What is Anxiety

All organisms have been given a fight or flight response mechanism that protects and preserves them. It is an adaptive function placed in us for the sole purpose of self-preservation. Anxiety, in a sense is an ally. When we experience a danger or a threat, the fight or flight response kicks in, adrenaline and other chemicals are activated and physical symptoms occur, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increase in blood pressure, etc. For most people these debilitating symptoms taper off and the body is restored back to it’s normal state. However, for some individuals, the adrenaline is not metabolized as easily and it may linger in the body longer. Hence, we need to look at anxiety as a physiological condition that needs behavioral adjusting, as opposed to a psychiatric illness.




Star Point Counseling Center

Why Is Therapy So Expensive?

Many people struggle to find talk-based therapy that’s covered by their insurance plans. Of all practicing medical professionals, therapists are the least likely to take insurance. Only 55 percent of therapists accept insurance plans, compared to 89 percent of other health care providers, like cardiologists, dermatologists and podiatrists, according to a 2014 study.

That’s a big problem, since approximately 1 in 5 Americans will experience some sort of mental health disorder in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness.  Many will also seek counseling for divorce or grief.

Treatment is highly individualized, but experts agree that talk therapy is the gold standard for treating psychiatric problems. A 2015 study revealed that cognitive behavioral therapies were just as effective as antidepressants for treating depression.

So why is therapy so unaffordable for so many people? And why don’t more mental health professionals work with third party payers? It turns out several factors contribute to making therapy unaffordable ― many outside individual clinicians’ control.

Insurance systems don’t support therapists’ diagnoses.

Poor insurance coverage for therapy is largely a reflection of how society views mental health.

Insurance companies tend to see things more from a medical perspective ― where if you get sick, for example, then you take a blood test, they figure out what is wrong with you, they give you a medication and then you are all better.

But with mental health a lot of times what we are trying to do is preventative maintenance-type work, and it makes it a lot more difficult to justify medical necessity with insurance companies.


Even when insurance companies consider a mental health diagnosis a valid billable condition, the coverage may only be temporary. Insurance companies do not cover marriage counseling, relationship counseling, family counseling and grief and loss.

More and more insurance plans we see either have a high co pay or a high deductible. So technically, people do have mental health coverage, but they are paying for most or all of the cost out of pocket anyway.

All of the major insurance companies are closed to enrollment for Licensed Therapists in the Tampa Bat area, including Brandon, St. Pete and Tampa. We receive calls all the time from potential new clients complaining they can not find a therapist in their insurance network.

Another thing insurance companies do that most people don’t know about is sub contract the mental health portion of a policy to another insurance company. I had an instance recently where a client had Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance but Cigna actually covers the mental health portion of the policy. In most cases of sub contracting the mental health portion of a policy, they sub contract to a much smaller insurance company that pays extremely low and has very few Mental Health Providers in network. A good example is Hillsborough County School Teachers and Employees. They have Humana for the medical part, but they have MH NET for the mental health part of their policy. MH NET requires authorization, treatment plans to get authorization every 8 sessions, you have to fill out a paper form that they “conveniently never receive” and they pay $40 per session. Therapists literally spend more time collecting their $40 than they do therapy with the client.

Therapists honestly can’t afford to accept insurance. 

The gap between a therapist’s hourly fee and the reimbursement rates they receive from insurance companies can be massive.

I’ve seen it lower than $50 a session. We charge $120 a session, so that would be a major blow in terms of income for us.

We can’t sustain our practices when that kind of value is put on mental health.

While $120 per session sounds steep,  it helps cover rent, the cost of business and malpractice insurance, advertising, administrative staff, office equipment and credit card processing fees. Many therapists have also accrued massive student debt. Therapists have to get a Master’s Degree, at minimum, then do a 2 year Registered Internship and pass a State Board Exam to become a Licensed Therapist in Florida.

Therapists are health care professionals that all have master’s degrees or higher. Many have doctorates, medical degrees, and [have] graduated from specialized institutes for the teaching of psychotherapy.

Lawyers, accountants and architects generally make $120-$400 per hour or more. One should expect to pay the same for therapy from a competent, highly trained professional.

Therapists are in a no-win position. Therapists are almost forced to charge the patient directly because they are not able to be reimbursed at equitable rates as their counterparts that have M.D. or D.O. behind their name.

More equitable rates across all insurance companies would allow patients to have greater choice and access in terms of their health care decisions.

Filling out insurance paperwork is a full-time job.

It’s a Catch-22: To keep overhead low, many therapists don’t hire staff or assistants. But without them, the job of working with insurance companies is overwhelming.

Many people who work in mental health don’t have the volume of patients that primary care [physicians] might have. They might see seven or eight patients max in a day, where a primary care doctor might see as many as 40 patient’s a day and also have dedicated staff who handle billing and who are very familiar with what the requirements are with all the different payers out there.

Submitting a bill to an insurance company can involve jumping through an array of hoops including justifying your services to an insurance representative, providing status report updates and getting on the phone with providers to track down late payments.

This can be particularly complicated because not everyone who sees a therapist has a diagnosable mental illness.

Common reasons for coming to therapy, like couples counseling and grief counseling, are typically not covered by insurance.

We do try to provide lower cost therapy at Star Point Counseling Center by utilizing a sliding scale based on household income. This way people who are needing therapy can get the help they are looking for without going into debt.

Please visit us at starpointcounselingtampa.com or call us at 813-244-1251 if you have insurance questions.


Couples Counseling at Star Point Counseling Center

When you come to see a therapist at Star Point Counseling Center in Tampa and Brandon for Couples Counseling these are some of the things we will work on together with you.

Identify negative patterns that are hindering the quality of your relationship & friendship.

Learn how to stop blaming each other so you can work through problems without power struggles.

Recognize the ’cause & effect’ patterns in your relationship.

Find healthy ways to communicate and relate to each other, which will strengthen the quality of your partnership.

Get through the difficult phase when ‘the business of love’ (daily stressors) interferes with romance and connection.

Reconnect to the love and passion of your earlier relationship.

If you want to work on your relationship call Star Point Counseling Center at 813-244-1251. We have offices in Brandon and Tampa.

#couples counseling, #relationship counseling, #marriage counseling

Barriers to Effective Communication

Barriers to Effective Communication Barriers to communication are things that prevent people from understanding a message, or understanding it the same way. Some common barriers to communication include: • Poor listening skills. Many people consider speaking the most important element of communication. However, good listening skills are critical to effective communication. They help you better understand the information other people are trying to convey, improve your rapport with others, and improve your problem solving skills. • Language barriers. The words you use to communicate may create a barrier to communication. This can be as basic as communicating with someone who doesn’t speak the same language, or a subtle as interpreting the words you use in a different way. It can also include poor use of language by the communicator (e.g., using words incorrectly, poor grammar), a lack of understanding of the language or context (e.g., a non-technical person trying to Communication Skills for Healthy Relationships communicate about a technical issue), using colloquialisms or jargon, using ambiguous word choices, etc. • Emotional barriers. There is a greater potential for misunderstanding when emotions are involved. For example, a sender who is upset or angry may not be able to effectively communicate his or her feelings and ideas. A receiver in a similar state may ignore or distort what the other person is saying. • Environmental barriers. This can include a number of factors including, interruptions, distractions, physical environment issues (lighting, noise, comfort), talking too softly, physical distance, a physical barrier between sender and recipient, etc. • Timing barriers. The timing of a communication can affect it’s ability to be understood. For example, there may not be enough time to communicate the message fully, or it may be too early or too late in the day for someone to give the communication his or her full attention. • Perceptual barriers. Each person experiences events—including communications—in a way that is unique to him or her. A sender will communicate in a way that makes sense in his or her reality. A receiver understands a communication in a similar manner. However, these two realities may not be the same, so the message may be perceived differently, hindering communication. Variables including age, education, gender, social and economic status, cultural background, temperament, health, religion, political beliefs, etc. can alter perceptions and create barriers to communication.



Why Me

Rather than thinking of the deficits and of the things that you do not have, how would your life change if you were to wake up tomorrow more grateful?  Would you be able to point out the things in your life that you are grateful for that sometimes go unnoticed?  What about the people in your life that you are grateful for, have you told them lately?  Would you tell them?

As a society we get so caught up in the daily battles with ourselves and others that we forget all of the beautiful priceless “things” around us.  Rather than re-directing ourselves to view from a more grateful perspective, we get caught up in the “why me” or the sarcastic “great” mindset.

What are your priceless pieces in your life? Are you able to appreciate them?  When was the last time you said “thank you” to someone and really meant it?  The words “I appreciate you” or “I am grateful for…” do not come out of our mouths very often and yet those words can take you so far and change your whole day and possibly make someone else’s.

Waking up in the morning and focusing on the things in your life that you are grateful for is one of the first steps to being healthy.  Healthy minds are grateful for the beauty around them and they are able to recognize and appreciate that beauty.

Do you recognize the beauty that is all around you?  Is your picture of life a little muddy and making it hard to focus in on the beautiful things and beings in your life?  Give us a call/text and let’s figure it out together.  Life is too short to not be grateful.

Seriously, how would your day look?

Star Point Counseling Center


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Just Be

Be in the now. We get so caught up in our daily responsibilities of life and trying to prove to others that we are mature, responsible, and worth it that we lose track of  “where” we are. Fully embrace the moment.  Embrace the people you are with.

How exactly do you “live in the moment?” Start by feeling your toes in our shoes.  Feel each step that you take.  Wiggle your fingers.  Feel your arms. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, do not think about anything else except what you are doing at that moment in time.  When you are with your significant other, “be” with them. When you are with your kids, “be” with them.  At work? “Be” at work.

Don’t forget to take time to be grateful for the moments that you are in.

Just be in the now.


Would you like to learn how to get to that point?

Call or text for an appointment today:

Star Point Counseling Center


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Perceived Communication

Has anyone ever told you that you mean well but you come across as something different? Is there a certain group or type of person that tells you this? Then you may be giving off a vibe in your communications and are not aware of it.

We sometimes have women who come in and communicate differently to men than they do to women and they do not realize they are doing it. This is also true for some men as well towards women.  It can be because they had a verbally abusive father, were traumatized by a man or physically abused by a man. This is also true for some men as well towards women.

When this happens the communication is negative and defensive thus breaking down any form of assertive communication that may exist.

If you feel this is happening to you then call Star Point Counseling Center at 813-244-1251 and set an appointment to see one of our therapists to help you work through your perceived communication.

Juggling Act

Have you gotten caught up?  Have you gotten so wrapped up in “adulting” that you have forgotten what “fun” looks like?  So many people nowadays are so caught up in their mortgages, bills, work, and getting ahead that they have forgotten that all work and no play makes a dull boy.  To live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life we must be balanced.  While work, bills, and getting ahead at work is an important part of you… it is not all of you.

You are more than work.  You are more than bills.  You are more than a title or a number at work.   Your family, friends, and having fun in life is also a part of you.  When you begin to feel stressed out and overwhelmed take a deliberate breath and breathe in all the light, love, and goodness.  Breathe out all the stress, anxiety, and darkness.  Quit trying to one up the next guy and be proud of yourself, not prideful. Appreciate where you are and all that you have achieved and overcome.  Now, have some fun. Give yourself permission to enjoy your life.  Put your phone and your electronics away.  Stop and smell the flowers.  Schedule your fun time deliberately and then hold onto that fun appointment and don’t cancel and try not to have to reschedule it.  You deserve it.  Your family and friends deserve it.  Give them the healthiest version of you by learning to balance.

Call or text us today to schedule an appointment and we will teach you how to balance.

Star Point Counseling



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United, If We Choose to Be

     Regardless of the political perspective that we all view from, this political season has been stressful.  As a matter of fact, 52% of Americans reported it as being stressful, according to the American Psychological Association (2016).  Americans have found themselves feeling “anxious, stressed out, and worried.” Where does this come from? Why do we feel this  way?  The unknown is frightening and, for some, the facts of what is being done is frightening.    How do we continue on while feeling this way?  With the rise in hate crimes, protests, discussions and accusations of sexual abuse, walls, and health insurance it’s no wonder that many of us may feel that we are caught in the middle of a mental health crisis.

Research from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (2015) reports that one in five women will be the victim of sexual assault at some point in their lives so it is no wonder that so many women feel that they need to step up and do something to “protect” others.  Then on the other hand, we have women that do not see themselves as “victims” and do not need other women to protect them and for some reason it only brings about hate.  Why? For some reason, people have not realized or have forgotten that it is okay to disagree.

We live in America where we have freedom of speech, but we must understand that while we are free to do as we choose, we are not free of the consequences that may come from those choices.  America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. There is room for all of us to speak and to be heard, we do not have to spew hate towards one another just because our perspectives differ.  If both sides are saying they are trying to help or protect the others, then why are they tearing them down to try to make their point?  Are we really that convinced that our side is so perfectly correct that there is not any compromising to be had?  Are we not even willing to stop and listen to the argument and take some time to reflect without trying to prove why our side is right?  Rather than coming back with an argument, can we not try to stop and think of the pros and cons together?  We may be surprised.

We are only able to see the world through our own life experiences, but if we each step out and put ourselves in one another’s shoes for a moment we may end up pleasantly surprised at the empathy that we have for one another.  Or at the very least, realize that we don’t really hate each other.

With the election and inauguration ceremony of the new president, fear has come from every angle.  For those that are pro President Trump and those that are against him, let’s unite and work through our fears of what is going on together.  Let’s listen to one another from a loving and understanding perspective.  Understand that the opposing side’s perspective is being fueled by fear.  Regardless of the side that you stand on, we must teach ourselves to listen and to see though different lenses if we have any chance of truly being great again.  Cast aside your doubt and come with an open heart and an open mind.  If both sides are truly trying to help, then let’s help each other and quit tearing each other down.  Don’t be fooled to believe that the “other side” is against you.  Fear is what is fueling both sides.  United we stand and divided we fall.

If you feel that you are stressed and overwhelmed due to the current circumstances and situation of our country, give us a call.  Let’s work through our fears and discuss ways to cope and manage stress so that we can get back to being happy.  Life is too short to be anything else.  Let’s not live in fear.

(813) 244-1251



(n.d.). (2016). APA Survey Reveals 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than     Half of Americans Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/10/presidential-election-stress.aspx


Burnett-Zeigler, I. E. (2016). How Donald Trump Affects Therapy Patients. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://time.com/4583628/donald-trump-therapy-patients/


Statistics about sexual violence. (2015). National Sexual Violence Resource Center. http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf

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I Promise….

When you were younger, do you remember thinking about what your future would look like? Do you remember deciding what your future spouse would look like, how many children and pets you would have, where you would live, and even what you would be doing as a profession?  Yes, those days were fun.  We were able to imagine ourselves being great and having a wonderful life.  I think that for most people only good thoughts were thought about because  I don’t recall ever hearing anyone mention how they would parent their children.  I also don’t think that I ever heard anyone discuss what their lives would look like once they decided to not have anymore children or even how that would feel.

The truth is, that while living the dreams of our past’s future we may have messed up along the way.  We may have gotten so out of touch with what our real goals in life once were that we began to lose ourselves and we may have even lost sight of those precious dreams.  Did your life turn out the way that you pictured it? If not, that’s okay, things don’t always work out exactly as planned.  Okay, maybe never, but still… that’s okay.  The real question is: “Are you happy?”  Are you happy with the choices that you have made for your children?  Are you happy with the relationship between your children and your spouse?  Are you happy with how you are treated and how you treat others?

Regardless of the details of the future that you had planned, does it “feel” the way that you always wanted it to?  Think back to the promises that you made for child when he/she was born, when you first gazed into those beautiful eyes and made those promises of what you would always be for your child.  Are you fulfilling those promises that you made?

It’s not too late.  Start a new path.  Fulfill those promises.  “I promise to always be an understanding father and listen to you when you need someone to talk to.”  “I promise to love you unconditionally.”  “I promise to always give you my best.”  We all have bad days.  We all make mistakes.  But, it does not mean that for the rest of our lives each day has to be “bad.”  Get up and dust that dirt off your shoulders.  Allow your brokenhearted teenager to cry on your shoulder.  Be understanding that your child may have just had a bad day… like you.  It happens.  We have bad days.  Who do you have to talk to that will listen to you?  Who does your child have? Be to them who you needed when you were younger.  It’s not too late.

Star Point Counseling

Call or text for an appointment:  (813) 244-1251


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