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Heather C. Peterson, MA Forensic Psychology

Licensed Addiction Counselor-ACD.334 


  • M.A. Forensic Psychology, June 2007 University of Denver-Graduate School of Professional Psychology, Denver, CO    
  • B.A. Psychology & Criminology, May 2003 University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

Teaching Experience

  • Adjunct Instructor: The University of Northern Iowa, Fall 2007- Fall 2021
    • Psychology and Law
    • Introduction to Psychology
    • Psychology, Law and Philanthropy
    • Drugs and Individual Behavior 

As a sophomore social work major at the University of Northern Iowa, I knew I wanted a career working with and helping people in some capacity. I had a particular interest in juvenile delinquency and other facets of the criminal justice system, so when I learned of a course titled Psychology and Law I was very excited to enroll. Throughout the duration of that course I was continually fascinated with the countless connections that are made between the legal system and numerous psychological principles. I was particularly interested in the formation of false memories of child abuse, the insanity defense and criminal responsibility, psychopathology, the effects of imprisonment, and criminal profiling; just to name a few. 

After becoming so enthralled, I chose to double major in Psychology and Criminology, and at the same time I also joined Dr. Kim MacLin’s Psychology and Law Research Lab. As a research assistant I had the opportunity to conduct research on racial bias in line-up and photospread construction, the effects of defendant demeanor on assumptions of guilt or innocence, and the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. I was also able to conduct my own research study on criminal stereotypes, which allowed me to investigate the presumptions people have regarding particular crimes, based on physical appearance and the labels they might use to describe that type of criminal. For example, is a child molester a creepy old man with thick glasses and greasy hair lurking around a school yard in a van?  

Due to my continued interest in the many connections between psychology and law, I decided a graduate degree in forensic psychology would suit me best. As I prepared for my advanced degree I served as a teaching assistant for both Research Methods and Introduction to Psychology. I also secured internships with the Black Hawk County Attorney’s Office and worked at a shelter that served female victims of domestic violence. 

During graduate school I also completed two internships; one with Urban Peak-Denver, working with homeless and runaway youth between 14 and 24 years of age, providing shelter services, education, job counseling, and case management, while encouraging them to permanently exit the streets. The other was with the Denver Juvenile Probation Department, where I conducted drug and alcohol assessments for substance abusing youth, while also holding them accountable to the community and justice system. 

In addition to those professional experiences, I also volunteered with a restorative justice initiative sponsored by the Colorado Department of Corrections Sex Offender Treatment and Monitoring Program, providing social and psychological support to sex offenders reintegrating from prison back into the community. 

In June of 2007, I graduated from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology, with my Master’s Degree in forensic psychology. It was at this point when I was fortunate enough to be invited back to the University of Northern Iowa to serve as an adjunct instructor teaching Psychology and Law; the very course that inspired me to specialize in the field.  

In addition to Psychology and Law, I have also taught courses in Drugs and Individual Behavior, Introduction to Psychology, and a graduate level course in Psychology, Law, and Philanthropy, via the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). Over time, I transitioned these courses to an online capacity and have since moved back to the beautiful mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado. Isn’t Distance Education great?! 

While teaching online, I was also working as a Substance Abuse Counselor, providing voluntary and court mandated substance abuse assessments, education, and individual and group therapy for those involved in the Gunnison County Adolescent Drug Court program, Gunnison County Jail system, DUI offenders, and Western State Colorado University students. 

I have also pursued additional trainings, proper supervision, and passed the national exam to become a Licensed Addiction Counselor. As such, I opened my own private practice, Teocalli Treatment Options, LLC, and obtained a designation from Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health, as a Licensed Treatment Agency, where I provide mandated DUI Education and Therapy, as well as general behavioral health treatment.  

I am always willing to discuss my academic and professional work experiences, so please feel free to ask any questions you may have! 

PSYCH 1001 (400:001). Introduction to Psychology — 3 hrs.Survey of basic principles in psychology including cognitive, emotional, social, developmental, and biological processes, and the scientific research methods used to learn about these processes. Course requires participation in psychological research; or an alternative acceptable to both students and the department which provides a similar educational experience. (Guided Independent Study)

PSYCH 2302 (400:070). Psychology and Law — 3 hrs.Study of psychological theory and empirical research as it relates to the law. Topics include witness memory, suspect identification, lineup procedures, false confessions, lie detection, juror cognition, and jury decision making. Prerequisite(s): PSYCH 1001 (400:001). (Fall/Spring and Guided Independent Study)

PSYCH 3102/5102 (400:170g). Drugs and Individual Behavior — 3 hrs.Survey of the effects/side-effects of all categories of psychoactive drugs on brain, body, and behavior. Covers patterns of use and/or abuse of prescription, non-prescription and street drugs as well as an introduction to drug abuse treatment. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Currently not teaching this course)

PSYCH 6005 (400:254). Psychology, Law and Philanthropy — 2 hrs.Students will learn about the psychology underlying giving including topics such as altruism and persuasion. Legal and ethical issues will be covered as they relate to philanthropy, including regulation/governance, tax law, and standards for professional conduct. Prerequisite(s): admission into the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development graduate program. (Fall 2013)

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