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Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness.

When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.

Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance.  If you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

 What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.

 Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. To begin, you might:

  • Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
  • Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being
  • Actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, when you’re ready
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

As you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You might even find compassion and understanding.

At Affordable Counseling Center, there are two convenient locations for you to choose from in Brandon and Tampa.  

We provide counseling services to individuals, couples, families, children, teens, and adults with any type of crises.  We help you build tools as well as help design and implement individualized goals and objectives, help you sort out beliefs, thoughts, and behavior patterns that may be hindering you in your relationship(s) whether at the work place or in other areas of your life.  
We have the tools you need for managing pain, anxiety, disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, or anger resulting from circumstances that interfere in achieving a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.  By working together, we will show you how to set and achieve goals and objectives therapeutically designed to meet your needs that will allow you to live the life you know that you deserve.

Sending & receiving ~ good vibes

Believe it or not there’s a science behind “good vibes” and ways to draw them into your life. The law of attraction states, in simple terms, that the energy you put into the universe will dictate the world around you. So, in theory, if you simply think positive thoughts and send positive vibes out into the universe, your life will be better.

Think about it, how many times have you stubbed your toe getting out of bed, or spilled your coffee in the morning and had your whole day go downhill from there? It’s the law of attraction. As you stub your toe or spill your coffee, you’re sending negative energy out into the universe. After that, the universe will respond to your negative energy with more negativity.

When you have a brighter outlook on life and your future, it only makes sense that a bright future will follow.  So, be confident in what you want to ask the universe to give you; make sure you want it with your whole heart and soul. Then, visualize what you want as if it’s already yours, and imagine sending a mental picture of it out into the universe. Be confident, keep a positive state of mind and imagine that you already have it. The stronger your faith, the quicker your reward will come to you. In addition, don’t forget to be grateful; thank the universe for all of the wonderful things you’ve received in your life this far. This will increase your positive state of mind and send more good vibes out into the universe.


Are you in love or in love with the idea of love?

Often times we think we are in love, but in reality we are so caught up with the idea of love and being love that we confuse the two.

These are some signs that you are in love with the idea of love:

1. You believe your life will begin once you have the love of your life. Your life and happiness revolves around finding your significant other.

2. You’re dreaming of your wedding and the life you’ll have with someone, and you’re just looking for someone to fit into that role, not the other way around. You are fixated on what the relationship can do for you, not what you can give to it.

3. You know you don’t really love them, but you’re holding on to the love they give. You’re often times find yourself convincing yourself that you’re in love

4. You have this inclination to want to change your partner or drag things out when you know it’s not going to work out in the long-run.

5. You’re never single for too long. You don’t take the necessarily time to heal after a failed relationship. You just jump from one to the next.

6. You can’t seem to take it slow, even when you try to. All of a sudden you become obsessed with the other person, you’re around them all the time, you are literally addicted to the feeling of being with them.

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

Don’t Shy Away From Counseling.


When the time comes that you need more than just a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear, look for a greater level of support through a therapy or counseling. Many people shy away from counseling. Sometimes people feel ashamed for needing help and sometimes people think that they should be able to solve their own problems. Perhaps you have supportive family and friends and you think that with their help you can get through it. But don’t expect your family or best friend to be the only kind of help and support you need right now. 

A therapist can help you learn how to break away from the self-damaging patterns of communicating and behaving and learn new skills. If you grew up in a troubled household, it is likely that you need to learn more constructive ways of interacting and living with the people you love–how to communicate, how to create a loving relationship, how to be a good parent, in other words, how to function more successfully. A therapist trained in these areas can help you acquire these skills. 


Visit our website for more information on the services we offer!

Communication is the key to a good relationship

Assertive communication and reflective listening is the key to good communication in any relationship. Simply say what you want to say and how it makes you feel in an adult manner without escalating your voice and wait for that person to respond. Fully listening to someone and understanding what they said before formulating your thoughts on what you are going to say is good reflective listening. To learn more about communication skill please call Affordable Counseling Center at 813-260-8892 to schedule an appointment to see one of our experienced therapists. 

What is a Registered Intern?

In the state of Florida, there are many different levels and types of mental health professionals. As mentioned in our first ever blog titled,”What Type of Mental Health Professional do I Need?” we lined those levels and divisions out to help you find the person who could most effectively help you. In this particular blog we will focus on the Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, or RMHCI.

An RMHCI is registered with the state to provide mental health services as an unlicensed professional. These individuals must work under a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who is also a Qualified Supervisor with the state. However, prior to getting registered as an intern, you must fulfill certain education requirements. It is required that to get registered an individual must first receive a Master’s degree from a regionally accredited university. A university that is vouched by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, is the best way to assure that your educational institution will meet the requirements for you to become licensed. Some states require that you attend a CACREP school in order to be licensed in the particular states. Others, as is true in Florida, offer you the option to complete certain courses and still be able to apply for licensure. Before you enter a Master’s program, be sure that they offer the courses you need for your particular state. In Florida you can find this information at the Department of Health Website at

One definite requirement for all states is a school approved internship. This is an intensive period of hands on experience where you learn the ins and outs of becoming a therapist. Internships will be very different depending on the agency where you work. But you MUST see clients to received hours towards graduating. Once again, each state regulates how many hours you must complete during you internship. In Florida, the required minimum is 1,000 hours. Finishing this task can be daunting, however it is a great opportunity to briskly trim the surface of the mental health profession.

After successful completion of a Master’s program, the RMHCI candidate must find a qualified supervisor and apply with the state. He or she must work under this supervisor for a minimum of 2 years and 2,000 hours. Fifteen hundred of those hours must be in direct client contact! This period can be very challenging for the RMHCI in that compensation may not be very high, but work load will. Depending on where you aquire employment will govern how much and when you work, as well as how quickly (or slowly) you complete your hours. The benefit to this two years however is great. One, you are able to learn from experience as well as a supervisor giving you a great deal of support. It is an opportunity for you to make some mistakes and learn from them (well, minus anything that would severely be a detriment to the client). This time is meant to provide protection for the client as well. The client’s well being is the most important thing to consider in counseling. They are better served and safer with someone who has an extensive amount of experience, or with someone who works under a supervisor that is well qualified as a support.

RMHCIs in the state of Florida must also complete a few trainings on specific items such as confidentiality among others. Once these are complete, the intern can then take a state derived test to become licensed. If you pass the test, you will receive your credential as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. This title will open up new opportunities for the RMHCI and will allow you to work individually, and also accept insurance payments (once approved and accepted by insurance agencies).

A great deal of education and work is required for pre-licensed professionals to become licensed. What is important to remember is that its not always just the goal that is important, but rather its the journey that will mold you and teach you how to be a great therapist.

At Affordable Counseling of Brandon registered interns play a huge role. Co-founder and Clinical Director, Clarissa Crystal-Belle hand picks each intern that works for her. She is very instrumental in helping teach and support interns working with her clients. Clarissa makes sure that each client gets high quality services. Registered interns are available at reduced rates, however the effectiveness of counseling is the same as they are supervised by a very compassionate, experienced and knowledgable licensed professional.

For more information on mental health counseling and related topics, check out our website at or visit our sister company at!

The Therapeutic Relationship

therapyIn life you have many different relationships that exist. Your first perhaps is the bonding and attachment that occurs between child and mother and father, or caregiver. As you grow you develop other family bonds with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles etc. And eventually you make friends and playmates with peers near your own age. As you become an adult, romantic relationships and intimate friendships develop, introducing a very dynamic concept of interaction with others. As we all know, relationships are a key element to almost everyone’s lives. Although Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been discredited to some extent, his placement of “love and belonging” as second to physical needs such as food and shelter, is pretty on point.
Many times people come to counseling with relational problems. A person might have a marital discord, he may be suffering from depression and be lashing out at others. Someone may have anxiety that is inhibiting the individual from making friends. Families can get stuck in dysfunctional triangulation. Whatever the cause, relationships play a key role in therapy and why people choose to sign up for introspection of this sort.
Given all of the information stated above, it would be safe to assume that when you are attending therapy you are talking about some of these relationships and their problems. So, it is therefore important that the relationship between therapist and client be an integral part of the therapy process. When searching for a therapist many people want to “fit” together. They want to find someone who “get’s them” or that they feel they can relate to. This is ultimately the client’s right, as it should be. Therapy is much more successful when the therapist and client have an emotionally intimate relationship. This may not happen right away, but in time, the most effective therapy includes this deep connection.
Coming up in part two of this series… What are things you need to look for in your therapeutic relationship that will encourage success?
Stay tuned for more from Affordable Counseling of Brandon and Tampa, and check out our website for more information!

Employee Profile: Matt Donovan


Matt Donovan has been working at affordable counseling since we started our practice. Matt is currently pursuing his MA in Rehabilitative Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Florida here in Tampa. Matt has experience with all age groups, and specializes working with individuals that have symptoms of anxiety and/ or depression. Matt also has experience working with teens and young adults with phase of life issues.
Matt is an avid hockey player and referee for the local recreational hockey league. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends as well. We are so happy to have Matt as a part of our great counseling team!
For more information about affordable counseling services, and the rest of our staff, visit our website at

Owner Profile- Clarissa Crystal Belle, LMHC


Clarissa Crystal-Belle Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), is co-founder and the Executive Clinical Director at Star Point Counseling Center. She has over 20 years of clinical therapy experience and has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) since 1997.

With Clarissa’s extensive experience providing counseling and therapy for children, teens, individuals, couples, and families.  She has helped many people with issues of depression, stress, anxiety, relationships, marriage and family dynamic issues, separation and divorce, grief and loss, parenting skills, PTSD, repeated negative behavior as well as addictions.
For more information on Clarissa’s extensive counseling experience, visit our website at
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