Neil Gowensmith

Neil Gowensmith

Associate Professor

  • Faculty

What I do

Assistant Professor, Masters of Forensic Psychology
Graduate School of Professional Psychology

Professional Biography

After completing my postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, I worked as a staff psychologist at New Jersey State Prison. I then took a job in community forensic mental health and later became the Chief of Forensic Mental Health for the State of Hawaii. As Chief, I focused on implementing community forensic services and refining court-ordered forensic evaluations across the state. I began my faculty appointment at DU in 2011 while also working half-time as a competency evaluator for the State of Colorado's Office of Behavioral Health. As a full-time faculty, I created the University of Denver's Forensic Institute for Research, Service, and Training (Denver FIRST), our program's postdoctoral fellowship in forensic psychology, and the state's first outpatient competency restoration program. I also conduct forensic evaluations and consult on public forensic mental health systems across the country, specializing in competency to stand trial systems and services.


  • Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, Colorado State University, 1999
  • BA, Psychology , The University of Texas at Austin, 1992

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Licensed Psychologist

Media Sources


My research focuses on bias in forensic evaluation, quality and reliability of forensic evaluation, and improvements to the public forensic mental health system.

Key Projects

  • Denver First Competency Restoration Project
  • Colorado Tramatic Brain Injury State Implementation Partnership Grant Program
  • PHASE Day Reporting Grant
  • Colorado Coalition for the Homeless MHCD
  • Prevention of Violence and Trauma of Women and Girls

Featured Publications

Gowensmith, W. N., Frost, L. E., Speelman, D., & Therson, D. (2016). Lookin' for beds in all the wrong places: Outpatient competency restoration. Journal of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law.
Gowensmith, W. N., Murrie, D. M., & Boccaccini, M. T. (2016). Field reliabilty influences field validity: Risk assessments of individuals found NGRI. Psychological Assessment.
Gowensmith, W. N., Peters, A., Lex, I. a., Heng, A., Robinson, K., & Huston, B. (2016). New frontiers for conditional release: Applying lessons learned from other offenders with mental illness. Behavioral Sciences & the Law.
McCallum, K., Nassab, N., & Gowensmith, W. N. (2014). The impact of ethnicity on competency to stand trial evaluations. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.
Gowensmith, W. N., & Bloom, L. J. (1997). The effects of heavy metal music on anger and arousal. The Journal of Music Therapy, 34, 33-45.


Gowensmith, W. N., & Gowensmith, D. (2018). What does race mean to me?. Cape Town, South Africa.


Alexander, A. A., Musgrove, L., & Gowensmith, W. N. (2019). Competent competency restoration: Program evaluation of outpatient restoration. American Psychology-Law Society Annual Conference. Portland, OR.
Druhn, N., Gowensmith, W. N., Patin, H., & Murrie, D. (2018). A survey of forensic psychology postdoctoral programs. APLS 2018. Memphis, TN.
Gowensmith, W. N. (2017). Challenges and solutions in forensic psychology. Pan-African Psychology Union Congress . Durban, South Africa.
Gowensmith, W. N. (2017). Decision-making in post-insanity acquittal conditional release evaluations. International Association of Law and Mental Health. Prague.
Meyer, L. J., Haley, P., Gowensmith, W. N., Martinez, R., Thomas, G., Patin, H., & Schultz, P. (2018). Forensic evaluators' perspectives on mandated video recording. American Psychology-Law Society Annual Conference. Memphis, TN.
Meyer, L. J., Gowensmith, W. N., Smith, K., & Yeager, K. (2018). Monitoring one's personal bias in forensic evaluation: a how-to guide. American Psychology-Law Society Annual Conference. Memphis, TN.
Potts, H., Gowensmith, W. N., Martinez, R., Gray, T., Meyer, L. J., Patin, H., & Schultz, P. (2018). Mandated video recording of legal sanity evaluations. APLS 2018. Memphis, TN.
Gowensmith, W. N., Candilis, P., Kruh, I., & Graf, A. (2018). Outpatient competency restoration programs: Updates on the hows, wheres, and whos. American Psychology-Law Society Annual Conference. Memphis, TN.
Winn, C., Gowensmith, W. N., Mandeville, S., Ray, K., Jay, A., & Meyer, L. J. (2018). Validation of risk-need-responsivity assessment measures. APLS 2018. Memphis, TN.


  • Service Learning Faculty of the Year, CCESL