Speaker announcement: Dr. Heather Bowlds


An abundance of research has established the critical importance of providing trauma-informed care within the juvenile justice system. Simultaneously, there has been an increased recognition of the stress, trauma and burnout that burdens correctional staff across the country. Although understanding both of these concepts individually is important, the vital and dynamic interplay between the two is sometimes lost when discussed or trained separately. In the breakout session “Learning to Breathe: The importance of self-care in a trauma-informed world,” Dr. Heather Bowlds, a deputy director of California’s Division of Juvenile Justice, will explore the nexus between staff well-being and the creation of a trauma-informed environment. Most importantly, Dr. Bowlds will provide guidance in coping with the personal challenges we face when trying to balance both.

Heather C. Bowlds, PsyD, is the deputy director of operations and programs for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Juvenile Justice.

Dr. Bowlds has been with DJJ for more than 18 years. For more than 13 years, she has specialized in the treatment of adolescents who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior. She is regarded as a highly effective administrator and was directly involved with the development and implementation of DJJ’s Sexual Behavior Treatment Program curriculum, recognized as a state-of-the-art program for sexually problematic youth. As the Associate Director of Mental Health Services, she oversaw the Mental Health remedial plan until the termination of the Farrell class action lawsuit in 2016. The reforms of California’s juvenile justice system have made DJJ a national model.

Dr. Bowlds graduated with a doctorate degree in forensic psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. In 2014, Dr. Bowlds was presented with the Christine M. West Award, in recognition of appreciation of significant contributions made to the field of forensic mental health, by the Forensic Mental Health Association of California.


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