Expert psychology in the workplace: what is it and what is it for

In the many fields of forensic psychology, the work is one of the most flourishing of recent years.

In this article we will explore the main casuistry that this branch of legal psychology finds in the world of organizations.

    Expert psychology in the workplace: characteristics and functions

    Psychology is more and more present in our lives, and being work one of the main activities of human beings, this field was not going to be an exception. This is why workplace forensic psychology is becoming increasingly important, and it is that the work of an expert psychologist is essential to help assess a range of pathologies and other environmental issues. organizational.

    Outraged, occupational health is a topical concern and legislation in this area is enriched and expanded.. This means that today a series of psychological pathologies are considered, associated with professional activity, which sometimes require an expert report to prove their existence and take the appropriate legal measures to put an end to the situation.

    But in reality, the work of the forensic occupational psychologist can be much broader, because this discipline addresses very different issues. They can be grouped into four different types.

    1. Ability to be hired

    According to legal regulations, in order to sign an employment contract, the person must be in full psychological capacity to act, therefore there may be cases where in the existence of certain psychopathologies, andThe forensic psychologist must write an expert report allowing him to discern whether or not the person is qualified to carry out the work activity..

    2. Ability to work

    Another area in which the occupational psychologist can act is that which has to do with fitness for work, assuming that a case has been taken to the courts when there is a disagreement on whether a worker is able to perform a certain job, having a psychological pathology that allegedly limits it or preventing them from performing certain essential tasks for this position.

    3. Handicap and handicap

    Of course, the role of the expert in occupational psychology is essential to assess certain cases of incapacity or handicap whose origin comes from psychopathology.

    In this case, the expert must be assessed, first, if this psychopathology really exists, and second, if it really prevents the normal performance of their tasks in this workplace or any other. This report will be crucial for the subsequent determination of the degree of incapacity granted, or invalidity, if the report concludes that in fact the worker is prevented from doing so.

    As with physical illnesses, these assessments are essential for a professional, in this case the expert psychologist, to ensure that a simulation is not given, as this is a relatively common problem in the hospital. framework of compensation and subsidies, and therefore requires the maximum guarantees to avoid fraud.

    But there are also the opposite cases, in which the affected person, despite a pathology that prevents him from performing his tasks, tries to disguise himself in order to return home as quickly as possible. Likewise, these cases must be identified, above all to ensure their health.

    4. Occupational psychopathology

    Finally, another important task of the forensic psychologist within the company would be to assess whether a psychopathology was the result of an accident at work, And must therefore be considered as such for legal purposes (benefits, conditions, etc.).

      Psychological risk factors at work

      The work context is one of the environments in which human beings spend more time on a daily basis, and therefore it is essential to control all psychosocial risk factors that can be generated in the workplaceOtherwise, employees could suffer consequences on their state of health, which can range from the first symptoms of stress to chronic conditions affecting the muscles, the heart, the respiratory tract, digestive system, dermatology, within the physical symptoms., But of course. also on a psychological level. In fact, a combination of physical and psychological symptoms usually occurs.

      These factors would therefore be considered as occupational risks, and the organization should ensure that they are eliminated or reduced as far as possible so that workers do not suffer the consequences. or do it minimally. Here is an important aspect, and it is essential to take into account the characteristics of the person, because the psychosocial factors are given by the interaction between the individual and the environment.

      For example, a task that a certain person performs without any problem, such as calling customers to sell a product, may be an unattainable challenge for another different person, who will suffer each time from great anxiety to pick up the phone to call.

      To assess all these risks both quantitative methods are used, whether questionnaires and others, easy and economical to carry out, as well as qualitativeThis would include more in-depth interviews, which give us a lot more information but are also more costly in terms of resources.

      Psychopathology of work

      We will now explore some of the psychopathological issues that can occur most often in the workplace, due to the psychosocial risk factors seen above.

      1. Stress at work

      Stress at work is the most common pathology in this context. It involves a number of both physiological and emotional symptoms. Its appearance is caused by the perception of a discrepancy between the physical and psychological resources possessed by the person and the impositions of his workplace. This imbalance can come from environmental conditions (noise, light, etc.), characteristics of the tasks to be performed (being repetitive, complex, etc.), unclear roles, problematic interpersonal relationships, etc.

      The most frequent causes are generally an excessive workload, problems in relations with superiors or colleagues or a perception of a lack of control over the activity to be carried out. But, as we said, all these problems largely depend on the characteristics of the person himselfSince what triggers stress at work for one does not work for others, it is of course everyone’s business.

      Since stress at work can come from a wide variety of causes, the form of assessment should be broad, so as not to miss any of the factors that may affect the employee. Also, as we have seen, they must always be studied in relation to the subject, because the perception will always be subjective and what matters is what the individual feels, because that is what affects him. Actually.

      Finally, it is important to note that stress becomes pathological when it is operated over time or when its intensity is too high, because a peak in stress at a given moment would not constitute psychopathology. In fact, many studies confirm that moderate stress levels make people more efficient in their performance.

      2. Burn syndrome

      Burnout or burnout syndrome is a concept that has become popular in recent times.. It would occur when the stressful situation at work persists for so long that its effects have become chronic. A person suffering from burnout has a very negative outlook on their work and those who are there. You will experience mental exhaustion and you will feel depersonalized and ineffective.

      Likewise, to assess this disorder, it is necessary to consider absolutely all the variables that may be affected, but above all the perception that the person has of himself, because this is the key that will tell us where it comes from. problem. There are specific scales for assess burnout, such as MBI.

      3. Psychological harassment

      Another phenomenon that has been talked about a lot in recent years is bullying, or psychological harassment at work, occupying a multitude of studies within expert psychology in the field. labor.

      It is very important not to confuse possible interpersonal difficulties, with superiors or peers, with the behavior that bullying actually involves, and which consists of ongoing psychological abuse of the individual. The causes of this harassment may be related to work factors themselves, but this need not necessarily be the case.

      To be able to speak of moral harassment, psychological harassment must be prolonged in time, it cannot be a single event which occurred in an isolated way. (Which would be an interpersonal conflict). These behaviors are exercised from a position of power which must not correspond to the hierarchy which occupies the company, the harassment being able to come from a partner of the same category and even from a subordinate.

      The ways in which a person can be a victim of psychological harassment at work are grouped into these five categories:

      • Conduct against reputation.
      • Drive against performance of work.
      • Manipulation of information.
      • Unequal treatment.
      • Degradation in the organization chart.

      It is essential to identify cases of psychological harassment as early as possible and to put an end to themAs their repercussions go far beyond work, and can trigger physical, psychological and even problems in their social and family relationships. In the most extreme cases, it can lead to suicide, so it is a very serious problem that must be brought under control so that it never happens and, if necessary, that it is resolved as quickly as possible.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Clemente, M. (2016). Manual of legal psychology of work. Madrid. Delta University publications.
      • Trijueque, DG, Acevedo, RT, Marina, SD (2017). Forensic Psychology in the Workplace: A Theoretical Approach. Praxis.
      • Trijueque, DG (2007). Psychological harassment in the workplace: an approach from forensic psychology. Legal and forensic clinical psychopathology.

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