An Improbable Journey: The Career and Influence of Puncky P. Heppner

Helen A. Neville, Yu Wei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Puncky Paul Heppner is one of the most productive counseling psychologists; he is also a social justice advocate, loving partner, and artist. Dr. Heppner has influenced counseling psychology in immeasurable ways. He is internationally recognized for his research on applied problem-solving and research methods, widely acknowledged for his visionary and collaborative leadership style, and highly respected for his culturally informed mentoring. In this life narrative, we contextualize his numerous accomplishments. We first discuss the influence of his early life experiences, following his life journey through his undergraduate years and doctoral studies, to his 36-year career at the University of Missouri. We highlight the numerous ways in which Dr. Heppner has influenced (counseling) psychology, including increasing the racial, ethnic, and international representation in the field through his leadership and advocacy as president of the Society of Counseling Psychology and editor of The Counseling Psychologist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-642
Number of pages24
JournalCounseling Psychologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2021


  • cultural humility
  • leadership
  • mentoring
  • problem-solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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