Nonprofit of the Month: Denver Family Institute

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At the mention of therapy, the mind is immediately called to an image of a patient lying on a sofa, candidly confessing every conversation they have had in the past twenty years while a therapist takes notes on a yellow legal pad. This canonized image just barely skims the surface as to what a therapist does and the various benefits of therapy.  In recent times, The Huffington Post published an article title 4 Ways Everyone Can Benefit From Therapy , highlighting the great work that can be achieved. As society has made a shift to allow for a stronger focus on mental health and wellbeing, a stronger focus has also been placed on the impact and effectiveness of therapy.  But when it comes to a good therapist, where do they come from?

Founded in 1982, the Denver Family Institute (DFI) seeks to cultivate and continue the careers of young therapists.  For their contributions, professionally and personally in regards to therapy, QuickBooks Made Easy is proud to announce them as the Non-Profit of the Month.

The Work: Students into Therapists

After a prospective therapist graduates with a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health or Social Work, they are required to complete a certain number of training hours before they are declared Licensed Therapists.  This is where the Denver Family Institute steps in.

For over thirty years, the Denver Family Institute has played a strong role in the growth and development of practicing therapists. Their two year training program, accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, allows students to get the training they need while also providing them with an infrastructure for their future development.

Jamie Leach is one of the many successful stories of DFI.  She joined the organization is 2011 as an intern and went through the postgraduate training program.  A licensed therapist in her own right with a Master’s degree in Mental Clinical Health, she is able to maintain her own practice through the organization.  She simultaneously serves as the organization’s Director of Student Services.

She attributes her level of success within the organization to their strong alumni association.  The Alumni board meets once a month to create events.  The events include regular Educational Salons where other alumnae host social gatherings with professional guest speakers, designed to pique the professional interest of those in attendance.  They also organize a quarterly Happy Hour and two large annual events.

Although the purpose of the alumni association is to keep the alums together in order to allow a continuation of development, the real developing happens in the training program.  “Our program,” said Leach, “is a strength based program.  Therapists get immediate feedback on the work they’re doing.”  Therapists in training are introduced to experiential teaching styles that involve exposure to role plays and demonstrations of live sessions, all while learning the true self of the therapist.

“The goal is to cultivate each therapist to know not only about the various therapy models, but to also know who they are,” said Leach.  “They can practice these models not because they are part of the structure, but because they understand how the models exist in the therapeutic process and how they fit within the context of the individual.”

The Other Work: Giving Back to Patients

“We do two things at DFI,” said Leach.  “The first and primary thing is the post graduate training program for family and marriage counseling.  The second is for the student therapists to offer reduced fees for those who need it.”

While the therapy training is a good place to start, it would mean nothing without patients to practice with.  Just as the training aims to be all encompassing, this approach is extended to patients as well.  The Denver Family Institute provides services for all types of populations, including the groups where people don’t qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford a private therapist.

Since family is in their namesake, the DFI provides treatment that is friendly and accessible to families that need it.  Entire families can come in and seek treatment to get the help that they need.  If an individual in the family wants private work, it is provided.  If a married couple comes in seeking couples counseling, they are given it.

The student therapists are able to offer reduced fees that are income based to the patients without a limit on the number of sessions.  This approach helps to reduce the barriers and accessibility for the patients that need the treatment most, while also providing the training time the therapists need.

The Bigger Picture

There are two words that can best be used to summarize the work of the Denver Family Institute: mutually beneficial.  Their rigorous and holistic training cultivates future therapists while attending to the current needs of clients needing therapy who otherwise couldn’t afford it.  The therapists give back to the organization while also giving their time to patients in need.  Patients provide the necessary component for the organization and its students to thrive in their field.  The relationships created through the organization exist through a continuum of growth. In short, everybody wins!

To learn more about the work being done at the Denver Family Institute or for information on how to donate, please visit their website.

*Gregg S. Bossen has spent most of his career traveling around the country working with nonprofits.  From his early days auditing organizations to teaching seminars and presenting at national conferences, his career has been spent surrounded by the successes and inspirations of countless non-profits.  His work helping these organizations is what led him to start his Nonprofit of the Month initiative. 

Through Gregg’s company, QuickBooks Made Easy, the Nonprofit of the Month initiative seeks to highlight the work that is being done across the country by exceptional non-profit organizations.  Starting in July, QuickBooks Made Easy will choose one nonprofit to highlight for their exemplary work in their community.  Winners are chosen from nonprofits that attend live QuickBooks Made Easy seminars after they submit a review and opt to enter the contest.  QuickBooks Made Easy looks for nonprofits that have made specific and measurable impact in their communities. 


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