Forensic psychologists are the authorities on how psychology is applied to the criminal justice process. They help support criminal investigations, assess the mental state of accused criminals and testify in court as expert witnesses.
In one important local case, forensic psychologist Dr. Tom Powell of Vermont weighed in on the psychology of “couple crimes” as it related to Allen and Patricia Prue who were accused of kidnapping, assaulting, and killing Melissa Jenkins, a St. Johnsbury Academy Teacher. After working in the Vermont Department of Corrections, Dr. Powell had seen this type of crime all too often.
He explains that when a romantically involved couple commits a crime, there is generally a significant amount of planning that goes into it—all based upon a foundation of relationship issues such as anger, power, and frustration. There also tends to be one dominant force in the couple that sways the other toward fantasies, pornography, and planning the crime.
In the case of Allen and Patricia Prue, the dominant force was Patricia. Despite the findings of forensic psychologist Dr. Phillip Kinsler, who concluded that she suffered from multiple personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders, Patricia pled guilty to the crimes in 2015. Patricia apologized to the family of the victim for not getting the mental help she needed earlier, and her lawyer used the sentencing to call for mental health support and early intervention.
After earning a BA in Psychology, an MA in Clinical Psychology, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Kinsler went on to serve as an experienced expert witness, testifying on criminal, civil, and family court matters before becoming involved in this landmark case.
Steps to Becoming a Forensic Psychologist in Vermont
If you’re ready to begin your career as a forensic psychologist in Vermont and work side-by-side with detectives, federal agents, and judges to support the criminal justice process, you’ll need to start by earning a psychologist license through the Vermont Board of Psychological Examiners.
For guidance on how to become a licensed psychologist in Vermont, follow these simple steps:
Step 1. Earn your Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Psychology
Your bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will lay the theoretical foundation of criminal justice studies, psychology studies, and law studies upon which you will build the rest of your career.
This education on the intersection of psychology and law will train you to recognize, label, and treat the biological, cognitive, social, and emotional facets of criminal behavior and motivation.
Degrees in this field include, but are not limited to:
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Forensic Psychology
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Psychology – Forensic Studies
- Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BS) in Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology
Your college’s degree program will include varying course requirements, such as:
- General education courses
- Core forensic psychology courses
- Elective courses
- Final project
A bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology will include the basic, core courses that you will need for graduate school, such as:
- Abnormal psychology
- Research methods
After this, you will be able to take courses specific to the forensic psychology specialty, such as:
- Forensic law
- Psychology and the law
- Brain and behavior
- Learning and memory
- Family conflict and family court
- Correctional psychology
- Alcoholism and psychology
Depending on the program available through the college of your choice, you may even be able to specialize in a specific area of forensic psychology, such as:
- Police psychology
- Corrections therapy
- Victim therapy
- Sexual abuse motivation and therapy
- Family psychology
Through your final internship and research project, you’ll be able to specialize your degree and produce professional-level research in the field, which will prepare you to enter graduate school.
Step 2. Earn Your Master’s or Doctorate Degree in Forensic Psychology
Vermont is unique in that it offers both a Psychologists-Master and a Psychologist-Doctorate license. This means that you are not required to complete your doctorate degree before you become a licensed psychologist.
Instead, you can choose whether you want to become a Psychologist-Master, Psychologist-Doctorate, or “upgrade” from a Master to a Doctorate.
Whether you’re entering a master’s or doctoral program, take care to make sure that your graduate program is:
- Approved by the Joint Accreditation Program of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- Accredited by the American Psychological Association
- Accredited by a full member of the Council of Applied Master’s Programs in Psychology
Earning a Master’s Degree to Become a Vermont Psychologist-Master
Master’s degrees in forensic psychology include, but are not limited to:
- Master of Arts or Science in Forensic Psychology (MA/MS)
- Master of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice – Forensics (MA/MS)
- Master of Arts or Science in Psychology – Forensics (MA/MS)
- Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology / Juris Doctor in Law (MA/JD)
- Master of Arts or Science in Counseling – Criminal Justice (MA/MS)
- Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
To enroll in a master’s degree program in forensic psychology, you must meet your university’s admissions requirements, which may include criteria such as this:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree (preferably in psychology or forensic psychology)
- Be in good academic standing
- Submit official GRE scores
- Submit 3 letters of recommendation
Once you’re enrolled, you will take:
- Core courses
- Elective courses
- Internship credits
- Complete a thesis.
The Vermont Board requires that you take specific core courses, including:
Statistics – 3 credit hours
Professional ethics – 3 credit hours
Assessment – 6 hours
- Psychological Testing/Assessment
- Intellectual (Cognitive) Assessment
- Personality Testing/Assessment
- Introduction to Psychometrics
- Projective Testing
- Neuropsychological Testing
- Diagnostic Interviewing
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
- Tests and Measurements
Intervention – 6 hours
- Cognitive Psychotherapy
- Family Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic Therapy
- Community Psychology
- Prevention of Psychopathology
Psychopathology – 6 hours
- Advanced Abnormal Psychology
- Child Psychopathology
- Adult Psychopathology
- DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) / ICD (International Classification of Diseases)
- Mood Disorders
- Substance Abuse
- Eating Disorders
- Mental Retardation
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
After these core courses, you can take courses specific to forensic psychology, such as:
- Psychology and the criminal justice system
- Theories of criminal behavior
- Basics of forensic psychology assessments
- Forensic psychology ethics
- Consultation and testimony
Finally, your internship and thesis will allow you to gain first-hand experience and conduct original research that will prepare you for your career as a licensed Psychologist-Master or for your doctoral program.
Earning a Doctorate Degree to Become a Vermont Psychologist-Doctor
Because many doctoral programs accept students with bachelor’s degrees in forensic psychology, you can enroll in a doctoral program as soon as you complete your bachelor’s degree.
Or, you can choose to become a licensed Psychologist-Master and wait until you’ve gained professional experience to enroll in a doctoral program.
Doctoral degrees in this field include, but are not limited to:
- PhD in Clinical Psychology (PHD)
- PsyD in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)
- PhD in Forensic Psychology (PhD)
- PsyD in Forensic Pyschology (PsyD)
- PhD in Clinical Psychology / Juris Doctor in Law (PHD/JD)
- Master of Legal Studies / PhD in Forensic Psychology (MLS/PhD)
Because doctoral programs are very selective, you will need to meet high admissions criteria to enroll. Although each program is different, admissions criteria for doctoral degree programs in forensic psychology generally include:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in forensic psychology (some programs prefer you hold a master’s degree, as well)
- Hold a 3.0 GPA or higher in previous academic work
- Have high GRE scores
- Have high Psychology Subject GRE scores
- Have previous research or professional experience
The Vermont Board requires that your doctoral degree program consist of courses similar to a master’s program, including:
- Assessment – 9 credit hours
- Intervention – 9 credit hours
- Psychopathology – 9 credit hours
- Statistics – 3 credit hours
- Professional Ethics – 3 credit hours
After you complete your core courses, you will finish the doctoral program by completing:
- Forensic psychology courses
- Internships or practicum (up to 2000 hours)
- Doctoral examinations
- Doctoral dissertation
- Doctoral dissertation defense
Once you’ve received your graduate degree in forensic psychology, you can begin the Vermont application process.
Step 3. Submit Application for Licensure as a Psychologist-Master or Psychologist-Doctorate in Vermont
Once you have completed your graduate degree, you will begin your Vermont application process.
To begin the application process, complete the following steps:
- Submit Application for Licensure as a Psychologist
- Indicate whether your are applying for Master or Doctorate
- Fill out enclosed supervision forms
- Submit official graduate transcripts
- Submit copy of your resume
- Three letters of recommendation
- Submit $175.00 application fee
Once you’ve completed the form, you can send the materials to the Board at their address:
Vermont Secretary of State
Office of Professional Regulation
89 Main Street, 3rd Floor
Montpelier VT 05620-3402
This process will need to be completed over the course of you completing your licensure requirements. This means that as you complete each subsequent requirement, you will send the applicable document to the Board to be added to your application file.
Once you submit these beginning materials concerning your application, you will be ready to complete the jurisprudence examination and complete your 4,000 hours of supervised experience.
Step 4. Pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination
Once your application is on file, you will be able to download and complete the Board’s open-book, multiple-choice jurisprudence exam.
- General Information on the Board
- Licensure Requirements
- Discipline Procedures
Once you finish the exam, send the completed exam into the Board to be added to your application file.
Step 5. Complete 4000 Documented Hours of Supervised Experience
Once you’ve completed the jurisprudence exam and your supervisors have been approved by the Board, you will be able to begin your supervised experience hours.
You will need to earn 4000 hours of supervised experience whether you are going for the Psychologist-Masters or Psychologist-Doctorate license.
For these hours, you should meet the Board’s requirements, including:
- Have at least two different supervisors who supervise you for a minimum of 500 hours each.
- Have at least 2000 hours completed after the completion of your highest degree on which your application for a license is based (2000 hours may be completed as part of your graduate school internship or practicum)
- Make sure you have one hour of supervision for every twenty hours of clinical practice
- Only complete a maximum of forty hours of supervised practice per week
- Make sure to complete two hours of supervision each week with one hour being individual supervision
- Keep chronological documentation of supervision
You will want to complete your supervised experience hours in a forensic setting, such as:
- Department of Corrections
- Victim Therapy Centers
- Rape Therapy Centers
- Federal, State or Local Prisons
- Local Jails
- State and Local Police Departments
APA-approved post-doctoral supervised experience programs include, but are not limited to:
- Veterans Affairs Medical Center – White River Junction
Once you complete your supervised experience hours, you will:
- Fill out the supervision forms enclosed in your license application
- Have them notarized
- Attach a copy of each supervisor’s license
- Forward them directly to the Vermont Board
When the Board receives documentation that you have completed your supervised experience hours, they will send you verification that you are approved to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
Step 6. Pass the National Written Examination
Passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is the final step before you receive your Vermont license.
You will need to apply to take this exam within 3 years of beginning your license application process, and once the Board approves you to take the exam, you will have 60 days to do so.
Once you’re ready, you can:
The exam itself is comprised of questions concerning various fields of psychology, such as:
- Research methods and statistics
- Treatment, intervention, prevention, and analysis
- Assessment and diagnosis
You will need to pass this exam with a score of 500 or more to be eligible for a Vermont license.
Once you complete this exam:
- Send your scores directly to the Vermont Board
- Finalize your application process by calling a Licensing Board Specialist, who will verify that all your documents have been received
- Wait for your full application to be reviewed
- Receive your Vermont psychologist license
For any other examination questions, consult the Vermont Board’s Examination Information page.
Step 7. Begin Your Career as a Forensic Psychologist in Vermont
Now that you’re a licensed psychologist in Vermont, you can begin you career as a forensic psychologist. Forensic psychology jobs include, but are not limited to:
- Forensic Clinician
- Expert Witness
- Criminal Psychologist
- Forensic Psychology Consultant
- Clinical Director
- Victim Advocate
- Juvenile Officer
Organizations and agencies throughout Vermont that may hire forensic psychologists include, but are not limited to:
- Vermont Department of Corrections – Swanton
- Northeast Correctional Facility – St. Johnsbury
- Newport Correctional Facility – Newport
- Windsor Correctional Facility – Windsor
- Vermont Offender Work Programs
- Department of Corrections – Restorative Justice Program
- Burlington Police Department – Burlington
- Vermont State Police – New Haven
- Vermont Probation and Parole Department – Rutland
Step 8. Complete 60 Hours of Continuing Education to Renew Your License
You will renew your Vermont psychology license every two years. In order to renew:
- Submit a renewal form
- Attach the $150 renewal fee
- Submit continuing education verification
For your continuing education, you will need to verify that you have completed at least 60 hours.
These hours can include large group and formal presentations, small group activities, individual activities outlined in chapter 8.1 of the Vermont psychology laws and rules, such as:
- Formal academic courses
- Interactive programs (workshops, presentations, etc.)
- Clinical case conceptualizations in small groups
- Independent studies
- Scholarly research
- Journal publication
Your continuing education hours should meet some of the Board’s requirements, including:
- At least 6 hours dedicated to psychology ethics
- A maximum of 30 hours devoted to any one topic
APA-accredited continuing education providers in Vermont include, but are not limited to:
- Brattleboro Retreat
- Maple Leaf Center
- Vermont Psychological Association