RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Diagnosing an Unhealthy Relationship.


When someone loves you it may be hard to distinguish if it is a healthy love or a tainted one. Here are six key differences:

  1. Giving freely vs. giving to get. Real love is the desire to give to your partner without expecting something in return. When love is tainted, giving is just a way of getting something in return.
  2. Knowing each other vs. changing each other. Healthy love is getting to know each other more and more every day. Tainted love is trying to change someone into something they aren’t, without caring who you are.
  3. Privacy vs. exposure. Real love creates areas in the relationship that are private, while tainted love makes your weaknesses the butt of jokes and details of private, intimate events are shared with anyone.
  4. Repair vs. revenge. If your love is real then arguments become learning experiences and opportunities to grow. Tainted love involves blaming, revenge and getting even.
  5. Shared goals vs. selfishness. Healthy love involves making goals together and encouraging each other to reach their goals and dreams. Unhealthy love asks you to sacrifice your dreams.
  6. Desire vs. guilt. Healthy love creates the desire to get to know your partner, spend time with them, make them happy, and fulfill their needs. Tainted love, instead, demands things and uses guilt to get what it wants.

There are many ways to differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. If you are interested to learn more or if you recognize that you are in an unhealthy relationship and may not know what the next step should be, call us today!

Star Point Counseling Center (813)244-1251 

Cognitive Distortions.

images (1)

Cognitive distortions are irrational and exaggerated thought patterns. It is simply our mind convincing us of something that isn’t actually true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions. We all engage in these distortions from time to time and they control our lives and emotions. Individuals with or without mental health concerns are susceptible, but individuals who suffer from severe depression, psychotic disorders, or mood disorders can be more susceptible to these distortions of thinking than others.

There are multiple distortions that we engage in, here are 7 of the most common ones:

  • Polarized thinking. Everything is black or white, all or nothing. It is difficult to be flexible and open your mind to alternatives. You are either perfect or a failure, there are no shades of gray.
  • Filtering. This is when you dwell on all the negatives of a situation and ignore all the positive. This usually occurs when you already have a negative perception about the situation.
  • Overgeneralization. This occurs when we make a conclusion based on one single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again.
  • Personalization. This distortion is when you think that everything someone says or does is about you personally. For example, the elderly man driving in front of you going 5 mph under the speed limit is just purposely trying to slow you down and get on your nerves.
  • Catastrophizing. Thinking that a situation is more negative than it actually is. You tend to exaggerate the reality of situations without considering the fact that perhaps the situation is not as bad as you thought it was.
  • Jumping to conclusions. Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. For example, your husband falls asleep on the couch one night and you begin to think he is mad at you and wants a divorce.
  • Entitlement beliefs. The belief that you have the right to have, do, or get something. When someone feels entitled, there is little room for consideration of others thoughts, behaviors, or feelings. It can be very damaging to interpersonal relationships.

By learning to correctly identify this kind of irrational thinking, a person can then answer the negative thinking back, and refute it. By refuting the negative thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors can help you learn how to recognize this distorted thinking and how to avoid it. Cognitive distortions are one of the most common reasons for depression, anxiety, and lack of communication in relationships. Get the help you deserve!


Nervous about your first counseling session? Here is what you can expect!

Going to counseling can be scary and nerve racking, but knowing what to expect can help ease those nerves and help you get better results. There is nothing to be scared or nervous about, your therapist is here to help you get through whatever it is you may be going through.

In your first session your therapist will ask you certain questions about you and your life. This information will help them make an initial assessment of your situation and help them begin creating a treatment plan. Some of the questions your therapist might ask include: why you are seeking therapy, your personal history (family,upbringing, etc.), your current situation, and your current symptoms. These questions will help them better understand what is going on.

Counseling is a team effort and requires active participation on your end. Here are some things you can do to make your first session as successful as possible: answer questions openly, honestly, and don’t be afraid to discuss your feelings, be prepared to describe what and how you are feeling, and make sure to ask questions about the process or anything you may have concerns about.

Therapy is not a quick fix, it is a process that takes time and patience. With active participation on your part and a strong relationship with your counselor, you will be very successful at resolving your problems.

Call us today for more information about the counseling process and what to expect! (813)244-1251

Myths About Stress.


Everyone deals with stress at one point or another in their lives. Stress is inevitable and there is no way of getting around it.  Many of us don’t understand the basics about stress and how it impacts our lives. If we can learn how to reduce and cope with stress, we can live a happier, better, and longer life.

Here are some of the myths about stress:

  • Myth 1: Stress is the same for everybody- MYTH. Everyone experiences stress differently, what one person may find stressful another person may not. Everyone experiences, responds, and copes with stress differently.
  • Myth 2: Stress is bad for us- MYTH. Stress in small amounts is not bad for us. The key is to learn how to manage stress, managing it can make us productive and happy.
  • Myth 3: Stress is everywhere and inevitable- FACT. Lots of things are inevitable, like the possibility of getting into an accident every time we drive, but that doesn’t stop us. All you can do is plan your life so the stress does not overwhelm you.
  • Myth 4: The most popular stress reducing techniques are the best ones- MYTH. A stress management technique that may be popular to one person may not even work for another. Everybody’s lives, situations, and reactions are different. You must find the technique that works best for you.
  • Myth 5: No symptoms, no stress- MYTH. An absence of symptoms does not mean an absence of stress. Although many people experience symptoms in a physical way, others may not have any physical symptoms at all.
  • Only major symptoms require attention- MYTH. No symptoms should be ignored or pushed to the side. If you wait until you start experiencing major symptoms of stress, it may be too late. A change in lifestyle to deal with minor symptoms can be less costly in the long run.

A Mental Health Counselor can teach you tools and techniques for managing and coping with stress. Don’t wait until you are experiencing major symptoms, get help as soon as possible. Reducing stress helps you feel better and leads to a better life.

Call us today for more information! (813)244-1251 

Being An Active Listener.


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

Reignite Your Relationship!


The newness of a relationship is what sparks passion. After you learn about your partners likes, dislikes, their routines, their hobbies, and so on, that passion seems to die down some. But not to worry, there are many things you can that require little time or money that you can do to get that fire back into your relationship!

  • Try new things- Activities, foods, etc. Trying new things sparks excitement, and passion.
  • Add the element of surprise or mystery- Little gestures go a long way. Get flowers sent to your partner’s office, or wisk them away for a quick lunch.
  • Kick up your adrenaline and arousal- Arousal-generating activities can include exercising, going on a vigorous hike or a roller-coaster ride, parachuting out of a plane.
  • Take a vacation, just the two of you- Getting away is important, the key is to spend time together away from the home.
  • Touch more often- Touch produces arousal, comfort and support both physiologically and psychologically.
  • Play- In the midst of busy lives, we forget to have fun.

When reigniting your relationship, the key is to shake things up consistently. Newness, excitement, and mystery increases passion in a relationship.

Visit our website for more information on how we can help you reignite your relationship!

Employee Updates: Vickey Sboukis and Steve Foster.

Star Point Counseling Center has welcomed a few new employees within the past few months, Vickey Sboukis and Steve Foster have both been great additions to our counseling team! Below is some information so you can get to know a little bit more about them.

Vickey Sboukis, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

  • Vickey received her B.A. in 1987 from University of Florida, and she received her M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling in 1990 from University of Florida. Vickey has extensive experience helping couples, individuals, children and teens with depression, stress, anxiety, marriage, relationship and family counseling.
 Steve Foster, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern
  • Steve received his M.A. in Mental Health in 2012 from Troy University, and also has a M.A. in Business Administration from Touro University International and an M.A. in International Relations from Troy University. Steve spent 20 years in the U.S. Army as an Executive Officer. He has experience working with children, couples, teens, family and individuals. Steve has experience helping people with depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, anger management, family dynamics and substance abuse.

Vickey and Steve are both currently accepting new clients at the Tampa and Brandon locations. They accept self-pay, and prices are based on a sliding scale that ranges between $40- $100.

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

Visit this blog and our sister blog for more employee updates in the future!

The Benefits Of Being Altruistic.


Altruism is putting the needs of others before our own, the concern for the wellness of others. Many of us get so caught up with our busy and stressful lives that it becomes difficult to think about helping others, or donating time and money. According to studies, altruism can be extremely beneficial both mentally and physically. So whether you do something as small as offering your chair to an elderly person, or buying lunch for your co-workers, any act of kindness can benefit you in ways you never thought.

Here are some of the mental and physical benefits of altruism:


  • Sense of belonging, and reduces isolation- face to face interactions reduces loneliness.
  • Puts things in perspective- you might realize how fortunate and lucky you are.
  • Improves confidence, control, happiness and optimism.


  • Reduces stress- positive emotions reduce stress and boost our immune system.
  • Helps get rid of negative feelings- being altruistic decreases feelings of anger, aggression, and hostility.
  • Helps us live longer- studies show those who are more altruistic can live longer.

There are many different ways to give help to others. Being altruistic doesn’t take a lot of money or time. Small changes can make a big difference in the lives of others and even in your own.

Reasons To Seek Marriage Counseling.


Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. These rates vary with the partner’s education level, religious beliefs, childhood, etc. While divorce seems to be the healthiest and best decision for some, others may feel that the marriage can be salvaged. When there are problems and issues in the relationship many wonder when is it appropriate to seek help from a counselor.  

Here are some good reasons to seek marriage counseling:

  1. Communication has turned negative. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling depressed, insecure, disregarded, or wanting to withdraw from the conversation. Once the communication has turned negative it is hard to get it back on the positive track.
  2. Affairs. If you are contemplating having an affair, or if one partner has already had an affair, now would be a good time to seek help. It is possible to recover from infidelity, but it takes commitment and patience. 
  3. You’ve become just “roommates”. When it seems like you’re just occupying the same space and you just co-exist, a counselor can help sort out what is missing and help you get it back.
  4. Can’t figure out how to resolve conflicts. A third party member can help get you moving in the right direction and teach you skills to resolving your conflicts.
  5. Staying together just for the children. When couples believe it is more beneficial to stay together for the sake of the children, it can actually do more harm then good. Children should never be the deciding factor, and a professional can help you figure that out.

Not all marriages can be saved. In the process of marriage counseling you may decide that separation is in your best interest. But for those who are willing to commit to the process, marriage counseling can help you realize why you fell in love in the first place and get your marriage back on the right track. 

Visit our website for more information on marriage counseling and costs!

7 Weird Health Boosters!

  1. Friendly neighbors. When people feel like they are part of their neighborhood, have friendly neighbors whom they feel would help out with just about anything, and trust most of their neighbors, their heart attack risk goes down.
  2. Telling the truth. Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to health. Lets face it, lying is stressful because it requires a better memory. 
  3. Windows at work. Exposure to light has beneficial effects on mood, alertness, and metabolism. According to studies, office worker with more light exposure had better sleep quality, longer sleep duration, were more active, and had a better quality of life.
  4. Green plants. Speaking of the workplace, simply adding attractive greenery makes workers feel more engaged with work, better able to concentrate, and healthier.
  5. Water. Being in it, on it, or near it can calm an exhausted mind, reduce stress, and increase physical activity.
  6. Nature. Sun exposure, plants, and water sounds a lot like being out in nature. Spending time outdoors increases your happiness and reduces stress.
  7. Moderate worrying. According to a study, moderate worriers are more likely to live longer, healthier lives because they can envision the worst and prepare for it. They are also less likely to take foolish risks.

%d bloggers like this: