James Madison University
PHOTO: Mary Joanna Vilar (Mary Joanna Rankin)

Mary Joanna Vilar (Mary Joanna Rankin)

  • Years Attended: 2003-2007
  • Advisor: Harriet Cobb

Areas of Interest

Children and families; psychological assessment; Minor concentration in neuropsychology


I am in private practice (I have my own practice since 2013, Family Psychology of Orlando, LLC).  I love doing private practice because I can work with a range of clients and do a mixture of therapy and assessment.  I also work with both adults and children (for both therapy and assessment).  I do some pro bono work with family/dependency court, and have more recently started to work with dependency and family court more frequently, providing both psychological evaluations of families and therapy.  I have been qualified as an expert witness in child psychology and more specifically, interviewing techniques to assess for child abuse.  I have even worked on several cases involving the Hague Convention (international child custody and child abuse related).  

Program Reflections

Looking back on the program, what stands out to me most is the emphasis on self-awareness and self-reflection (and really recognizing and understanding our own individual "issues" is you will), and how important and necessary that is to be a good psychologist.  I recall that being a difficult piece for me while in the program, but after leaving I then began to miss the emphasis on this.  I have made a point to keep this at the forefront of my professional and personal life.  As a secondary, I'd like to add that emphasis on children and families (rather than just "adult clinical") has been so helpful, as I've found there is a lesser number of professionals (in my area of the country, at least) that do this kind of work, and as a result I am in high demand.