J. Salima Patel, PhD


Say the phrase “family work” and watch Dr. Patel’s face light up. This is a clear indication of the fiery passion that has fueled her professional pursuits. The belief that “family recovery and wellness” is the one true way toward familial and ultimately individual happiness has become synonymous with her academic endeavors and clinical practice. Dr. Patel has been instrumental in helping families recognize and change unhealthy patterns of communication and behavior, with the goal of family reunification (when appropriate). Her emphasis and commitment to Family Systems Theory is evident in her practice and career. Today as a co-founder of the Wellness Institute of Florida, she and her business partner share the vision of bringing family recovery and wellness to all those who desire it. Dr. Patel’s implementation of this model with true success is testament that her ideology works.  

With longtime clients both locally and on the East and West Coast, Dr. Patel currently maintains a thriving boutique concierge mental healthcare company that provides an array of services, from weekly private counseling to 3-5 day clinical family intensive sessions nationwide. In addition to her company, Dr. Patel, who has a belief rooted firmly in empirical research, has delivered keynote speeches, seminars and workshops designed to train practitioners on the effectiveness and necessity of embracing the concept of family recovery in clinical practice. 

Dr. Patel has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and a PhD in Psychology. She was born in Madagascar (yes it’s a real place), grew up in Kenya, and had the luxury of an interesting and well-travelled life, having lived in Europe for several years. She came to the United States to go to college, fell in love with Miami, and planted her flag. Her humility is both refreshing as it is endearing; usually she’s the first to say “Please don’t call me doctor, call me Salima,” and most do. 

Dr. Patel has over two decades of experience working in the helping profession. She began her career as an intern working in acute psychiatric care, primarily treating schizophrenia and other mood and thought disorders. She has had extensive experience following her work at The Renfrew Center where she specialized in treating eating disorders at an acute care level. The transition into substance use disorders (SUD’s) was almost seamless since experts agree, SUD’s and eating disorders are often comorbid. Having worked in some of the leading treatment facilities in Florida while maintaining a longstanding private practice, the scope of Dr. Patel’s professional and personal experience in the field of mental and behavioral health is as extensive as it is diverse.

The passion and impetus for Dr. Patel's doctoral work was born from deep personal and professional experience. Her research has been in the area of family involvement and its necessity for successful outcomes in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD’s). She has and continues to remain committed to helping individual practitioners as well as treatment programs successfully integrate a family-inclusive treatment paradigm. She is a passionate advocate for family members impacted by substance use disorders, and believes that ‘family recovery’ is fundamental for effective and successful long-term wellness outcomes.

Dr. Patel often states: “…despite our varied life experiences, our underlying emotional pain is often universal – that’s what we must treat and work to heal.”