Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Vinita Patel.
Dr. Patel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a kid, I was always quite inquisitive about people, their families, what everyone was up to on a given day, so I asked them questions… lots of questions. I am sure the neighbors and family friends thought I was just a harmless, nosy child, so most appeased my curious appetite. As I matured, I learned to use age-appropriate social skills and temper the rapid-fire Q & A. However, my curiosity regarding human behavior, our motivators and relationship dynamics continued to grow. These questions led me to a pursue a B.S. in Psychology. I loved the rich discussions in most of my core Psych courses. One course, in particular, stood out more than the others, “Memory and Learning” which piqued my interest in how/why we learn differently from one another.
After undergrad, I worked at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in the city on the child and adolescent unit. There was an accredited school within the unit. Though the patients were suffering from all sorts of significant psychiatric disorders they were required to attend 2 – 3 hours of school each weekday as part of the program. No matter what debilitating and painful mental health issues they were facing, their learning could not be interrupted. All of this led to my interest in combining Psychology and Education. Fast forward… I earned a Masters and Ph.D. in School Psychology.
After working in several public school districts in Illinois and Hawaii, I decided it was time to start a private practice and focus on specific skills that cannot necessarily be taught in the traditional school setting. I have been in private practice for about 12 years now and feel humbly honored to be part of my clients’ educational and emotional growth.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Great question though my answer would vary depending on when I was asked:
If you would have asked me this question when I was in graduate school, I would have said, “Not really… I love the classes, I have incredible professors, and the program is designed to prepare us to be strong School Psychologists. Can’t wait to be out in the education field working and applying all of this knowledge!”
Same question first job out of school: “Yikes! It is really challenging being the only School Psychologist for hundreds of students across three schools. I hope I don’t let them down!”
My answer now after being a School Psychologist for the past 25 years and having worked in both the public & private sector: “Not a smooth road but certainly not one that I could not navigate. I am glad it was not smooth, was met with some challenges and uncomfortable moments. Those were the times when I grew the most professionally. I still remember my most challenging cases and continue to draw from those experiences. I am fortunate enough to have mentors and colleagues who continue to inspire me.”
Please tell us about The Office of Dr. Vinita Patel.
There is a fairly large percentage of students (including adults) who struggle with goal setting, managing their time, prioritizing, organizing their external and internal world, regulating their emotions, self-monitoring, long-term planning. These complex set of skills are called “Executive Functions” which are housed in our frontal lobe. Without the ability to access and utilize our executive function skills adequately, we end up with less than optimal results with tasks that are small or large. In my private practice, I work with students of all ages on these skills so that they can reach their maximum potential. In addition, I conduct comprehensive educational evaluations on those who may have related learning issues, such as learning disabilities, AD/DH, Dyslexia, etc.
As a school psychologist, I have unique expertise in both Psychology and Education. Additionally, I have an understanding of learning and cognition, information processing, psychopathology, as well as child development, and educational foundations. Together, these skills and experiences have taught me to appreciate that students are much, much more than labels, numbers, and percentiles. Each student is unique in how they acquire, process, and express information. It is our job, as educators, to provide them with effective resources that will allow them to excel academically.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory has to be traveling to India for the entire summer when I was seven years old with my Mom. Though I was born in India, we moved to the U.S. when I was only two years of age, so I have no recollection of what my life was like when we lived there. On that first trip back, I remember meeting all of my cousins (again), learning the language (again), riding in rickshaws, being in awe at the cows that freely roamed the already busy urban streets, taking weekly elephant rides, and just re-connecting with my rich culture.
- Website: www.VinitaPatel.com
- Phone: (847) 441-7900
- Email: Vinita@VinitaPatel.com