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Kirk Heilbrun

Kirk Heilbrun, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Office: Stratton 334
Phone: 215.553.7109


Kirk Heilbrun is currently a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and previously served as an adjunct member of the Villanova Law School faculty where he co-taught the Law & Mental Health course (with David DeMatteo, PhD). He received his PhD in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980 and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in law and psychology at Florida State University. His research interests include forensic mental health assessment, violence risk assessment, and risk-reducing interventions, all of which have received extramural funding since 1994. He has served as president of the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Board of Forensic Psychology. He is a Diplomate (ABPP) in both clinical and forensic psychology.

Curriculum Vitae:

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Research Interests:

  • Forensic mental health assessment
  • Violence risk assessment
  • Risk management
  • Interventions to reduce risk

How we make a difference – Drexel Reentry Project

Individuals returning to the Philadelphia community following incarceration in federal prison face a host of challenges in their attempt to reintegrate into the community and avoid further offending. The federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has developed a program to assist many of these individuals—and Drexel contributes to their efforts by providing pro bono assessment and rehabilitative services.

Using a cognitive behavioral model and focusing on building skills and strengths that will reduce the risk of reoffending, the Drexel Reentry Project has provided services to over 60 individuals during the three years it’s been operating. Using clinician trainees from Drexel’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, and supervised by a faculty member specializing in assessment and interventions with justice-involved individuals, the Reentry Project offers interested individuals the chance to make the difficult reentry process a bit smoother—and provides the Philadelphia community with an important enhanced public safety benefit as well.


Kirk Heilbrun is currently a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology in 1980 from the University of Texas at Austin, and completed postdoctoral fellowship training from 1981-82 in psychology and criminal justice at Florida State University. His current research focuses on juvenile and adult offenders, legal decision-making, forensic evaluation associated with such decision-making, and youth mentoring programs. His practice interests also center around forensic assessment, and he directs a practicum within the department in this area. He is board certified in Clinical Psychology and in Forensic Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology, and is a past president of both the American Psychology-Law Psychology/APA Division 41, and the American Board of Forensic Psychology.

Selected Publications:

  • Heilbrun, K., Durham, K., Thornewill, A., Schiedel, R., Pietruszka, V., Phillips, S., Locklair, B., & Thomas, J. (in press). Life sentenced juveniles: Public perceptions of risk and need for incarceration. Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
    Arnold, S., Flack, D., & Heilbrun, K. (in press). Risk assessment and juvenile resentencing: A critical analysis. Behavioral Sciences & the Law.
  • Heilbrun, K., Pietruszka, V., Thornewill, A., Phillips, S., & Newsham, R. (in press). Diversion at reentry using criminogenic CBT: Review and prototypical program development. Behavioral Sciences & the Law.
  • Kemp, K., Goldstein, N.E.S., Zelle, H., Viljoen, J., Heilbrun, K., & DeMatteo, D. (in press). Building consensus on the characteristics of developmental immaturity: A cross-disciplinary survey of psychologists. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health.
  • Goldstein, N.E.S., Giallella, C., Peterson, L., Serico, J., Kemp, K., Riggs Romaine, C., Zelechoski, A., Kalbeitzer, R., Kelley, S., Hinz, H., Kelley, M., Pennacchia, D., Prelic, A., Burkard, C., Grisso, T., Heilbrun, K., Núñez, A., Leff, S., Schwartz, R., & Lochman. J. (in press). Juvenile Justice Anger Management (JJAM) treatment for girls: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Services.
  • LaDuke, C., Locklair, B., & Heilbrun, K. (2018). Psychological, neuropsychological, and neuroscientific evidence equally impact legal decision making: Implications for experts and legal practitioners. Journal of Forensic Psychology: Research and Practice. DOI: 10.1080/24732850.2018.1439142

Selected Book Chapters:

  • Heilbrun, K., King, C. M., & Slobogin, C. (in press). Insanity and diminished capacity: Scientific status. In D. Faigman, J. Blumenthal, E. Cheng, J. Mnookin, E. Murphy, J. Sanders, & C. Slobogin (Eds.), Modern scientific evidence: The law and science of expert testimony. St. Paul, MN: West.
  • Heilbrun, K., Yasuhara, K., Shah, S., & Locklair, B. (in press). Approaches to violence risk assessment: Overview, critical analysis, and future directions. In R.K. Otto & K. Douglas (Eds.), Handbook of violence risk assessment (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
  • Heilbrun, K., DeMatteo, D., Newsham, R., Pietruszka, V., Fairfax-Columbo, J., & Arnold, S. (in press). Factors predicting desistance from criminal behaviors and aggression in adult offenders: A critical review. In C. Langton & J. Worling (Eds.), Wiley handbook of offender desistance from aggression and crime: Theory, research, and evidence-based practice. New York: Wiley.
  • Heilbrun, K., Griffin, P., Mulvey, E., DeMatteo, D., Schubert, C., Winckworth Prejsnar, K., Phillips, S., & Filone, S. (2017). Diversion and the Sequential Intercept Model: Implications for emerging forensic service areas. In R. Roesch & A. Cook (Eds.), Handbook of forensic mental health services (pp. 543-565). New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
  • Heilbrun, K. (2017). Jargon, diagnoses, and commenting on other professionals’ work. In G. Pirelli, R. Beattey, & P. Zapf (Eds.), The ethical practice of forensic psychology: A casebook. New York: Oxford.

Selected Books:

  • DeMatteo, D., Heilbrun, K., Arnold, S., & Thornewill, A. (in press). Problem-solving courts and the criminal justice system. New York: Oxford.
  • Greene, E., & Heilbrun, K. (2019). Wrightsman’s psychology and the legal system (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Heilbrun, K., DeMatteo, D., King, C., & Filone, S. (2017). Evaluating juvenile transfer and disposition: Law, science, and practice. New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Otto, R., Goldstein, A., & Heilbrun, K. (2017). Ethics in forensic psychology practice. New York: Wiley.
  • Heilbrun, K., DeMatteo, D., & Goldstein, N. (Eds.) (2016). APA handbook of psychology and juvenile justice. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Selected Presentations:

For more please download Professor Heilbrun's CV (PDF)