for a temporary license with the Board of Examiners of Psychologists. This license is valid for up to a year until you pass the EPPP, and allows you to practice under the supervision of another licensed psychologist.
Option for Psychological Examiner License
This is another type of psychologist license you can apply for, however it will place limitations on your professional capabilities as a forensic psychologist. Psychological examiners are limited to the following duties:
- Interviewing clients to assess mental abilities
- Administering and interpreting tests of mental abilities or personality
- Conducting psychological assessments
You may perform certain additional duties associated with psychologists under supervision, however you are not permitted to provide psychotherapy services as a psychological examiner.
To be eligible for this license you must have a master’s degree in psychology, one year of supervised work experience, and pass the required tests. If you choose to pursue this course of licensure you can find application information on the Board of Examiners of Psychologists’ psychological examiner licensing webpage.
Step 6. Pass the Required Examinations
You will be cleared to test once your application for licensure as a psychologist has been determined to be complete and qualifying by Board of Examiners of Psychologists. This application review process can take up to three months to complete.
You need to pass two tests to become a licensed psychologist:
- National Examination for Professionals Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
- Maine Jurisprudence Examination
Examination for Professionals Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
The Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists will let you know when it has notified the sponsoring company of the EPPP that it has cleared you to test. The sponsoring company is the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), and when you have been cleared to test you can register for the EPPP online.
Prometric testing centers where the EPPP is offered are located in the cities of:
- Bangor – 1460 Outer Hammond Street, Unit 8
- South Portland – 20 Atlantic Place on the corner of Darling Avenue and Foden Road
You can start preparing for this exam by studying the EPPP Candidate Handbook. You will have 255 minutes to complete 225 multiple-choice questions on the topics of:
- Diagnosis and assessment
- Statistics and research methods
- Cognitive-affective bases of behavior
- Professional, ethical, and legal issues
- Growth and lifespan development
- Cultural and social bases of behavior
- Prevention, intervention, treatment, and supervision
- Biological bases of behavior
Maine Jurisprudence Examination
Once the board has processed your application for licensure it will send you the Maine Jurisprudence Examination by registered mail. From the time you receive this test you will have 20 days to complete and return it to the board.
This examination covers the laws and rules that pertain to practicing as a psychologist in Maine. You can prepare for the open-book examination by studying:
- Maine Psychologist Rules
- Maine Psychologist Laws
- APA Psychologist Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct
- ASPPB Code of Conduct
- Maine Rules of Evidence – Rule 503
Step 7. Launch Your New Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Maine
With your well-deserved psychology license in hand you are qualified to apply for forensic psychology jobs in Maine’s public or private sector. You also have the option of starting your own practice or doing consulting work on a freelance basis.
The following careers are examples taken from a survey of job boards throughout the state in August of 2015. These are provided for illustrative purposes only:
Consulting Services Clinician with the Eastern Maine Healthcare System (EMHS) in Bangor – you can qualify for this position by being a licensed psychologist. As part of this job you will provide psychiatric and chemical dependency triage assessments at varying levels of urgency.
Forensic Psychologist with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services – you need to be a licensed psychologist for this position. As part of your duties you will work in a clinical environment to conduct forensic assessments on the mental state of criminal suspects. You will also need to provide courtroom testimony, create reports based on forensic data, and supervise other clinicians who are training.
Psychologist III at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta – you must have a doctoral degree in psychology and be at least eligible to become a licensed psychologist to qualify for this position. You will receive preferential consideration for this job if you have previous experience working in a forensic treatment environment. This position entails providing a full range of psychological services in an adult inpatient setting.
You can find additional resources about the licensing process and forensic psychology jobs in Maine with the following organizations:
- Maine Psychological Association
- Maine Association for Infant and Mental Health
- Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program
- American Board of Forensic Psychology
- Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
- American College of Forensic Psychology
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Step 8. Maintain Your License with the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation
As you develop your career and pursue your professional goals, remember that you will need to renew your psychologist license every year by April 30th.
As part of the renewal requirements you will need to earn at least 40 hours of continuing professional education by your license renewal period in even-numbered years. In other words, you must earn this 40 hours of continuing education every two years.
The Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists may audit your continuing education, at which point you will need to provide documented proof of completing these credits.
Continuing education must be approved by the board, is generally taught by a professional, and tends to be granted for activities that further your knowledge of forensic psychology in particular, or psychology in general.
Each year the board issues a list of pre-approved providers of continuing education. Some recent organizations on this list include:
- American Psychological Association
- Administrative Office of the Court (Maine)
- American Red Cross
- Bangor Area Psychological Society
- Bay Counseling Seminars
- American Red Cross
- Canadian Psychological Association
- Canadian Register of Health Service Providers
- Co-Occurring Collaborative Serving Maine
- Maine Psychological Association
- Maine Association for Infant and Mental Health
- Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program
- Togus Veterans Administration Medical Center
- Maine General Medical Center
- Maine Medical Center