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Graduate School of Professional Psychology
Denver FIRST

Service Opportunities

Denver FIRST offers a wealth of practical expertise and experience to address service requests across Colorado and beyond. All of our faculty members are licensed psychologists with many years of experience in forensic assessment, therapy, and other interventions. Student practitioners are well-trained and often work closely with faculty supervisors to provide specialized services at lower cost. Denver FIRST embraces and implements evidence-based interventions and promising practices, and we pilot innovative practices that represent the cutting edge of forensic mental health service.  However, we realize that acceptable practice cannot be accomplished by providing generic treatment or assessment pulled straight from a manual; instead, our practitioners utilize clinical skills and the “art behind the science” to truly provide exceptional service. In short, Denver FIRST offers high-quality, low-cost forensic mental health services across the continuum of forensic mental health arenas.

The field of forensic mental health is both broad and nuanced, and as such service opportunities and requests vary considerably. Therefore, the following list of service opportunities represents common areas for assistance, rather than an exhaustive list. If you need direct service regarding a forensic mental health issue, please contact us even if the specific issue is not listed below:

Outpatient Competency Restoration

Denver FIRST offers competency-restoration services for individuals who are found incompetent to proceed in Colorado and subsequently released to the community for competency restoration. Our services include individual and group sessions.  All interventions are provided by psychology doctoral students in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Each provider has extensive training and field experience in forensic mental health, and licensed forensic psychologists provide supervision for all providers and all cases.

Restoration is based on a nationally-recognized competency restoration program that provides standardized but individualized interventions. Our restoration program also provides regular competency screening assessments to gauge restoration progress. These interventions are similar to those found in other successful hospital- and community-based restoration programs around the country. The director of the program, Dr. Neil Gowensmith, has led the development of several competency restoration programs around the country and is dedicated to making the Denver FIRST program a model program for outpatient competency restoration.

Participants in outpatient competency restoration programs typically include persons with developmental delays, head or traumatic brain injuries, or serious mental illness that do not necessitate inpatient hospitalization.  By law, each person must be court-ordered to outpatient competency restoration; we are not an inpatient provider and cannot provide services to persons ordered to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

What we do:

  • provide low-cost, high-quality outpatient restoration services in a timely fashion
  • base our services in evidence-based interventions and assessments
  • utilize well-trained, experienced students to provide direct services
  • use licensed forensic faculty to supervise individual providers and cases
  • provide second opinion competency to proceed evaluations as requested

What we cannot do:

  • provide services to persons committed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo
  • offer psychiatric services; if clinically indicated, we can make referrals to several low-cost psychiatric providers with whom we currently work
  • guarantee that a person will be restored to competency
  • force participants to attend our program; although persons are court-ordered for treatment, we cannot force or require them to attend
  • provide transportation to the clinic
  • provide competency to proceed evaluations on our restoration clients (unless we are retained as an independent source for second opinions, in which case the evaluation will be conducted by an independent provider within Denver FIRST)
Forensic Assessment and Evaluation

We provide excellent forensic evaluation and assessment across a wide variety of psycholegal referral questions and circumstances. Common evaluations include violence risk, mitigation, competency to stand trial, capacity to waive Miranda or other legal rights, and juvenile waivers.

We also provide traditional psychological assessment for use in a forensic context. This includes assessments of intellectual and cognitive capacities, neuropsychological functioning, personality traits, and others.

Finally, Denver FIRST conducts forensic assessments in settings beyond the criminal court. We can conduct or consult on many types of civil forensic evaluations, such as evaluations for social security disability, discrimination, and others.

We use evidence-based and state of the art testing materials and assessment protocols. When appropriate, students will assist with testing administration and scoring under the supervision of licensed Denver FIRST faculty. Students have completed standard and advanced graduate courses in testing, measurement, and specific assessment areas. All students operate under the license and close supervision of faculty members, each of whom are licensed forensic psychologists.

Animal Cruelty and Animal Abuse Evaluations

Denver FIRST, in partnership with local probation departments, Colorado LINKS, and the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, provides comprehensive risk evaluations for individuals facing charges involving animal cruelty and abuse. We utilize emerging practices along with standardized violence risk assessment protocols in conducting these specialized evaluations.

Immigration-related Evaluations and Interventions

Denver has been selected as a primary setting for federal immigration relocation. As such, cases involving refugees, asylum, and related immigration issues are prevalent in Denver. Denver FIRST has special expertise in dealing with these types of evaluations and interventions. We also partner with GSPP’s Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic in providing specialized trauma recovery services as appropriate.

Case management and assessment of forensic and at-risk individuals

Through a grant from the City and County of Denver, Denver FIRST has partnered with the Mental Health Center of Denver to provide case management to forensically-encumbered and at-risk individuals. These individuals are often chronically homeless, mentally ill, and involved with the police and low-level  criminal courts. Denver FIRST students provide case management services in conjunction with established case management teams, and Denver FIRST faculty supervise their work carefully. Through a similar grant from the City and County of Denver, Denver FIRST also provides risk and strength-based assessment to incarcerated individuals who have been repeatedly arrested and in need of intensive psychosocial services.

Neuropsychological screening and assessment

Through a combination of federal and state grant opportunities, and in partnership with statewide correctional agencies as well as the Colorado Brain Injury Program, Denver FIRST practitioners provide state of the art screens and subsequent in-depth assessments to incarcerated persons with potential traumatic brain injuries. This innovative project provides free assessments to at-risk individuals in more than ten test sites across Colorado. In addition to these projects, Denver FIRST has special expertise in neuropsychological assessment and interventions across a variety of settings.

We offer low-cost, high-quality outpatient forensic mental health services in a pleasant and professional atmosphere.  Our offices are located on the beautiful University of Denver campus. We are also available to conduct evaluations off-site such as regional correctional institutions or similar facilities. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about our forensic services at 303-871-7910 or [email protected]. Thank you!