Coping With The Loss of a Loved One.


Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member may be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. When we lose a spouse, sibling or parent our grief can be particularly intense. Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression. The sadness typically diminishes in intensity as time passes, but grieving is an important process in order to overcome these feelings and continue to embrace the time you had with your loved one. Human beings are naturally resilient, considering most of us can endure loss and then continue on with our own lives. But some people may struggle with grief for longer periods of time and feel unable to carry out daily activities. 

Grieving individuals may find it useful to use some of the following strategies to help come to terms with loss:

  • Talk about the death of your loved one with friends and colleagues in order to understand what happened and remember your friend or family member. Denying death is an easy way to isolate yourself, and will frustrate your support system in the process.
  • Accept your feelings. People experience all kinds of emotions after the death of someone close. Sadness, anger, frustration and even exhaustion are all normal.
  • Take care of yourself and your family. Eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest help us get through each day and move forward.
  • Reach out and help others dealing with the loss. Helping others has the added benefit of making you feel better as well. Sharing stories of the deceased can help everyone cope.
  • Remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones. Possibilities include donating to a favorite charity of the deceased, framing photos of fun times, passing on a family name to a baby or planting a garden in memory. What you choose is up to you, as long as it allows you honor that unique relationship in a way that feels right to you.

If you feel stuck or overwhelmed by your emotions, it may be helpful to talk with a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional who can help you cope with your feelings and find ways to get back on track.

Call us today so we can help you begin your healing process. (813)244-1251 and visit our website for more information on how we can help.





Coping Strategies For Reducing Social Anxiety.


The shakes and cold sweats many of us feel when we talk in front of a group are just one vivid example of social anxiety–an excessive fear of being judged negatively. People with severe social anxiety have few friends, drop out of school, may even be unable to work. Milder forms–which are far more common–take their toll in missed opportunities for advancement, lonely evenings and just plain frustration. 

Here are some must-have coping strategies for social anxiety: 

1. Realize anxiety is natural: Anxiety is the normal response to perceived danger – the body and mind rev up in readiness for fight or flight by producing adrenaline. This is useful. Without adrenaline, we can’t perform at our best.

2. Anxiety isn’t reality: Social anxiety feeds on thoughts that exact exaggerate danger, foresee dire consequences and attribute negative judgments to others. Thinking this way is just a habit and like most habits, it can be changed.

3. Try relabeling: Symptoms of anxiety and excitement are almost identical. If you feel revved up and think, “I’m getting anxious”, it creates a destructive spiral. But if you think of it as “getting excited,” you’ll feel more prepared and capable.

4. Breathe away anxiety: One of the worst things about anxiety is the feeling that once it starts, it will build uncontrollably. Breathing slowly and deeply from your abdomen eases anxiety.

5. Shift your focus: Anxiety turns your attention to your racing heart beat or your shaking hands, try focusing your attention on the task at hand. If anxiety continues to build try focusing on the pattern of the carpet or texture of the papers in your hand. Such a shift in focus will interrupt the anxiety cycle and let you attend to the business at hand.

6. Be willing to experience discomfort: Some things are worth doing even if you’re anxious. You will be amazed at what you can do while still feeling a lot of unpleasant sensations.

7. Tolerate Uncertainty: This is a tough one. Most people like things to be clear cut–to know where things stand. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always cooperate You must eventually face the ugly truth that you can’t control everything.

For more information about how to cope with anxiety visit our website at 

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Is Your Anger Destructive?

ImageAnger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.

If you are having a hard time controlling your anger here are some simple steps that can help calm down angry feelings:

-Breathe slowly and deeply: breathe from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
-Count to 10: Counting to 10 gives you time to cool down so you can think more clearly and overcome the impulse to lash out.
-Practice calm words: Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax,” “take it easy.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
-Use imagery: visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
-Meditation or yoga: slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.


If you feel that your anger is really getting out of control, if it is having an impact on your relationships and on important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to handle it better. Our licensed mental health professionals at Star Point Counseling Center can work with you in developing a range of techniques for changing your thinking and your behavior.

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

3 Signs Your Relationship is in Trouble

relationship trouble

In all relationships there are ebbs and flows; times when you feel closer and times when you feel more distant. You may go through periods when things are going well, and then find yourselves stuck in conflicts and misunderstandings.

Recognizing that there are problems is the first step toward finding out what you need to do address these problems and nurture your relationship out of troubled waters. Below are three significant indicators that your relationship is in trouble.

1. Prolonged feeling of distance between you and your partner:  All couples go through some periods in which they feel more distant. However, if over time you feel that you are drifting apart, this is a sign that the relationship is not going well.

2. Repeated conflicts that don’t get resolved:  You try to talk about things, but you never seem to get anywhere. It feels like you are stuck in the same argument, and you are feeling consistently misunderstood.

3. Diminished sexual connection:  If you are in a long period of little or no sexual activity, this may be a sign that things are not going well. Keep in mind that it is normal to have times when you are feeling less connected sexually. But prolonged, infrequent sexual connection may indicate a general diminished affection between the two of you.

If you find yourself feeling like you fit into one or more of these three categories, begin looking more closely at what is happening. Here at Star Point Counseling Center, we can help you identify the core issues and assist you in addressing them.

CALL US TODAY! (813) 244-1251

You can also visit our website and follow us on twitter @starpointcenter

Dealing With Depression?


If you are affected by depression, you are not just sad or upset; you have a condition that involves intense feeling or persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness, together with physical problems such as loss of energy, and physical aches and pains. Depression is an illness and you need support to help fight it.

We are here to help, call us today! (813) 244-1251

Five Communication Tools You Need for Difficult Conversations

It’s virtually inevitable that even the best close relationship will involve some degree of conflict, at least some of the time. When that happens, not only is it stressful, but if not handled well, it can sow the seeds for that relationship’s eventual dissolution.

Because interpersonal conflict is such an unpleasant emotional state, most of us are programmed to avoid it.  If you’ve been subjected to undue criticism from others, you may be particularly loath to get involved in arguments that can turn ugly. Studies of long=term relationship show, however, that avoidance may be an even worse way to resolve conflict. It’s almost impossible to resolve a conflict with your loved one by staying away from it completely. Whether it’s in the area of finances, household tasks, health habits, child rearing, or sex, you’re eventually going to have to have one of those difficult conversations in which you try to resolve your differences of opinion.

Armed with these five conflict resolution strategies, you’ll be able to take the steps needed to get past what may seem like completely irreconcilable differences:

1. Recognize that avoidance won’t work.

Adhering to a cooling-off period may settle your emotions enough to approach the problem later. However, when couples constantly put their disagreements “on pause” they run the risk of never having the chance to resolve the underlying dispute. Imagine that your partner has what you find to be an annoying habit of pocketing all the extra change in the house and spending it on Powerball tickets every week. Not only does this strike you as a waste of money, but it’s an inconvenience for you to be unable to find a quarter when you’ve run out of parking meter money. However, it seems so trivial that you say nothing at all until, one day, without any warning, you explode in a fit of rage. Now that this has escalated to an intense level, other unresolved issues might be dragged into the debate, and what started as a relatively minor difference leads to a large-scale battle that’s much harder to resolve. Instead of letting the small annoyances continue to irk you, it’s far better to come up with a strategy, using one of the tips below, to start the conversation in a more rational way.

2. Leave “but” sentences out of it.

In a “but” sentence, you try to soften the blow of bad news by prefacing it with good news.  “I loved that meatloaf you cooked for me tonight, but…”  Following the “but” is the critical comment such as “it could have been cooked a little more.” The hopes you raised with the pre-but phrase get dashed with the post-but conclusion.

In fact, many people use the “good news/bad news” tactic to help someone feel better about information that is certain to be upsetting. “The good news is that you’ll get to keep your tooth, but the bad news is that you’ll need a root canal,” says the dentist. In fact, I’d argue that we’re culturally conditioned to expect something bad almost every time someone uses the tone of voice that starts the “but” sentence. “I really like the way you’ve moved the furniture [pause]” may trigger an anxious wait as the listener expects the inevitable “but” to follow: “But it seems a little more crowded than it was before.” When the “but” doesn’t come, you’re pleasantly surprised. However, because this happens so rarely, the pause that follows a compliment can create stress when you’re the recipient of this kind of communication. After all, how many times has someone said to you, “Which would you rather hear first—the good news or the bad news?” Most people would rather get the bad news out of the way.

Rather than create this stress in your partner, then, consider phrasing your comments (positive and negative) in a direct manner, ending with the “good news” rather than starting with it: “I thought the meatloaf was a bit undercooked, but on the whole, I really found it to be tasty.” Now that you’re done dispensing the bad news, you can leave your partner with a positive bottom line.

In a truly difficult conversation, the stress of anticipating a “but” is even greater. It’s one thing to be talking about meatloaf, but quite another to be discussing the future of your entire relationship. By putting your concerns out there right away, you don’t leave your partner in suspense while he or she waits for the real truth to emerge.

3.  Prepare the way for this difficult conversation.

Another reason not to avoid conflict is that when your feelings inevitably burst out in an uncontrolled way, neither you nor your partner will have had a chance to prepare mentally or emotionally. When something is bothering you, whether it’s a trivial housekeeping concern or a more serious relationship dispute, it’s only fair to provide your partner with an alert that there’s something you wish to discuss. How you phrase this is exceptionally important. Start by announcing what the conversation will be about, and make it clear that it’s your feelings or point of view that’s at issue: “I’d like to discuss my feelings about how often we’re having sex,” versus “I’d like to talk about the fact that we’re not having sex very often.”

Because you’re not involved in the heat of the moment, where you’ve just had a big argument about something else (the coins around the house or the meatloaf), you’ll be able to say this kindly and reassuringly rather than in a demanding and accusatory fashion. Then agree with your partner on what would be a good time and place to have this conversation. If your partner is in a hurry to get it out of the way, then make sure you’re emotionally and logistically able to do so. In other words, if you both have to wake up at 5 a.m. the next morning, you might want to wait until after dinner the next day instead of at 11 p.m. the night before.

4. Agree on common goals.

In any negotiation, the outcome is much more satisfying to everyone if all parties decide on what they would find an acceptable set of results.  If one of you wants the relationship to end and the other does not, then agreeing on that outcome may take up the bulk of the negotiation. However, even in this case, you can both agree on the common goals of allowing each person to “save face,” or maintaining self-respect. Or you may agree that you want to make life as manageable as possible for your children, if you have any, and other family members or friends.

It’s important, however, not to enter into your discussion having a predetermined outcome in your own mind (“I need to move out by the end of the month”). A common goal is different than a common notion of what the result should be. The more emotionally laden the conversation, the more important it is that you agree on goals that preserve each other’s emotional well-being.

5. Stay optimistic.

Feeling that the situation is hopeless is an almost certain way to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you’ve decided that all is lost, you’ll invariably interpret everything your partner says with a strong dose of pessimism. Your partner may wish to discuss his or her feelings about having more (or less) sex, but it doesn’t mean that the sexual aspect of your relationship is doomed.

As you and your partner work through the details of your difficult conversation, reminding yourself that you’re in this together can help both of you remain hopeful about the end result. Even in the worst-case scenario, where the conversation ends in a breakup, by having agreed on common goals of maintaining each other’s self-regard, you’ll know that you won’t be severely injured in the process.

On the other hand, it is entirely plausible that by setting the stage for your conversation in steps 1-4 above, you’ll be able to resolve the dispute in a way that strengthens your bonds for whatever else will come your way. Having learned how to get through this challenge, the ones that await you will seem more manageable.

To summarize: As you can most likely gauge from these five communication tips, the process of successful conflict resolution is very similar to the way we can best handle the stresses we feel in other areas of life by using planned, problem-focused coping. In an experimental test of a DVD-based couples counseling method, a team headed by University of Zurich psychologist Guy Bodenmann (2014) found that by couples could benefit in their relationship satisfaction by working through a five-hour instructional DVD that taught them basic cognitive-behavioral approaches to dealing with conflict and communication. To be sure, the couples (particularly the men) who needed the most help also improved the most. However, the bottom line was that by learning to work their way through conflict in a rational, respectful, and optimistic manner, couples could enjoy a significant improvement in their levels of overall relationship satisfaction.

The good news about this method is that … don’t worry, there’s no “but” to come. Couples can and do learn to work out their differences, allowing them to achieve personal and mutual fulfillment for years to come.

Visit our website today to learn more about how our counselors can help you with communication in your relationship:, or

Monica Gomez

Star Point Counseling Center would like to welcome Monica Gomez to our Star Point Team. Monica earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of South Florida and wants to continue her education to acquire her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling. Monica will be working as receptionist and billing while working on her M.A. in Mental Health Counseling.