A Sit Down – with Daniel Wilson COVT
For the benefit of our readers, can detail how you are involved in Developmental Optometry?
I am the Head Therapist and Director of Sports Vision Training at Austin Eye Gym in Austin, TX. I have been a vision therapist for 9 years now.
How did you first discover Vision Therapy?
I was going to college for a degree in teaching when a friend of mine told me about a job opportunity working with children and teenagers as a vision therapist. He explained how it could be a good way for me to gain experience that would translate into teaching. Once I saw what kind of impact I could have on a child’s life and how vision therapy helps give them a new world, I knew I found my calling.
You certified in 2011 in Las Vegas. Can you describe that experience to us?
The certification process was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have gone through as a therapist. It forces you to take a hard look at what you know and where you stand as a therapist. By going through the process I found that I was able to provide a higher quality of therapy.
I understand you were volunteered to do a second oral interview. Can you explain the circumstances?
After I had finished my first interview I received a phone call saying I had passed my oral interview and that due to how well I did they would like me to present a second interview to therapists who were interested in certifying the following year in the “Road to COVT”meeting. Initially, I was hesitant on going through this process again in front of so many people but Dr. Leonard Press did a great job of making the process as welcoming and supportive as possible.
Following your own certification, have you had the opportunity to mentor newer therapists?
I had the pleasure of being able to mentor three of my coworkers. This was a great way for me to remind myself of how much I have learned through the years and was rewarding to see my fellow coworkers grow as a therapists.
Can you explain your passion for Sports Vision Therapy?
Sports has always been my passion since I was a child. Being able to improve an athlete’s game and make therapy more dynamic has been a great test of my knowledge in therapy and sports.
Have you ever envisioned a multi-disciplinary clinic involving sports?
Yes I have, my vision is to be able to create a program that can provide circuit training for teams to train while still providing training on an individual level. Ultimately, I would like to have a program created that I could go around to other clinics and help them start their own sports program.
Have you had the opportunity to work with athletes on any level?
Yes, I have been able to work with athletes on the professional, collegiate, high school, middle school, and club level. I have also worked with athletes on sports enhancement and concussion rehabilitation.
As someone who basically “fell into” Vision Therapy, it seems you’ve decided to make it a career. Can you explain the thought process behind that decision?
After 6 months or so of training and working in vision therapy, I started to see the impact it made on patient’s lives and what a dramatic change it could make. I felt that this would be more rewarding given the fact I can work with a patient one on one versus teaching when the ratio is one on thirty or more. At the end of one of my first patient’s programs, he was able to report that he was no longer embarrassed to read in class and started to cry. That memory has stuck with me my entire career and helps drive me daily.
What advice would you offer therapists who are looking to pursue Vision Therapy as a career?
I would offer that each person make every session with your patient count. The impact you make on their life will impact them forever and can be one of the most rewarding things they can go through. At times you will have patients who push you to your limits but those are usually the most impacted patient who will have the biggest gains in the end.
On a personal note, can you tell us about the recent addition to your life?
Last year, my wife and I welcomed our first child, Addilyn. She was born December 14th and has been the greatest thing to happen to us. Her smile and fun personality make every day amazing.
Some Closing Thoughts – A great thanks to my friend, co-worker, and golfing buddy, Daniel, for taking the time for this interview. Daniel and I first met while working together in Houston in 2008 and have been friends ever since. In fact, my son was the ring bearer in Daniel’s wedding. Today, Daniel and I work side by side running Austin Eye Gym (he as Head Therapist and me as General Manager) and work very hard not only to help build our clinic, but also in motivating each other to be the best we can be with every patient. I am thrilled to have Daniel as a co-worker, and I am proud to call him my friend. Please join me in wishing Daniel, his wife Melissa, and their baby Addilyn, the absolute best!