Jennifer Pruyn Heckman, PhD, MACP
Jennifer Heckman has a long history of working in the areas of education and mental health, with particular emphases on children, families, and family-systems. Upon completing her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado in 1977, Dr. Heckman returned to her home in Hawaii to work with the local Easter Seal Society’s Residential Services program. This program, developed to serve multiply handicapped children who were unable to live in their parents’ home, included group and foster “teaching home” placements. While with Residential Services, Dr. Heckman worked initially as a group home counselor and then became responsible for providing psychosocial and educational support for the foster teaching home parents; during her last year and a half with Residential Services, Dr. Heckman served as the Director for the program.
Desiring to further her work with children and families, in 1980, Dr. Heckman returned to the mainland to pursue graduate work in Education at Stanford University. She subsequently completed her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford in 1981 and 1987, respectively. While at Stanford, Dr. Heckman worked as a research assistant and treatment group leader for a study on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral coping strategies for children, ages 9-12, with recently divorced parents.
Dr. Heckman also worked on studies of school effectiveness and at-risk adolescents and developed a violence prevention curriculum for use with at-risk families and management training materials for school administrators. Immediately following the completion of her Doctoral dissertation, Dr. Heckman served as a Senior Research Associate for the Department of Psychiatry in Stanford University’s Medical School. Following her work with the medical school, Dr. Heckman worked with a non-profit research and technical assistance organization in Los Altos, California where she conducted program evaluations of educational programs designed to assist at-risk adolescents.
Dr. Heckman’s research interests have always been coupled with her interests in clinical work. To further her clinical training and experience, Dr. Heckman pursued additional graduate work at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) in Palo Alto, California and received her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from ITP in 1995. As a part of her training, Dr. Heckman provided therapy for children, families, and adults. Particular areas of focus included relationship and family system issues, adolescent acting-out behaviors, and coping with life threatening illnesses and grief.
In 1997, Dr. Heckman joined ETR Associates in Scotts Valley, California as a Senior Research Associate and worked as the Principal Investigator for the evaluations of two federally-funded San Joaquin County (California) substance abuse treatment programs for women. In 1998, Dr. Heckman began her work as a Principal Investigator for the federally-funded Women, Co-occurring Disorders, and Violence Study (WCDVS). This study was designed to assess the effectiveness of integrated services for women with mental health and substance abuse disorders who also had interpersonal trauma histories. From 1998 through March 2004, Dr. Heckman provided conceptual input and oversight, monitoring, supervision, and leadership to the development, implementation, and analysis of this study.
Over the final year of the WCDVS, Dr. Heckman, along with the other WCDVS Principal Investigators and three women with lived experiences of substance abuse, mental health problems, and trauma histories who had worked with the study, formed the National Trauma Consortium (NTC). The NTC’s mission is to disseminate knowledge gained from the WCDVS through trainings, technical assistance, and products, and to further research on the inter-relationships between trauma, substance abuse, and mental health disorders as well as research on effective service models for assisting adolescents and adults who have been impacted by these issues.
Dr. Heckman has co-authored several articles presenting the findings from the WCDVS, including an article on trauma survivors’ spiritual coping practices. Dr. Heckman was also a lead author on a monograph, It’s My Time to Live: Journeys to Healing and Recovery, based on qualitative case study data collected from WCDVS women. It’s My Time to Live illustrates how hope, meaning, and caring connections with family members and service providers help to further healing and recovery.
Dr. Heckman was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where she attended Punahou School. Dr. Heckman is a swimmer, an equestrian, and, once upon a time, was a long distance runner. Dr. Heckman has served as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research and has been a member of the American and California Associations of Marriage and Family Therapists, the American Public Health Association, and the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Heckman has two teenage daughters.
My son was a 16-year-old recluse. He had stopped going to school and was living in his room playing video games all night and sleeping all day. He had major depression and anxiety and this self-destructive lifestyle had become his way of coping and self-medicating. I watched helplessly as my son slipped further and further away.
Then a therapist recommended Educational Connections and Jennie Heckman. She spent hours interviewing me, gathering information from other sources to figure what what the major issues were and how best to address them. In my son’s case he really needed a whole new environment to come to terms with his emotional issues, and learn healthier ways to cope with stress and anxiety.
Jennie connected my son with a residential treatment center that did all those things. This program literally saved my son’s life. He is in college now majoring in psychology, enjoying his classes and professors. He has discovered a whole new world of ideas and is excited about learning. He has a core group of good friends who are also good students. And he has the coping skills now to deal with stress and stay healthy physically and emotionally.
Thank you Jennie and Educational Connections for giving my son another chance at life!- Mother, Los Altos, CA
Our California office is located in Palo Alto near Stanford University.
560 Oxford Ave., Suite 1, Palo Alto, CA 94306