Shreya Patel Hessler wishes she had someone to turn to when she was growing up as a first generation Indian American.
“In this country, the adjustment was never easy,” says Hessler, a licensed psychologist and owner of The MINDset Center in Bel Air. “Ironically, I grew up in one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the country — Edison, New Jersey.”
Despite growing up in a diverse area, Hessler often struggled to “figure out my place.”
She recalls: “It never occurred to me that I could be that person for somebody else until I took my first psychology class at the University of Maryland.”
It was in that class, psychology 101, that pivoted her into a career in mental health.
Hessler, 45, has been a fixture in the mental health community and has been practicing for 15 years, 13 of those in Harford County.
She and her husband, Jason, and their three children: Isabella, 16, Bianca, 13, and Jai, 9, live in Perry Hall.
Hessler is the immediate past President of The Maryland Psychological Association. In 2018, she wrote a children’s book about anxiety, “Bianca Finds Her Bounce.”
She didn’t always want to be a psychologist
She says she wanted to be an animator.
"I grew up drawing and painting. I painted several murals at my high school and my two favorites remain in my former chemistry teacher’s classroom today. I still paint often and have painted several murals for my children and friends.”
She’s not an athlete but she works with them
“One of my specialties is sports psychology, but I never played a sport. What drove me to work with athletes was the change in the culture of youth sports. When my eldest child [Isabella] started playing sports competitively, I started to see how vital mental health wellness was in the development of youth athletes. Eventually, I began working with some professional athletes and piloted a mental health program in the athletic department at Towson University.”
She throws elaborate dinner parties
“I’ve thrown a ladies dinner party for the significant women in my life for 17 years straight. It began in a small apartment where my husband, who enjoys cooking immensely, would cook a several course meal for a few close friends. Over the years, it became an opportunity for the women in my life to be celebrated and honored as my support system and role models.”