December 2016 Extraordinary Woman: Dr. Wendy Rice of Rice Psychology Group
Growing up in Great Neck, New York, wasn’t easy for Wendy Rice because of a problem sustained during her birth that left her right side “droopy.” Although the active, determined little girl went on to disprove doctors who said she might not be able to run or do physical activities like other children, Rice struggled with ADHD. She struggled to keep her room tidy, follow instructions in school and study.
It wasn’t until she started spending time with horses that she had her “aha” moment. Her love for animals was a critical piece of her development that helped her understand that intelligence comes in many forms and led her to a career spent helping others make those discoveries for themselves.
“When I put the birth injury pieces together and realized that it really, really wasn’t my fault, I also realized that I had at least one great skill: I could intuitively understand people and their problems, just as I’d always done with horses,” writes Rice in her upcoming book, “More than One Thing.” “Because I get learning, memory, attention and even emotional difficulties from the inside out, I have an uncanny ability to understand and explain those problems to those who also experience them. That synergy, that connection, is what it’s all about for me.”
Rice went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from Skidmore College and master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Yeshiva University in New York City. She also completed postdoctoral programs in psychodynamic psychotherapy and in clinical neuropsychology. After living and practicing in Manhattan for ten years, she moved to Tampa in 2000 to be closer to family and founded Rice Psychology Group, which has offices in North and South Tampa. She loves to travel—and particularly loved her recent African safaris—and enjoys time with family and friends. A competitive amateur equestrian, two of the most important people in Rice’s life are her horse, Caspar, and English goldendoodle, Milo.
What is your proudest moment?
After my first year of graduate school, I was sure I couldn’t become a psychologist. It was just too hard: the ink blots, the statistics, the report writing – but somehow, I knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel! And then my brother suggested that I move to Tampa. “Hang out a shingle and you’ll be fine; you’re from New York,” he said – and I did! Looking back, I cannot count the number of individuals, families, professionals and even schools I have touched over the past 20 years. Those are truly my proudest moments.
What is your biggest achievement?
Utilizing my own struggles as a way to help others. It was a huge decision for me whether or not to reveal that I have ADHD, but when I looked back, I realized that not only have I come out okay, I’m a better psychologist for having lived my particular life. I serve others and help them to see what is possible when they understand their own strengths and challenges, or those of their children or loved ones. This thing that I used to be afraid to share is one of the reasons that folks seek me out. It helps people to see how they can succeed in spite of and even because of their condition.
Describe the holidays at your house.
Fireplace, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, friends and family. Sometimes croissants from William Sonoma. Celebrating all of the holidays, although I am Jewish. I give and receive Chanukah and Christmas gifts – and I love it! The holidays are an important time for me to celebrate what is important to all of the people I know.
What is your happiest holiday memory?
Celebrating Chanukah with all of my nieces and nephews when they were younger because it was so easy to find fun gifts for them that they really enjoyed. One year I wanted an iPod and my nephew thought I needed to have a full line of American Girl dolls so he brought me a doll, the horse, the dog and an outfit. This didn’t happen to me as a child; this happened just a few years ago when I was already solidly in my 40’s!
One of my most memorable holiday memories is of when I took Milo to a soup kitchen on Christmas Day – being a psychologist, my tendency is to help, and this is what I did.
Do you have a favorite holiday tradition or gift?
There are two sides to the holiday. On the personal side, I like to light the menorah, enjoy singing the prayers and love gift exchanges and latkes (potato pancakes) with apple sauce. The other side is the professional: Dr. Wendy Rice who sends gifts and cards to those who matter and receives gifts and well wishes. I love to celebrate the amazing people who make Rice Psychology Group their work family. We always have a holiday gathering (the past few years at my house) which is a time to celebrate each other, bring our significant others together, and of course eat, drink and be merry.
What makes you happy during the holidays, and how do you avoid holiday stress?
Christmas stockings and holiday lights. Sometimes I go out of town and celebrate with other people’s families
What kind of message would you like to give women in the area or in this community?
Because holidays are stressful, remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.
Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.