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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology

Psychology Matters

Teaching Matters

hdBy Jill Holm-Denoma, PhD
Associate Clinical Professor



Each year, I have the pleasure of teaching the Field Experiences course sequence to senior psychology majors. It is a 9 month-long experience that integrates classroom-based learning with hands-on experience at a local organization. Every week, I meet with students on campus and we explore topics like how to provide evidence-based therapies, how to conduct suicide risk assessments, and how to identify barriers to obtaining mental health services. At their internship sites, students observe a wide variety of clinically relevant activities, and are even able to do things such as co-facilitate therapy groups, answer calls at crisis hotlines, and lead workshops.

Field Experiences students partner with many types of organizations in the Denver metro area, including Children's Hospital Colorado, Gateway Domestic Violence Services, Firefly Autism, the Second Chance Center the Center for Trauma and Recovery, Project PAVE, and Wolff Child Psychology. Each student gets an in-depth experience at the organization with which they work, but they also vicariously learn about many organizations by hearing their classmates' experiences during our weekly on-campus meetings.

Past students have often found that their time in Field Experiences significantly impacts their plans for graduate school and beyond. In addition, internships have often led to jobs after graduation. Students often keep in touch with me as their futures unfold, and frequently mention the many ways that this capstone experience at DU has positively impacted their development as young professionals.

One recent Field Experiences graduate, Arielle Rotor, said, "The Field Experiences Program taught me so many real life skills, like how to create a resume that best voices who you are, how to interview and present yourself in the finest manner possible, and other important skills needed to transition into a more professional version of yourself." Another recent student, Maggie Saltiel, shared, "Field Experiences prepared me for my postgraduate career in so many ways!" adding that, "it helped me develop a good understanding of different career and graduate school options, and provided hands-on experiences that I needed to take the things I had been learning about in a classroom setting and apply them in the real world." Students invariably leave the course sequence with a deeper understanding of the mental health care system and having been deeply impacted by the clients with whom they have worked.