Chris King, JD, PhD
Dr. King is an assistant professor of psychology at Montclair State University, where he teaches and conducts research primarily related to adult and juvenile clinical-forensic psychology, correctional psychology, police and public safety psychology, and mental health law.
He received his JD and PhD in clinical psychology with a forensic concentration from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although a non-resident active lawyer in Pennsylvania, Dr. King does not currently practice law. Instead, he utilizes his legal training for conducting legal research relevant to the intersection of applied psychology and law.
Besides research, Dr. King also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in forensic mental health assessment, forensic and correctional treatment, and law and psychology. In addition, he currently engages in clinical work as a three-year supervised permit holder in the areas of therapeutic assessment, cognitive behavior therapy for adolescents and adults with complex psychological problems, and police and public safety psychological screening.
Dr. King's lab is staffed by his PhD mentees, master's students in clinical psychology, and undergraduate students.
The RA team as of fall 2018 consists of
- Jill Del Pozzo
- Lauren Grove
- Alma Munoz-Enriquez
- Brianna Doerflein
Former MA students (still working in lab):
Former BA students (still working in lab):
- Bethany Trilone
- Paola Peralta
Interested MSU Students
Research assistants (RAs) receive various assignments within the lab, including the following:
- extracting information from legal databases and the available research literature
- collecting data from participants
- scoring research measures
- entering paper records into electronic data files
- conducting data analyses, if able
- developing conference presentation submissions
- delivering conference presentations
- co-authoring papers with Dr. King
Master's students and undergraduate students who are interested in working as RAs within the lab must be able to devote 10 hours to lab work per week (including on site as needed). This includes attending an approximately hour-long weekly morning lab meeting.
Initial RA appointments are for one semester, but RAs who perform adequately can continue to work in the lab for as long as approved by Dr. King. Availability, dependability, and hard work in the lab is the route to a strong letter of recommendation from Dr. King.
Students who are interested in obtaining admission to a master's or doctoral program relevant to clinical-forensic psychology are encouraged to get as close to two years of research experience in the lab as possible. This is in addition to
- studying long and hard to obtain a high GPA
- studying long and hard to score well on the GRE
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to determine graduate programs that would make sense to apply to
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to develop a strong personal statement and CV
- working with Dr. King well ahead of time to develop a personal statement that is tailored to each graduate program to which you are applying
- volunteering in a second lab to obtain a letter of recommendation from an additional faculty member who does research
- volunteering in a relevant human services setting to round out your experience and obtain a letter of recommendation from a human services provider
It is no doubt a lot of work. And the road to become a licensed psychologist (which requires earning a PhD or PsyD degree in clinical, counseling, or school psychology, among other things) who practices forensic psychology (which ideally involves specialty training in or soon after graduate school) is especially long and competitive. But the work is highly interesting, meaningful, and consequential, and it can also be fairly lucrative.
Some of these comments apply as well to related but distinct future careers, with their own graduate school training routes, including correctional psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker, certified alcohol and drug counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, specialty probation or parole officer, and lawyer. I advise students in my lab about these alternative educational and career options, which may be a better fit for some of them.
Note: My lab is likely not a very good fit for students interested in forensic psychiatry, as psychiatry has a very different training route than applied psychology and the other human services. The same may also be true for students primarily interested in child advocacy, criminology, and law enforcement.
Applying to Work in the Lab
Students who are interested in obtaining an RA position are encouraged to apply in the summer prior to the fall term in which they hope to begin work in the lab. Although interested students may also apply ahead of the spring term, there may not be any RA openings in the spring term. Preference is given to master's clinical psychology students and undergraduate psychology students over all other MSU students.
- why you are applying for an RA position in Dr. King's lab, specifically
- any relevant prior experiences you may have
- what your graduate school and career objectives are
- what you hope to get out of the experience
Prospective PhD Applicants
Dr. King typically mentors a new clinical psychology PhD student each year.
Letters of Recommendation
I typically only write letters of recommendation for students whom I've supervised in research or clinical practice, and who wish to go on to graduate study in human services (typically psychology but sometimes also social work or other disciplines that provide clinical services), law, or criminal justice. Part of this process involves personalized advising and feedback about your application plan and materials.
As I am typically unable to provide strong letters of recommendation for students whom I've only had in class, I tend to decline such requests or strongly caution students about relying on such a letter.
If you are an RA and wish to request letters of recommendation from me, you must generally do so 3 months before they are due (so in September for December application due dates, October for January due dates, December for March due dates, and so on).
Please provide me with drafts of all of the following at the same time as your request:
- Personal essay
- Unofficial transcript
- Document containing bullet-points of things I might highlight about you in your letter of recommendation
- Document containing a listing of programs to which you are applying (with web links), and, if applicable, the faculty with whom you are hoping to work (with web links)