Being An Active Listener.

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Active listening is a communication technique used in counseling, it requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker, by re-stating or paraphrasing what they heard in their own words, in order to confirm what they heard and to confirm the understanding of both parties. Active listening is important for successful interactions.

Try these strategies to really improve your listening skills:

  • Look at the other person. People send clues through facial expressions and body language, use what your eyes see to help your ears listen.
  • Reflect back on emotions. Use phrases like “it seems like you’re feeling angry, is that right?”
  • Use open ended questions. Open ended questions gives the individual a chance to explain and give more information.
  • Reflect on meaning. Reflecting what you understood someone to mean is a great way to keep both individuals on the same page.

If we put in the work to be an active listener, we can avoid more later that may involve repairing resentment, hurt feelings, and unhappiness.

The counselors at Star Point Counseling Center can help you become a better listener by teaching you techniques and skills that will improve your communication with others.

Call today to schedule an appointment! (813)244-1251

Tips From Clarissa- Equal Minutes.

Parenting can be difficult, especially if your child is a defiant teen. The most popular action for a parent to do when their child is being defiant is to take away the child’s phone, ipod, ipad, laptop, T.V, video games, time with friends, or any other fun extracurricular thing that your child enjoys doing. But doing this is one of the worst things you can do, it turns you into an overbearing parent and also takes away any leverage you may have. Co-Founder and Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Star Point Counseling Center, Clarissa Crystal-Belle recommends using “equal minutes.” When using equal minutes, your child will get to use their electronics or hang with friends for the same amount of time that they work on their homework or do chores. For example, if they perform chores for 30 minutes then they can hang out with their friends for 30 minutes. This ensures that the child doesn’t feel like you are over correcting and overbearing, and at the same time you can make sure that their homework and chores are being done while also monitoring their time with friends or phone use. It’s a win-win situation!

Check back soon for more tips from Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Clarissa Crystal-Belle!

www.starpointcounselingtampa.com

Busy Season Is Approaching!

Our busiest time of the year is closing in on us! All of our counselors are gaining more and more new clients each day, and their schedules are filling up. We want to make sure that you can get the help you need as soon as possible, so we highly recommend that you call to schedule an appointment as soon as you can before we are forced to begin a wait list! We have two locations for your convenience in Brandon and Tampa, and we also accept some major insurance companies and have affordable prices for those who do not have insurance.

Our counselors at the Tampa office are available Monday-Friday 12pm-8pm, and at the Brandon office Monday-Thursday 12pm-8pm and Saturdays anytime by appointment only.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, schedule an appointment while you still can! (813)244-1251, or After hours: (813)479-3510

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We Accept Insurance!

Star Point Counseling Center accepts self-pay and major insurances such as United Behavioral Healthcare, United Health Care, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and others. It would be in your best interest to contact your insurance company to inquire about your eligibility and benefits before scheduling an appointment with us. Some people prefer self pay as it gives them a higher degree of confidentiality.

Don’t have insurance? No worries! We provide a sliding scale based on your annual household income, this scale ranges from $40-$100 per hour session. There are Registered Interns or Mental Health Counselor Interns who you can see for a fee between $40-$60 per hour session. We also provide Life Coaching for individuals who are seeking advice and guidance with school, career, goals, etc.

Call us today or visit our website for more information about services, costs, and to schedule an appointment!

(813)244-1251, 813-479-3510 (after hours)

www.starpointcounselingtampa.com

Why Wait? Seek Help Now.

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Sometimes it’s not obvious to us that we need help, so we wait until we are experiencing paralyzing anxiety, a deep depression, full blown insomnia, or even contemplating self-harm. Many people wait years before seeking help from a professional, but why wait? seeking help early on means we can start the healing process sooner and begin to feel better. Admitting that we need help is not easy, it is human nature to want to avoid suffering or to try and escape it when it arises. We shove our feelings under the rug by living busy lives, we sometimes use drugs and alcohol to numb our feelings, and even dismiss our issues thinking they aren’t that bad. Even if admitting you need help is tough, in the long run therapy can help improve your well-being and life. Therapists help individuals better understand themselves, learn ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression, learn how to adapt to change, and live a more fulfilling life. 

If you find that some of these subtle signs relate to you, it may be time to seek help, don’t wait! 

Physical signs: Persistent headaches and stomach aches, trouble sleeping, change in appetite, change in weight.

Aggressive feelings or actions: Frequently angry or irritable, mood swings, kicking, hitting, throwing or breaking things.

Self-destructive behaviors: Using drugs, drinking, self-harm/injury, driving recklessly.

Negative thoughts and self-talk: “I’m not good enough” “I don’t deserve happiness and love” “What’s the point in trying?” 

The therapists at Star Point Counseling Center can help you work through any concerns you may be having. Don’t wait until it gets worse, seek our help now!

Call today to schedule an appointment and begin your healing process (813)244-1251

 

 

Getting Through the Hard Times.

We all know that life isn’t always easy and everyone goes through hard times. So when it comes to being at our best, building our “resiliency muscle” is crucial. A day will come when we need to use our skills and emotional strength to deal with mistakes, fear, insecurities, and doubt. 

If you are going through a hard time, here are some tips to help you bounce back.

Two is always better than one. Social support is one of the most important things when it comes to getting through the hard times. We all need support, encouragement, and resources to get through it. When life gets you down, surround yourself with uplifting people. 

This too shall pass. When bad things are happening it’s easy to start worrying about the worse case scenario and that your life is ending. Even though some things are hard to be optimistic about, we can still find ways to move forward and make the most of what we do have. 

Be flexible. The more mentally flexible we are the better. Life will take us through unexpected twists and turns, but if we are able to adjust and adapt along the way, we will persevere. Change is inevitable, so instead of resisting it is better to go with the flow and learn how to adapt. 

Don’t forget about yourself. When things get hectic in our lives we begin to forget about ourselves. Taking care of ourselves and maintaining healthy habits is crucial for emotional and physical well-being. Diet, exercise, and sleep can help you maintain emotionally stable. 

Seeking support from a Licensed Mental Health Counselor can also be very beneficial to you. Our Therapist at Star Point Counseling are available to help you reduce stress, relieve pain, and make you feel better.

Call us today! (813)244-1251

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Advice For Blended Families.

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Raising a blended family comes with many ups and downs. When parents get remarried it can be very confusing and frustrating for the children who get stuck in the middle. With patience and a positive attitude, you can achieve a blended family that is filled with love, respect, and peace.  

Here are a few tips to successfully creating a blended family:

Be patient. Just because the parents are in love doesn’t mean the kids will automatically have the same feelings. Getting to know one another, and how to live happily under one roof takes lots of trial and error. 

Make the children feel safe. Children want to feel stability. In a blended family they often feel uncertainty, mistrust, and fear. Reassure them that often, and don’t make them make many changes at once. 

Don’t push them aside. The children are not in their honeymoon phase of love like you are. If you don’t show them love and attention like you do your partner they will feel like they are being pushed to the side and will take it out on the step-parent. 

Don’t force the children. They will learn to play nicely, share, hug, and love each other on their own time, don’t force it.

Set the rules. This is not the time for the children to begin calling the shots. Set limits and boundaries, make sure the children know what is expected of them when it comes to behavior. It may be rough at first but the children will learn to respect the new authority.

Never make your child choose. Never make children choose between, or talk badly about, their “real” mom or dad.

A blended family can be a wonderful thing. Give it time, compassion, and consideration. You might find that your blended family is better than you could have ever imagined.

Visit our website for information on how we can help you make the process of blending a family as smooth as possible! 

www.starpointcounselingtampa.com

Avoid Troubles That New College Students Frequently Face.

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Heading off to college may be the most exciting and scariest thing that you will ever do. Your parents try to tell you what to do and what not to do when you get into college. “Study hard,” “Don’t get into too much partying and drinking,” etc. But what incoming college student wants to listen to their parent’s advice and long lectures of what not to do in college? So here some principles that if new students can follow they’ll generally do just fine, and the best part is it’s not coming from your parent’s mouth.

  • Take self-regulation seriously. Many new college students get into trouble with regulation their sleep, eating, drinking, and exercise habits. Carefully following some rules such as getting 8 hours of sleep, exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week, etc. Self-regulation can go a long way in avoiding physical, behavioral, and mental health related troubles.
  • DO NOT skip class. Other than the occasional sick days which are inevitable, always go to class. Missing a class will make you fall behind and make it much harder to catch up. Also, try sitting front and center in the classroom, this helps avoid distractions and the professors are more likely to engage with you.
  • Utilize student resources. Colleges today offer so many student resources that include academic and personal advising, peer mentoring, disability resources, psychological counseling services, campus ministry, career advising/search, and many more. All of these services are paid for with your tuition, so get your moneys worth!
  • Time is money. Just like money, time must be managed. Many students wait till the end of the day to study or get assignments done and they find themselves dozing off. Spend your free time in between classes productively.

If you are encountering these problems and can’t figure out how to change your patterns, we can help you get back on track! We have many tips and advice about how to stay on track (or get back on it) that can make your transition into college a smooth one.

Call us today for an appointment! (813)244-1251

Building Blocks for Resilience.

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Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, to bounce back and rebound from negative experiences in life. Resilience is a skill set that can be learned and practiced over time. It plays an important role in minimizing the affects of negative events in young people’s lives, therefore it is crucial to help them develop the ability to cope in spite of adversity and achieve positive outcomes.

Here are some ways to build and reinforce resilience: 

  • Activate the relaxation response: Find a quiet place, close your eyes, relax your body, slow your breathing, focus on your breathing, or repeat a word, sound, prayer, phrase, or image on the exhale.
  • Install the good: Savor good experiences and feelings, let them sink into your body and mind, and reshape your brain.
  • Cultivate acceptance: You must learn to differentiate between what you can control and what is beyond your control. When you practice acceptance, you begin to loosen up on how you think your life should be. 
  • Practice gratitude: Making gratitude a habit increases well-being and promotes resilience. Train your mind to pay attention to the opportunities for gratitude in your daily life.
  • Build relationships: Having support and help from friends and family who will listen to you strengthens resilience.
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook: Having an optimistic outlook enables you to expect good things to happen in your life. Think about what you want in life, instead of worrying about your fears. 

Resilience is a skill set that must be learned and practiced. We can teach you tips and tools for building and strengthening your resilience.

Call us today to schedule an appointment! (813)244-1251

Skip Criticism, Give Feedback Instead!

Lets be honest, criticism stings and nobody likes it. Yet it is essential to be able to honestly tell someone how you feel and what you are thinking when having a relationship with them. There is a far better way to tell someone about their mistakes, and we call it feedback.

Here’s a few technical points to keep in mind when you want to give feedback instead of criticism:

Criticism complains, feedback explains. Instead of just complaining about the mistake they made, explain to them why it matters and what they can try doing differently next time. 

Feedback can be softened with a when-youWhen you came late to our noon lunch date there were already crowds lining up for tables at the restaurant we like so by the time we finished eating I was late returning to work.” 

Focus on sharing your own feelings and concerns. I-statements, which can be coupled with a when-you, keep the subject yourself. The feedback then is about how you felt and your concerns rather than about the person whose behavior was problematic.  

Keep the tone friendly. Try to stay away from irritated, critical, or judgmental tones.

Focus on solutions. Try focusing on finding a solution to the problem instead of dwelling on what they did wrong.

 

The therapists at Star Point Counseling Center can help you learn better tools for communicating and getting your point across in an effective way. Visit our website for more information on our services and how we can help!  www.starpointcounselingtampa.com