HEATHER PRIME, PHD, C. PSYCH.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Given that the majority of mental health difficulties have their origins in childhood, it is critical to support developmental health from early on. As such, Dr. Prime's research program uses a family-based approach to understanding cognitive and socio-emotional development in young children. Throughout her research, Dr. Prime emphasizes the importance of family relationships as a key mechanism through which risk and/or resilience is transmitted in families. She considers contextual environments that may expose children to risk, such as socioeconomic disadvantage and early adverse experiences, and the ways in which these risks operate in tandem with protective factors within the child, family, and broader context. More recently, Dr. Prime is studying how the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a threat to family well-being and child adjustment. The overarching goal of Dr. Prime's research program is to provide evidence to inform public health policy and clinical practice aimed at supporting vulnerable children and their families.
Dr. Prime utilizes multiple, complementary methodological designs, such as longitudinal, within-family (sibling), and RCT designs, to address complex questions related to human development. To this end, she is keen on studying individual differences in children and families, including predictors and consequences, as well as evidence-based interventions to support child and family well-being. She frequently implements real-time observations of family interactions between parent-child and sibling dyads, including the development of efficient behavioural observation coding systems, which are now in use in epidemiological and public health initiatives internationally.
Dr. Prime joined the Department of Psychology at York University in 2020, following a CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University. She is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and she is a practicing clinical psychologist in the Greater Toronto Area, with expertise in working with the family unit to support children’s mental health and well-being. As a clinical psychologist, she is committed to using her clinical training to guide her research, and she emphasizes clinical utility in her research endeavours.