A photo of Heather Bensman.

Heather E. Bensman, PsyD

  • Pediatric Psychologist, Clinical, Behavioral Medicine & Clinical Psychology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
In my practice, I understand that each child and family have their own unique experiences. They are seeking intervention at what is likely to be one of the most difficult times of their lives, and I strive for everyone to have their perspectives heard.



As a clinical psychologist, I provide interventions for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma or significant stressors. I also treat young children with behavioral concerns. I believe that children have tremendous potential if they are given the right environment and tools.

I have always wanted to work with children. During my undergraduate classes, I came to understand that multiple treatment methods that involve specific skills and strategies are proven to benefit a child’s mood and behavior and to relieve anxiety. This convinced me to pursue a career as a child clinical psychologist.

During my fellowship, I worked with children who had experienced trauma and abuse. Those children and their families demonstrated to me that even children who have been in very traumatic situations that have resulted in significant emotional and behavioral symptoms can still engage in therapy. They can learn ways to manage their emotional and behavioral responses and return to functioning as they had prior to their traumas.

In my practice, I understand that each child and family have their own unique experiences. They are seeking intervention at what is likely to be one of the most difficult times of their lives, and I strive for everyone to have their perspectives heard.

I offer treatments that research has shown to result in improvements in symptoms and functioning. These include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and parent-child interaction therapy. I encourage both children and their families to be actively engaged in treatment and to practice the skills at home.

During my career, I’m humbled to have received the Ann Moser Care and Compassion Award in 2015, 2018 and 2019. The division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s bestows this honor on a clinician who demonstrates the following traits:

  • Communicates empathy verbally and nonverbally
  • Encourages
  • Shows kindness
  • Respects privacy
  • Advocates for others
  • Actively listens

I have also served as the president of the Cincinnati Society of Child Clinical Psychologists (2014-2018).

In addition to helping patients, I’m engaged in research with two main areas of focus. One area centers on the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to mental health outcomes in children who have experienced abuse and neglect. In the other area, my colleagues and I are examining the effectiveness of parent-child interaction therapy and expanding the use of the skills involved to new populations.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking and playing outside with my son.


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Behavioral and pharmacological interventions for the prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders with children exposed to maltreatment. Shenk, CE; Keeshin, B; Bensman, HE; Olson, AE; Allen, B. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2021; 211.

Epigenetic Age Acceleration and Risk for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder following Exposure to Substantiated Child Maltreatment. Shenk, CE; O’Donnell, KJ; Pokhvisneva, I; Kobor, MS; Meaney, MJ; Bensman, HE; Allen, EK; Olson, AE. Journal of clinical child psychology. 2021; 1-11.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents who underwent bariatric surgery. Zeller, MH; Reiter-Purtill, J; Jenkins, TM; Kidwell, KM; Bensman, HE; Mitchell, JE; Courcoulas, AP; Inge, TH; Ley, SL; Gordon, KH; et al. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2020; 16:568-580.

A364 Suicidal Risks in Adolescents Following Bariatric Surgery. Zeller, M; Reiter-Purtill, J; Jenkins, T; Bensman, H; Mitchell, J; Courcoulas, A; Inge, T. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2019; 15.

Child adult relationship enhancement (CARE): A brief, skills-building training for foster caregivers to increase positive parenting practices. Messer, EP; Greiner, MV; Beal, SJ; Eismann, EA; Cassedy, A; Gurwitch, RH; Boat, BW; Bensman, H; Bemerer, J; Hennigan, M; et al. Children and Youth Services Review. 2018; 90:74-82.

Childhood Sexual Abuse Increases Risks for Eating Disorder Symptoms and Eating Disorder-Related Health Problems in Females. Li, JC; Noll, JG; Bensman, HE; Putnam, FW. Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice. 2018.

History of Maltreatment in Childhood and Subsequent Parenting Stress in At-Risk, First-Time Mothers: Identifying Points of Intervention During Home Visiting. Shenk, CE; Ammerman, RT; Teeters, AR; Bensman, HE; Allen, EK; Putnam, FW; Van Ginkel, JB. Prevention Science. 2017; 18:361-370.

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