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Meet Dr. Melissa Lang and Dr. Dana Weinstein of Center for Psychological and Educational Assessment in Marietta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Melissa Lang and Dr. Dana Weinstein.

Dr. Lang and Dr. Weinstein started the practice in 2002 after working as child psychologists in multiple other venues. They initially met right after graduating from college, while working at Emory University as research assistants in the Psychology Department. That was when they had their initial discussions about one day becoming child psychologists and opening their own practice. Soon afterwards, they each continued on their own route in graduate school in the Atlanta area, remaining close friends. Dr. Lang was trained as a school psychologist at Georgia State, while Dr. Weinstein was trained as a clinical psychologist at Emory, both working with children from toddler through high school ages. After working in other private practices, school settings, and hospital settings, they finally decided to collaborate and open their own center. After experiencing other venues, they wanted to create a practice that would focus specifically on learning and behavioral issues, using the most updated, research-based neuropsychological diagnostic assessments to evaluate children in all areas of development, in addition, they wanted the flexibility to work with one child at a time, at his or her own pace, to obtain the most complete profile possible.

Their intake coordinator, Debbie Newman, has been with them for 6 years. Last year, Dr. Adria Garrett and Dr. Jamie Miller joined their team.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, with both of us being moms and starting up our own small business, it has been a delicate balance of work versus family time. For the first several years we did not have office staff, so we were the secretaries, billing specialists, and psychologists all rolled into one! In the beginning, we shared office space with other mental health providers in an office building, which had its own challenges. We realized we wanted our own stand-alone building to make a space for our clients where kids can be kids that is not afforded in a traditional office setting. A few years in, we finally found a turn-of-the-century renovated house and outdoor space that we fell in love with, and transformed it into a kid-friendly space. Our families often comment on this aspect of our practice, as it feels like a cozy, home-based setting rather than a traditional doctors’ office. Our youngest clients, many who have had less-than-pleasant experiences at the doctor, seem immediately comfortable, so it has worked out as we hoped.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We specialize in individually tailored assessments for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders including Asperger’s Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and emotional issues. Based on client feedback, I think we stand out as a result of our specifically tailoring evaluations based on the needs of each individual child. Initially, we typically sit down with parents for an extensive interview in order to map out each area of evaluation based on the referral concerns. For example, many tools assess reading skills, but one size does not fit all: based on the child’s age and specific areas of difficulty, one test may be superior to another. We also individually tailor the timing of assessment sessions based on a student’s age, attention span, and motivation. While one child may easily be able to focus for the length of a typical school day, another may need multiple short testing sessions in order to maximize engagement. We may rearrange the plan midstream when working with a student based on his or her performance; we have to be flexible to ensure we have the most accurate results. We also tailor the recommendations for each child based upon his or her strengths and weaknesses and personality as well as parent resources.

As several of our psychologists have lengthy experience working inside the public schools, we are unique in that we are well-versed in special education eligibility, legal rights of students with disabilities, research-based academic interventions, and similar issues. We can often be helpful by attending school meetings with parents in order to act as advocates or liaisons. In addition, our doctoral-level psychologists administer the entire evaluation; we do not use psychometrists or technicians, as we prefer to personally observe the child’s work style and strategies across all learning tasks.

As a small business, we are able to offer direct access to our clients. Even after the assessment is complete and feedback received, our parents often consult the psychologist months or even years later for assistance with ongoing educational planning, behavior management, referrals to other specialists such as tutors or speech therapists, or reevaluations for standardized testing accommodations. We enjoy following our students’ progress throughout their educational career!

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