Category Archive: Counseling

10 Tips for Getting the Self-Care That You Need

September is Self-Care Awareness Month. It’s an important time to remember to take care of yourself and put your needs first, no matter how hard it may be.

How often do we feel that we need to be on top of tasks, places, and the needs of others? Probably everyday. We hardly even stop to take care of ourselves. And where does that leave us? There is plenty of evidence to indicate how taking care of ourselves is actually the best way we can be there for others and for the many tasks that life gives us.

There are numerous ways that people consider self-care. But the thing with self-care is that you are the one that truly knows which ways are best for you. And remember: we are talking about healthy ways to do this. Let’s go over ten ways that you’ve probably used before but have forgotten.

1. Get sufficient sleep.
Sleep for 7- 8 hours and try to find at least 30 minutes of your day to just chill.

2. Ask for help.
Sometimes being able to accept help when you need it is good for you. And guess what? It also benefits the other person making you both feel valued. Two for the price of one.

3. Express gratitude.
Simple, right? Well it is and yet we forget to see what is right before us and makes us feel good about our day, month, or life. It can be done by journaling or sharing our gratitude with others.

4. Use your five senses.
Hold a pet in your arms. Cuddle up under a comfy warm blanket with a nice book. Listen to music that helps you feel relaxed. Take a nice warm shower or warm bath.

5. Make a spiritual connection.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be religious—meditation is also a great way to reconnect your mind, body, and soul. Try one of the many apps, classes, or YouTube videos available online. Take a walk in nature for just 10 minutes. Or just be mindful and aware of your movements during regular daily tasks, even right now.

6. Eat your veggies.
Remember them? There is something to be said about eating healthy and putting good food in your body to boost your self-care and feel nurtured in different ways.

7. Connect.
Call someone, write an email to someone you miss, send a card to a loved one, or go have chocolate with a friend!

8. Let’s get physical.
Play dodgeball, soccer, badminton, or anything else that suits you. Go for a nice walk. Try yoga, a great way to take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs all at once. Hey, you can even put on one of your favorite tunes to groove to and dance!

9. Cut the cord.
Unhealthy people can drag you down and make you feel awful. Set healthy boundaries with them, even if it’s with those you love. Yes, it might feel awkward and it’s not easy, however, sometimes it is needed.

10. Laugh.
Remember when you were a kid and something just made you laugh just because? Let that kid out again! Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Whichever you choose, try out at least three of these. It’ll benefit you and all of those around you. You’ll notice how much better you’ll feel. Best self-care!

Want more tips? Whether you’re going through a difficult time or just need someone to talk to about your regular day-to-day, JFS Orlando has licensed counselors that can help you get some self-care. To schedule an appointment, call 407-644-7593 ext. 247 or email today!


Author: Carla Fischer, MA, LMHC, LMT

Carla Fischer has been a Mental Health Counselor for over 15 years. She received her training for Mental Health Counseling at Webster University in Central Florida. Carla has traveled extensively; through that experience she developed an understanding of culture and discovered that background shapes who we are and how we experience the world. Carla is bilingual, fluent in English and Spanish she also has a good control of the German Language. Carla approaches Mental Health Counseling therapy with an open heart and mind.  She is aware that the willingness to start opening up and dealing with emotions is the first step in finding solutions to whatever concerns the client. The use of body centering or emotional centered therapy has been an integral part of helping her clients find balance in their lives and work through some of the difficulties that they might face.

3 Tips to Prepare for Back-to-School

Parents and children can have mixed emotions about returning to school. For children or teenagers, it’s a chance to see their friends and break some of the monotony of summer, but it also means facing homework and schoolwork. For parents, there can be a sense of relief but also possibly a dread of homework battles and schedules.

Tip #1:

This is a good time to discuss any struggles with morning or evening routines you may have had in the past. If your child does not get ready on time, have a discussion with them now to find out their expectations and thoughts on the matter. Without correction or judgement, let your child explain their expectations. If they say, “It’s too early, I want to sleep longer”, find out what their proposal would be to get to school on time. When you focus on your child or teenager solving their own discomfort, they feel a sense of control and it will be difficult for them to defend unreasonable expectations.

Tip #2:

Remember that when children go to school, they are going to their workplace. And as with most adults, we need time to transition when we come home. Maybe to get outside, relax, play; it’s important that children and teenagers be given the space to take a break. They have been sitting in a classroom all day. If you expect or pressure them to do their homework or chores right away, they may resent it and become resistant.

If they refuse to do homework or “forget”, work with your child to discuss your self-discipline techniques to do something you don’t enjoy. Most do not find homework or chores enjoyable, so take time to empathize with their feelings yet coach them towards building skills to push through the feelings. This may be teaching them how to break up their assignments into smaller chunks with breaks, playing music with chores, or having them setup their schedule. If you fall into the role of “making sure” they do their work, they will not take ownership and it will become a battle. No one wants a battle!

Tip #3:

On weekends, plan outings with your children or teenagers. Spending time together helps reinforce your relationship. It’s important that you and your child remember it’s not all about the grades or chores, that you care about them and care about how they feel and what’s going on in their life.

For instance, your elementary child or middle schooler may be experiencing bullying and/or feel lonely and need help. In middle school, preteens are highly focused on building social connections and friendships which they need. Sharing your experience of making good friendships can be helpful and show that you recognize what is important to them. In high school, teenagers should be carrying most of their responsibilities and it is a great time to enjoy time together.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more like you than you may realize. Be with your child in support as you would wish if it were you.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on issues including parenting, family conflict, and divorce. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email to learn more about our services.

Author: Brenda Chappell

Brenda Chappell is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. She specializes in working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, and grief. She has worked with children at home and schools, at domestic violence shelters, and with adults in office outpatient therapy. Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

5 Tips for Parents Who Are Going Through A Divorce: How to Be There for Your Children

Parents can feel confused, guilty, and at a loss as to how to explain to their children why they are getting a divorce. Issues such as infidelity and domestic abuse can feel impossible to explain without disparaging one of the parents. However, if parents decide to divorce because they have fallen out of love, it can also be difficult to explain why that is justification for a divorce (in their children’s eyes).

When any significant negative event happens to someone, it is human nature to want to know why – especially for children trying to make sense of their family breaking apart. Without discussion, children may blame themselves or be angry at their parents for causing them this pain with no reason.

Below are tips to help your children process and heal from divorce:

  1. Empathize. Before approaching your child, take time to be in an understanding place of what your child may be feeling. If your parent’s divorced, then you can remember how it felt and what you wanted to know, did not want to know, or anything someone said that was helpful. If you did not experience this, talk to friends or relatives that have experienced it to gain perspective from a child’s eyes.
  2. Why is this happening? The ‘why’ question becomes prominent with children because they want to know why this is happening and why there is no possibility for it to be avoided. When children are not given any explanation, they frequently blame themselves because developmentally they have limited view of the adult world and adult problems. Children may feel they caused their parent stress through misbehavior or by just the stress of being parents. Allow your child to express their thoughts even if they do not make sense until they feel heard and then you can respond.
  3. False hope. It is normal for children to hope or have fantasies about their parents reuniting. This is a part of the grief process.
  4. Parental guilt. One parent may feel angry that their child is having to go through this pain when it is perceived it was not that parent’s fault. For children, it does not matter. This is about grief and they do not want to be brought into the battle and choose sides. It is important that a child has a place to lean on and express their anger and sadness without their parent’s guilt or anger being expressed. Additionally there are groups such as DivorceCare for Kids. It can be very therapeutic for children to meet other children going through the same process.
  5. Counseling. It may be useful or necessary to seek help. Primarily if a child is showing signs of distress at school or at home. If your child’s grades start to drop or they become withdrawn – finding a counselor who works with families and children can be very beneficial. Your child can have a place to express themselves through play or through talking to a person who is not a family member. Children may want to come alone or with their siblings. Counselors can provide support for parents as well through teaching parenting skills specific to the situation.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more observant than parents realize. Support your child as you would want to be supported.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on issues ranging from depression, anxiety, and grief. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email to learn more about our services.

Author: Brenda Chappell

Brenda Chappell is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. She specializes in working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, and grief. She has worked with children at home and schools, at domestic violence shelters, and with adults in office outpatient therapy. Brenda holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

7 Tips for Easier Life Transitions

Seasons change, and so do I….

I remember when Memorial Day marked not just the beginning of summer, but also the unlocking of public pools and beaches, the time when white pants and shoes could now be donned, AND the transition from school to play. That was more than a few years ago!       

Season changes still remain milestones in our lives, no matter how many years ago we graduated from school. The longer days of sunlight offers relief from the dark days of winter. What joy as we delight in light! Yet, on the other side, here in Florida, the warm weather, the VERY warm weather after Memorial Day, might change our daily routines to encompass more indoor, air conditioned activities. Either way, our lives alter as the seasons evolve from one to the next.

Some transitions are welcome, while others require more work for us to adjust. Adapting to warm weather may seem like a piece of cake to most of us, yet some of us miss the outdoors. Giving up afternoon walks might feel like a real loss. Yet, season changes are still fairly simple compared to other transitions many of us confront. These transitions might include moving to a new community, retiring from work, losing a spouse to death or divorce, accepting a new disability or re-configuring your home now that you have an empty nest. Any of these transitions can open the door to depression, anxiety, confusion, anger and/or frustration. Sometimes we need help with managing those transitions—and the accompanying emotions. With assistance, we can embrace the change and make the most out of the opportunity.

If you are struggling with a transition, here are 7 tips for smoothing out the inevitable bumps.

  1. More than anything—TAKE SOME TIME. We tend to be impatient and expect ourselves to adjust rapidly. Any change takes time and the bigger the change, the longer the adjustment will take.
  2. REFLECT. Your life is now different and you can’t expect everything to be the same. Reflect on what you are giving up. We all have a propensity to try to keep things the same. The old was comfortable and familiar. It worked, so why do I have to change now? Your transition might still be too raw to deal with these losses, but with time, you will be able to recount what you miss most about those friends who are no longer in your life, the job that is presently in your rear-view mirror, or your home that you recently sold to downsize.
  3. FEEL. As you list those aspects of your life that have either disappeared or have been significantly altered, you can start the process of letting go. You may be angry about the ending of your relationship, or scared about life with your newly acquired disability. Sadness, confusion or feeling overwhelmed are all are natural and part of the process.
  4. TAKE SOME MORE TIME. As you feel yourself letting go, take time to figure things out. You don’t have to make decisions right away. You are starting on a new life journey and you will be confronting lots of unknowns. There is no way you can have all of the answers right away.
  5. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT. When you move, just about everything changes, from grocery stores to doctor visits. When you retire, your financial decisions are altered, and when you downsize, your favorite piece of furniture might disappear. Don’t minimize all these challenges and don’t take all of the work you are doing for granted. Your strength in making these changes deserves appreciation.
  6. REMEMBER. Remind yourself of the other important beginnings that you have successfully confronted. Starting school or a family both required the transitional skills of a new beginning. You have the resiliency and the experience.
  7. GET HELP. At any stage of the process, you can ask for help. Grief support groups are devised specifically to support those who have recently lost a loved one; vocational counseling can help with designing a new career and psychotherapy can be a crucial component in successfully moving through any life transition that feels overwhelming.

No matter how much we plan, our life’s journey involves transitions, some bigger than others, some anticipated and some not.

If you are struggling with one of the many transitions that we all face at one time or another, please don’t hesitate to contact JFS Orlando. We have individual, couples and family counseling that can not only help you through these tough times, but will allow you to turn the crisis into an opportunity for growth. Call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email to learn more about our services.

Author: Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D.

Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist at JFS Orlando. She’s worked for many years helping people through a variety of transitions such as moving in or out of college, designing a new life post-divorce or the loss of a loved one, or creating a new sense of self after being thrown any one of life’s many curve balls. Presently, she has developed a clinical focus of helping seniors deal with the many transitions of the ‘second act’ such as retirement, empty nest, moving and disability.

Six Symptoms of Pregnancy Depression/Anxiety You Might Not Be Aware Of

We have all seen the movies with the exemplary pregnant woman who looks like a model, glowing from ear to ear, sleeping through the night, full of energy and happiness. In reality, pregnancy for many women is a hormonal roller coaster, filled with bouts of morning sickness, uncomfortable weight gain, sleep deprivation, exhaustion and worry to name a few. It may be surprising to some that new mother mental health goes beyond postpartum and can occur at any time before, during, or after pregnancy (perinatal).

Here are six symptoms of possible perinatal depression and/or anxiety that you might not have known:

  1. Lowered self-esteem. You may be struggling with guilt or other negative thoughts about yourself as a person, mother or wife.
  2. Decreased social engagement and interest in doing things you used to enjoy doing. You may have turned from an extrovert to an introvert; not returning calls or meeting with people after you agreed to do so.
  3. Sad, depressed mood with little to no highs. You may be feeling lethargic and fatigued even after resting.
  4. Absence of joy in the present and/or for the future as a mother. Little to no excitement about shopping for the baby, being pregnant or having a baby.
  5. Anxiety, racing thoughts and stress about motherhood and being pregnant. May have perfectionistic desires for self and others.
  6. Intrusive, usually scary, thoughts about harming yourself, the baby, or something catastrophic happening outside your control, with no intent to act on the thought. You have fears or visions of the event occurring.

If you or a loved one can relate to any of these symptoms and their impact on your day-to-day life, help is available. Recovery from prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety is possible once discovered and proper help is received. No one has to go through it alone. Educate yourself and others by going to Postpartum Support International or call their Warmline at 1.800.944.4PPD. As always, in case of an emergency please call 911 and take yourself to the nearest emergency room.

JFS Orlando offers individual, couples, and family counseling on Perinatal, Prenatal, and Postpartum Mood Disorders including depression, anxiety, and OCD, as well as grief and loss. Please call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email to learn more about our services.



Author: Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes

Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Therapist Supervisor and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

Hurricane Irma

hurricane-irma-satellite-noaa-ht-jc-170905_12x5_992Hurricane Irma Update: Irma has left many Central Floridians without the most basic of needs: food, water and shelter. JFS Orlando has addressed those exact needs for nearly 40 years and we continue to open our doors and outstretch our hands to lift up those in need. After a natural disaster, it is amazing to see a community band together and help neighbors in need. Now that we have begun to pick up the pieces, many of you are asking how you can help. We have listed our most urgent Agency needs below and appreciate your support!

1. DONATE NON-PERISHABLE FOOD. Our Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is expecting numbers to continue to rise as power is restored and citizens are able to replenish their food that spoiled. Donations can be dropped off at our building located at The George Wolly Center 2100 Lee Rd., Winter Park, FL 32789.
2. MONETARY DONATIONS. Much of the food we give out through the pantry is purchased from a local food bank. Every dollar donated turns into $6 worth of purchasing power to supplement what we do not get donated from the community. Donations can be made online at or by calling Amanda Benedit at 407-644-7593 ext. 227
3. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. Our food pantry is staffed by a wonderful core group of volunteers, however, with increased numbers of clients we will likely extend our pantry hours and need your help to distribute food to those in need. You can apply to become a volunteer by calling Amanda Benedit 407-644-7593 ext. 227.

For additional information on how you can help with Hurricane Irma Relief, please visit or call 407-644-7593.

JFS Orlando welcomes new Clinical Supervisor

Douglass-Barnes, AshlynJFS Orlando welcomes Ashlyn Douglas-Barnes, a licensed clinical social worker and qualified clinical supervisor, to the Counseling, Growth and Development Program as a clinical therapist supervisor. Douglas-Barnes has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

Douglas-Barnes specializes in adults and couples, with a range of concerns from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma, chronic illness, and relationship issues with a focus on improving communication, self-esteem, and self-confidence. She is certified by Postpartum International for specialized care of perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression). Douglas-Barnes is also certified to complete pre-surgical mental health clearance for bariatric surgery, as well as counseling before and after bariatric surgery for individuals and couples.

Read more about Ashlyn and the Counseling, Growth and Development Program in our article featured in THE HERITAGE.

JFS accepts new insurance!

TreeBehavioral health insurance is vitally important to those with occasional mental health or emotional needs and for those with more chronic mental health concerns. People most often need assistance with adjusting to life transitions such as job stressors, family concerns, grieving a loss, or managing changing relationships. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are often triggered due to these transitions. Having behavioral health insurance can assist with getting the help that is needed to learn coping skills and relieve symptoms associated with negative feelings. Unfortunately, some have behavioral health insurance that is underutilized because they do not know or understand that is included in their insurance plan.

Another important plan that is underutilized is Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAP can effectively reduce the adverse effects of depression, workplace stress and other mental health issues, but research has shown that most EAP-based mental health services are underutilized by employees.

Many people are not aware that their employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that often provides 3 to 8 counseling sessions at no charge to them. We often encourage potential clients to inquire with their employer or insurance company to verify if EAP is offered to them.

JFS Orlando’s Counseling, Growth and Development Program is excited to share the new insurance panels we are able to accept. The list below states the various companies JFS Orlando accepts:

  • Cigna
  • Aetna
  • Humana
  • Tricare
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
    • Magellan
    • Cenpatico
      • Sunshine Health
    • Wellcare
      • Staywell
    • Beacon Health (Psychcare and Prestige)

In an effort to provide mental health services to the entire community, JFS Orlando also has a sliding scale fee for the uninsured or underinsured in need of counseling services. Please contact our Clinical Therapist Supervisor, Teresa Brown, LCSW  for additional information regarding our counseling services and insurance questions at 407-644-7593 x247.

Meet Judy: a widow and a JFS Orlando Grief Support Group Client

IMG_1002When Judy’s husband of 42 years was diagnosed with cancer, she was devastated. She vowed to be there for him. She struggled with him through chemotherapy and surgery. Four months later he was gone. She felt paralyzed. She cried nonstop. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. She’d open his closet doors knowing that she should do something with his things, yet couldn’t. She thought she was losing her mind. One day while at synagogue, she saw a flyer for a grief support program being offered through JFS Orlando. A friend encouraged her to attend. “Going through the support group was a lifeline for me. It made me feel normal again. By listening to others share their story, I learned what I was feeling was normal. We cried. We hugged. We cried some more. They became my friends. This was the beginning of the healing. I still feel sad and feel the loss, but I know now that these feelings are part of the grief process. I recommend the support group for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.”




Going the extra mile- Counseling, Growth and Development Program

Great article in the Jewish Heritage featuring JFS Orlando’s  Counseling, Growth and Development Program:

JFS Orlando goes the extra mile in helping others

By Christine DeSouza
April 29, 2016 | Year 40, No. 34

To read the entire story follow this link

The counselors at JFS Orlando, (l-r), Stacey Greenberg, MSW, LCSW; Daniel Fisher, Ed.S., LMHC; Marlene Schiro, LMHC; Teresa Brown, MSW, LCSW; Carla Fischer, MA, LMHC; and Barbara Coffee, Ph.D., ABD, LMFT.

The counselors at JFS Orlando, (l-r), Stacey Greenberg, MSW, LCSW; Daniel Fisher, Ed.S., LMHC; Marlene Schiro, LMHC; Teresa Brown, MSW, LCSW; Carla Fischer, MA, LMHC; and Barbara Coffee, Ph.D., ABD, LMFT.