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Clinical Forensic Psychology

Image of a glass hallway with lights

Forensic psychology is an interdisciplinary field that merges psychology and law, and is often applied in other arenas such as public policy. From the principals of mental health assessment to legislative practices in juvenile justice, faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences are experts on a range of forensic psychology research topics. The department houses three faculty labs dedicated to clinical forensic psychology.

DeMatteo Lab

Research in the DeMatteo Lab is focused on the intersection of law and psychology, with a particular interest in research that has practice and policy implications. Among other areas, the lab is currently conducting research on psychopathic personality, offender diversion, and forensic mental health assessments. The lab includes a mix of undergraduate, MS, PhD and JD/PhD students.


David DeMatteo, JD, PhD, Associate Professor of Law and Psychology

Learn more about the Dematteo Lab

Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab

Naomi Goldstein's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab seeks to improve juvenile justice policy and practice to produce better outcomes for youth and communities. For nearly 20 years, this interdisciplinary lab has worked to promote best practices in the juvenile justice system by more closely aligning juvenile justice policies and procedures with adolescents' developmental capacities.

To accomplish this goal, the lab develops, implements and evaluates juvenile justice programming that is informed by research findings on adolescent development and best practices. The lab also drafts legal briefs and policy recommendations to stimulate scientifically based legislative reform to protect the rights and well-being of youth involved with the justice system while also enhancing community safety.

All of the lab's work is conducted in collaboration with community partners — with courts and probation departments, police departments, school districts, human services agencies, treatment providers, offices of the district attorney and public defender, state agencies and legal advocacy organizations. The reach of the lab's work spans from local to global, with ongoing research and reform work performed at local, state, national and international levels.

Current Forensic Psychology Research Projects

Some current forensic psychology research projects in the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab include:

  • Evaluating the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program
  • Examining juveniles' Miranda rights comprehension and waiver decisions
  • Investigating juveniles’ competence to stand trial in Argentina
  • Developing and evaluating the Juvenile Justice Anger Management Treatment for Girls


Naomi Goldstein, PhD, Professor of Psychology

Visit the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab Website

Heilbrun Lab

The Heilbrun Lab focuses on forensic mental health assessment, violence risk assessment, risk management, interventions to reduce risk and community-based alternatives to prosecution. His lab is currently working on research projects in the areas of risk-needs assessment of offenders, diversion from prosecution for individuals with severe mental illness and substance abuse, and developing a risk-reducing reentry protocol for individuals returning to the community from incarceration.

Current Forensic Psychology Research Projects

Some current and recent forensic psychology topics in the Heilbrun Lab include:

  • Reentry following incarceration
  • Forensic assessment of individuals regarding crime
  • Evaluations of standard of practice or workplace disability


Kirk Heilbrun, PhD, Professor of Psychology

Victoria Pietruszka, Coordinator

Learn more about the Heilbrun Lab