Wendy B. Rice, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist and Founder of Rice Psychology Group
Since opening her private practice in Tampa in 2001, Dr. Wendy Rice has become widely known in the region as a highly qualified and compassionate psychologist. She has significant experience working with children, adolescents, adults and seniors, offering Diagnostic Interviews, Testing and Assessment and Therapy to her clients. She was the first to pioneer the use of Brain Train software for Cognitive Training in Tampa, and her insights on a variety of psychological, social and learning issues have been featured in the local Media.
In 2006, Dr. Rice moved her practice headquarters to its current Carrollwood location, and in 2010, she added several therapists and expanded her services to create Rice Psychology Group. Rice Psychology Group opened their South Tampa office in Palma Ceia in the Winter of 2012. Under Dr. Rice’s direction, all of the psychologists and therapists in the practice work to offer personalized care in an atmosphere that is both professional and relaxed.
Dr. Rice began her career in Manhattan at a practice that specialized in working with children with difficult temperaments. She received her master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Yeshiva University in New York City, and she completed her American Psychological Association (APA)-approved internship in clinical psychology at the Astor Home for Children in the Bronx. Dr. Rice also completed two years of additional training in adult psychodynamic psychotherapy through the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society. She completed a formal post doctoral certificate program in clinical neuropsychology under the direction of renowned neuropsychologist Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg to better understand and treat the connections between behavior, learning and brain functioning.
Steffanie Sperry, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Sperry is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the areas of health psychology, eating and weight disorders, childhood behavior problems, and depression and anxiety across the age span. Dr. Sperry received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of South Florida. She completed her pre-doctoral internship in medical psychology at the University of Florida/Shands Hospital. Dr.
Sperry held a post-doctoral fellowship appointment at USF-Health where she treated patients with eating and weight disorders as part of the multidisciplinary Healthy Weight Clinic. Dr. Sperry also served as an integrated care psychologist working alongside pediatricians and internists offering psychological services to children, adolescents, adults and families struggling with a multitude of medical, behavioral and psychiatric concerns. Dr. Sperry, currently holds an adjunct supervisor position within the USF Department of Psychology where she trains clinical psychology doctoral students to assess and treat obesity and eating disorders.
Dr. Sperry works with individuals to improve overall health and quality of life using scientifically supported interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness and behavior modification. As a clinical and health psychologist, Dr. Sperry treats childhood behavior concerns, sleep problems, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, adolescent issues, family dysfunction, and overall stress management. She has published numerous research articles and book chapters related to the assessment and treatment of disordered eating and the development of body image disturbance.
Lacy Hiltbrand, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
Dr. Hiltbrand received her master’s and doctorate degrees from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University-Chicago. She completed her internship with the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Treatment Program at the New York Center for Child Development, and her post-doctoral fellowship at the Andrus Children’s Center in New York. Dr. Hiltbrand is licensed in both Florida and New York.
Dr. Hiltbrand sees children, adolescents, young adults and parents in psychotherapy. She uses an integrative and collaborative approach drawing upon her training in psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, developmentally based play therapy and child-parent psychotherapy. Her areas of expertise include anxiety and depression, relationship issues, trauma, developmental disabilities, adoption and eating disorders. Dr. Hiltbrand currently works at both our North and South Tampa locations.
Megan Sutsko, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Sutsko earned her doctorate of clinical psychology and completed her APA-approved internship at Widener University’s Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology with rotations at Fairplace Juvenille Justice in Philadelphia and at Widener University Counseling Center in Chester, Pa. Part of her graduate training included a specialty in school psychology where she became a Certified School Psychologist in both Pennsylvania and Florida. Dr. Sutsko’s experience includes work in schools, hospitals, community mental health centers, university counseling, and hospice.
Dr. Sutsko enjoys working with pre-school aged children through adults and feels strongly that the therapeutic relationship is the most important factor to enact change. Having clients feel both comfortable and empowered when working together is her goal. Her areas of expertise include: anxiety and depression, relationship issues, eating disorders, trauma, bereavement, implications of affluence, and health related issues. Dr. Sutsko works out of our Carrollwood location.
Melissa DeGeso-Jones, Psy.D., Psychology Resident
Dr. Melissa DeGeso-Jones joins Rice Psychology Group as a psychology resident under the supervision of Dr. Rice. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Argosy University – Tampa and her internship training in child and adolescent psychology at Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven, CT ( the first child guidance center in the country). Additionally, she has extensive training and experience in PTSD and trauma related disorders through her seven year tenure at the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven, CT. She has served as a psychological consultant to the CT State Attorney General’s office and presented at the local, state and national levels for her work with traumatized Victims of Crime.
Dr. DeGeso-Jones’ treatment approach is one that emphasizes “what happened” to the individual rather than “what is wrong with” the individual. Therapeutic services include, but are not limited to, trauma-centered therapy, solution-focused crisis intervention, non-directive play therapy, and cognitive behavioral interventions for individuals, couples, families and groups. Psychological assessments include: IQ and Learning Disability testing, Psychiatric (DSM-IV & V Diagnostic Criteria) and Personality testing and specialized assessments in PTSD for clinical and civil litigation purposes.
In addition to her clinical experience, Dr. DeGeso-Jones has served as Dean of Academic Affairs at Everglades University, Program Chair for the School of Undergraduate Studies and Adjunct Faculty member of graduate clinical psychology at Argosy University, and Guest Lecturer of PTSD and Trauma at Yale University.
Jeffrey Smith, Ed.S., Licensed School Psychologist
Jeffrey D. Smith has been working for Hillsborough County Schools as a School Psychologist since 1999, as well as working for Rice Psychology Group since 2005.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy, his master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, and his master’s degree and educational specialist degree in school psychology all from the University of South Florida. He is state certified, nationally certified, and licensed as a School Psychologist. He also holds certification as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst.
Andrea Mason, AD/HD & Montessori Life Coach
With over 30 years of experience in Montessori education, Andrea feels the Montessori’s philosophy of respect, trust and “helping children help themselves” has provided her with the perfect foundation for coaching clients to find their own answers and creative solutions.
Her teaching experience, with its emphasis on organization, sequencing, responsibility and attention to detail serves her well when working with AD/HD clients.
Christine Ginty, Office Manager
Christine is originally from Massachusetts, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. As the assistant to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Christine became involved with the operations and organization of a 12-person faculty team. Christine moved to Tampa in 2004, and worked as a Branch Operations Manager for a Fortune 500 company for four years before coming to work for Rice Psychology Group.
Christine’s administrative and managerial experience, combined with her belief in the importance of psychological intervention for children in need, is of great value to the practice.
Mary Ann Pickard, Administrative Assistant
Mary Ann Pickard is the administrative assistant in our South Tampa office. She is originally from Maine, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics and Health Education from the University of Maine at Farmington. She enjoyed teaching at the middle school level and later working with non-profit community health programs. After raising two daughters, Mary Ann and her husband moved to Tampa in 2002 to follow his career.
Lily and Milo, Canine Assistants
Lily, a small Cocker Spaniel, has been working in the unofficial capacity of “therapy dog” for the past nine years.
Milo, an English Goldendoodle, is in formal training at Kids and Canines, an assistance dog training prgram, to become either a service dog or a certified therapy dog. He attends school in Hillsborough County at The Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center where “at-risk” middle school students and a wonderful staff work diligently to train Milo and 11 other dogs during every school day.
After school and on holidays, Milo can be found at the office working with Lily and the staff to help clients feel more comfortable, providing emotional support, and often by participating in play therapy sessions with children. Substantial research has clearly demonstrated the importance of the human-animal bond as well as the value of properly trained animals for treating children with a wide range of difficulties. Inclusion of the dogs is just one part of overall treatment, but it can facilitate progress on many dimensions. Safety is a top priority and the dogs are closely supervised.