Are You Ready to Fully Embrace Your Authentic Self and Create the Life You Truly Desire?

envision living each day:








the Awaken Joy Journey

a radical roadmap to joy & inner wisdom

This online program weaves together mindfulness meditation, psychotherapy techniques and buddhist philosophy to take you on a deep dive into self-knowledge and self-compassion, while providing the guidance and accountability you need to follow through to achieve the life you truly want to be living.

empowering you with all you need

to make lasting, positive change in the shortest time frame possible

without spending years in aimless, amorphous therapy

This 6-month program takes you step by step on the inner journey needed to live a more joyful, connected, authentic life.  

the time is now

Why waste more years feeling badly about yourself, constantly worried about the future and unhappy? You can retrain your brain towards joy.  You can be your own best friend, develop self-compassion and improve all your relationships at the same time!

What's Included:

  • Group Coaching Sessions, Weekly, via Zoom

  • Small Group Size, Limited to 10

  • Combination of Live and Prerecorded Video Sessions to Systematically Bring You From Stressed and Overwhelmed to Grounded

  • Guidance for A Deep Mindfulness Meditation Practice

  • Accountability Check-Ins and Personalized Guidance

  • Access to Course Material All Year

  • Private Group Site to Deepen Your Understanding through Group Discussion


Working With Barbara

  • There is nothing else like this program available! I know I have not found this vital combination of info/life skills/support/meditation anywhere! -- Betsy R..

  • Barbara, This has been a year of clarity for me and I could not have done it without your guidance. Thank you for helping me put the pieces of myself back together. Resolution #1: “I am hear to live out loud!” - Emile Zora. Happy New Year — Abby S.

  • Barbara helped transform my life from a place of fear to a place of confidence. Our work together even transformed my marriage. Working with Barbara is one of the best choices I ever made. -- Kathy E.

you no longer need to:

  • Beat yourself up all the time with negative self-talk

  • Constantly ruminate about the past or fear the future

  • Suffer with low self-esteem and low self-confidence

  • Be drained by your relationships or your work

  • Live with relentless worry and anxiety

  • Struggle with healthy boundaries and doing too much for others

awaken joy is changing the landscape

Awaken Joy is changing the conversation about psychotherapy, mindfulness meditation and Buddhism.  Meditation centers and Buddhist philosophy tend to ignore childhood imprinting and traumatic wounds.  Psychotherapy avoids interconnectedness, radical acceptance and other life-changing philosophies. Neither usually has a structure to help people make change in a comprehensive manner using tools of coaching and accountability.  This program changes all that. 

joy lives within each of us

It gets covered over when we are wounded, stressed, anxious, and chasing goals that are not satisfying.  The Awaken Joy Journey provides a framework, based on the Four Pillars of Joy, that will uncover and activate your intrinsic joy.  You can use this framework the rest of your LIFE to live with clarity, confidence and joy. 

guidance, accountability and support

Change is hard!  Changing your brain takes practice and follow-through.  Developing a meditation practice takes commitment and inspiration.  We provide the step by step guidance along with an accountability coach and group support to keep you on track.  You can do this!  And we will show you how. 

this program will empower you with the guidance, accountability, transformative experiences and tools to find lasting joy and make peace with yourself

Pricing Options: Date Next Group Will Begin TBD

(The $1,700 pay in full reflects a 10% discount over the monthly payment plan)

this program is not for you if you are suffering with severe depression, unable to function in one of the main areas of your life, and/or struggling with addiction.

this program is not a substitute for, and does not provide, psychotherapeutic or medical help for mental illness.



The Awaken Joy Journey provides a comprehensive blending of two powerful wisdom traditions, psychotherapy and buddhist philosophy.  

The program is also unique in terms of: 

The insight you will develop. You can take cheap courses online.  Yet, with no one to bounce ideas off of your interpretation can stay stuck.  The customized live videos and group discussions in this program will deliver new ways of understanding yourself, your loved ones and the world. 

The support you will receive and the behavioral changes you will make.  Again, with the cheap courses online, there is no accountability. Even in 1:1 therapy, it is rare for there to be accountability. With this program, you will have bi-weekly check-ins, infused with kindness and empathy.  

The self-compassion you will cultivate.  The most important relationship in your life?  Your self!  What if you truly loved yourself and treated yourself with loving kindness? 

The healing you will experience. The combination of mindfulness meditation techniques with an understanding of how our childhood imprinting has impacted us leads to deep, joyful healing.

Joy lives within each of us. It can get covered over by stress, societal expectations, trauma, hardships, interpersonal wounds.  But it is there.  It just needs to be uncovered and activated and this program will show you how.



Barbara Heffernan

Barbara Heffernan, LCSW, is the founder of the Awaken Joy online coaching programs to help people transform their lives without spending years in aimless, amorphous therapy.

Barbara's 27 years of experience with meditation and Buddhism and her 17 years as a private practice psychotherapist give her unique positioning in the online life coaching world.

Because of her first career in investment banking, she's also unusual in her deep understanding of professionals in the corporate, financial and entrepreneurial world. Further, as a mother of three children, she has profound experience with the challenges of balancing career, home life and relationship with significant other.

Barbara has a BA from Yale University, an MBA from Columbia University, and an MSW from Southern Connecticut State University.

Accountability Coach

Jessica Nolan-Bruinsma

Jessica Bruinsma is the Online Business Manager and Accountability Coach for Awaken Joy. She brings more than 20 years of experience as a non-profit manager and business professional to this role. Jessica is also currently a Regional Coordinator for a chain of non-profit thrift centers. She oversees store operations for four thrift centers with income totaling over $2.3 million dollars annually. She works with the volunteers and leadership to continually improve processes, procedures and resources increasing income by 10% in 2019 alone. She played a leading role overseeing the entire start-up process of numerous centers, including securing a location, designing the layout and sales space, and training the entirely volunteer staff. Jessica has embraced the challenge of working with an unpaid staff by leading by example, finding ways to connect volunteers to the mission and using metrics and education to motivate for results. Jessica continues to use her skills for leadership, organization and motivation in her work with Awaken Joy. She is the behind the scenes, detail-oriented, administrative professional for the Awaken Joy team. Jessica has worked within her community as a PTA member and president, director and board member of Sioux Center Hockey Association as well as several leadership roles within her church community. She is married with three children and a Husky named Kiki.

More Testimonials

Working With Barbara

  • Barbara's approach is nothing less than revolutionary in the field of personal growth! It is a very empowering & inspirational message. I am applying the practical actions & methods she taught us. THANK YOU to Barbara & those of you working with her! Your generosity & talents will help to change the world! Namaste! -- Teresa Haugen

  • Barbara’s skillsets are unique, and I feel, very critical to her success with making these approaches to enhancing life and happiness so valuable. I come from a legal background, and have trained as a monastic, (now still in my profession and training in clinical pastoral work) and so for personal reasons find true resonance with Barbara's approach. Like the old parable of finding a gem hidden in the seam of a robe, I am glad to have found Barbara.

  • If you aren't working with Barbara, you're doing it wrong! -Barry G.

  • Barbara offers unique insights and perspective that can be used in actionable ways. She has a way of helping people explore their lives and possibilities, so what comes out of an interaction with Barbara is deeper and more personally meaningful than most experiences I've had in the past with counseling and therapy. She has great frameworks for helping people think through life situations and goals. I participated in her online workshop but got more out of that participation than I ever anticipated. I didn't get lost in details, like I do in therapy sessions... I moved forward and got excited about where I can go from here. She is very compassionate and insightful. --Heather Jacoby