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 s
everal 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.
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.
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.
Emily Hudkins, Ph.D.
Dr. Hudkins received her master’s and doctorate degrees from the APA-approved School Psychology program at the University of South Florida. She completed her internship with the Pasco County School District and her post-doctoral residency with the University of South Florida, Division of Neurobehavioral Health.
Dr. Hudkins enjoys working with young children through adolescents for therapy and assessment to address social/emotional, behavioral, and learning concerns. She uses a family-centered approach that integrates multiple treatment approaches and is tailored to the needs of each individual. Critical to her work is an emphasis on collaboration and empowerment of children and families to generalize success to each aspect of their lives. Dr. Hudkins has co-authored several peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on the topic of mental health assessment and wellness promotion in children and adolescents. She currently works at our North Tampa location.
Elyssa Luria, M.A., School Psychologist
Elyssa Luria worked for eight years in the preschool, elementary and middle school settings as a nationally certified school psychologist. Elyssa received her Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, San Diego in Clinical Psychology. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in School Psychology from Humboldt State University. Elyssa completed her NASP-approved internship in Santa Maria, California. She is experienced in conducting a variety of comprehensive traditional and alternative psycho-educational, social/emotional, academic, low incidence, behavioral and English Language Learner assessments. Elyssa also has ample training and experience in providing students with school-based mental health services which includes counseling, social skills training, crisis intervention and prevention, program development and implementation, bully prevention strategies, and mental health screenings. Elyssa enjoys working with preschool aged children through high school and is dedicated to helping students with academic, social, and learning challenges. With a background in the Luria Neuropsychological Theory, Elyssa is a proponent of conducting strengths-based assessments. She feels that all children are wired differently and strongly believes in the advantages of helping kids understand their strengths and weaknesses as part of understanding the way learning works.
Elyssa and her family relocated to Tampa from Sacramento, California in 2010. She is passionate about providing mental health services to the children in her community.
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.
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.