Outpatient Mental Health Services for Court Referred Youths

"This experience is teaching me how the psychological and legal fields interact, which are two things that I am most interested in. Through this experience, I’ve realized that I am very interested in juvenile law. The exposure I am receiving to the legal and psychological field has been very helpful in finalizing my decision about attending law school in the future. "


Supervising Faculty:

David J. Kolko, Ph.D.



Eunice Torres, MS
513 Bellefield Towers


Area of Research:  Forensic Psychology


Description of Research:

We are studying the effectiveness of outpatient mental health services for court referred youths placed on probation for sexual offenses and their families. Our study evaluating these diverse services is being conducted in collaboration with probation officers from the Special Services Unit of Allegheny County's Juvenile Court. Clinical and research assessments are administered before and after treatment. Primary analyses will evaluate treatment outcomes in several domains of program effectiveness: severity of behavior problems, level of functional impairment, environmental supports, and consumer satisfaction. In addition, efforts are being made to develop specialized treatment procedures or protocols for this population. Such research is especially important given the lack of scientific knowledge as to the effectiveness of outpatient mental health services for adjudicated youth presenting with inappropriate sexual behavior.


Duties of Students:

  • Attend weekly meetings with Dr. Kolko every Tuesday from 9:00 to 9:30am.
  • Attend Treatment Team Meetings every Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30am.
  • Review case files and follow all guidelines for documentation.
  • Provide assistance in developing and refining assessment measures.
  • Participate in training on how to conduct assessments with children and/or adolescents and their families after being adjudicated or placed in a Consent Decree for committing a sexual offense.
  • The student will read literature about children and adolescents with sexual behavior problems. This information will be incorporated to her/his end of internship research paper.
  • Participate in clinical assessments by administering research assessment materials to participating families.
  • Learn about the CBT treatment model used with children and adolescents with sexual behavior problems.
  • Possibility to participate in either a Monday or Wednesday treatment group (5 to 6:30pm).  Assist in the preparation of materials to be used during the treatment groups.  Groups are facilitated by SAFE,  the treatment clinicians or Probation Officers from the Special Services Unit.  All groups are held in Oakland.
  • Participate in weekly training/supervision with a member of the SAFE Program.
  • Present case summaries of the new referrals from the Juvenile Court to the treatment team.
  • Conduct a literature review of an assigned topic regarding this population. The student will present the literature review to the treatment team.
  • Prepare basic analyses and break-downs of clinical research data.
  • Data management and preparation of scientific materials.
  • Complete research paper based on their experience in the research setting during the second term.


Additional Requirements:

  • Completed Statistics and Research Methods in psychology.
  • Excellent computer skills.
  • Knowledge and skills in using Word and Excel.
  • Completed Abnormal psychology.
  • Excellent project management, planning, communication, documentation, organizational, analytical, and problem solving abilities required.
  • Students who are reliable and eager to learn.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Students need to be available for more than one term.

Preferred Requirements: 

  • Basic knowledge of SPSS statistical software package.
  • Basic knowledge of Publisher, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Paint Shop or Adobe Illustrator.
  • Website Design experience.
  • Ability to provide technical support skills (using graphics, creating tables, figures and other designs).


Terms offered: fall, spring and summer


Number of Students: 1 or 2