Helen L. Coons, PhD, ABPP
LIWP Excecutive Committee Chair
Helen L. Coons, PhD, ABPP, is the president and clinical director of Women’s Mental Health Associates, Philadelphia. Dr. Coons is a clinical psychologist and board certified clinical health psychologist who specializes in women’s health and mental health. She is also a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Drexel University College of Medicine, and has an Allied Health appointment in the department of psychiatry, Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Health System. Coons received her PhD in clinical psychology from Temple University in 1990 after interning in medical psychology at the Duke University Medical Center. In 2005, she represented the APA at the DHHS Primary Health Care Policy Fellowship. Coons’ prior positions were in academic medicine at MCP Hahnemann University (1989 to 1994) and at the Health Federation of Philadelphia—the public health coordinating agency for the Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in the Philadelphia area (1994 to 2000).
Since 2000, Coons’ independent practice has rotated to different women’s multispecialty, obstetrics gynecology, reproductive endocrinology and oncology settings. She specializes in the interdisciplinary care of women across the life span with health, mental health, relational, sexual, family and professional concerns. Coons’ consultation and treatment promotes recovery and resilience in women and couples coping with: depression, anxiety, panic disorder and PTSD; anxiety about invasive medical procedures; pregnancy and post-partum related mood disorders; pregnancy loss and complications; infant and child illness or loss; fertility challenges; sexual difficulties such as low desire and pain; chronic and life-threatening medical conditions; chronic pain; early and advanced cancer as well as post-treatment effects; high cancer risk; caregiver and bereavement issues; difficulties with PMS, PCOS and menopause; weight related issues; poor self esteem and body image; past and recent trauma; professional concerns and transitions; and hearing and voice difficulties.
Coons enjoys translating psychological research and practice to community audiences through varied media including TV, radio, Internet, webcast and magazine articles. She is cited in Newsweek.com, WallStreetJournal.com, ABCNews.com, WebMD.com, Health.com, iVillage.com, OncoLink.com, LearnVest.com as well as magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Real Simple, Fit Pregnancy and Redbook. Coons is a dynamic speaker known locally and nationally for her interactive presentations to community, professional and corporate audiences, and to psychologists, physicians and other health and mental health providers. Her keynotes, workshops, grand rounds and continuing education programs focus on a host of issues affecting women and families across the life span, as well as patient care and satisfaction.
A fellow of the APA and the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Coons has held several leadership roles in the APA. She was chair of the Div. 38 (Health Psychology) Committee on Women and Health from 1989 to 1992 and 1998 to 1999; chair, Div. 38 Continuing Education Committee from 2004 to 2007; and served as the course director for the 2005 Clinical Health Psychology Institute on Women’s Health. In addition, she was on the planning committee for three major APA interdisciplinary conferences (1994, 1996, 2002) on women’s health as well as the 2000 summit on women and depression.
Coons also served on the Div. 42 (Psychologists in Independent Practice) Task Force on Health Care for the Whole Person, the APA Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) from 2006 to 2008, as well as the APA’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice from 2009 to 2010. Coons is the founding chair of the APA Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology Executive Committee; served on the 2010 APA President’s Task Force on Advancing Practice; and represents the APA Division of Health Psychology on the Council of Representatives (2010 to 2012).
Policy activities at the national, state and local level have allowed Coons to support collaborations across psychology, medicine, nursing and public health. She was on the Philadelphia EMA HIV Planning Commission and Care Committee (1996 to 2000); invited member of the Health Care Committee, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence (1998 to 1999); invited presenter at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) National Cancer Policy Board 2002 meeting on Psychosocial Services for Women with Breast Cancer; appointed to SAMHSA’s Advisory Committee for Women’s Services from 2003 to 2007; and invited participant in the November 2004 Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH, discussion on Five Year Goals as well as the December 2005 Surgeon General’s Working Meeting on Women’s Mental Health. Recent policy activities focus on advocating for integrated primary care settings in national health care legislation.
Coons routinely serves on health care advisory committees for patient resources developed by Living Beyond Breast Cancer. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of the First Hospital Foundation in Philadelphia (2011 to present).
Coons received the 2001 APA Committee on Women in Psychology Emerging Leader Award; the 2005 American Psychological Foundation and APA Division of Health Psychology Timothy B. Jeffrey Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Health Psychology; the 2010 Pennsylvania Psychological Association Psychology and the Media Award; and a 2011 APA Presidential Citation.