Is teletherapy for me?

Teletherapy might seem less appealing than in person at first glance because it can seem less personable in a situation that is very personal. You might be concerned about doing couples therapy or family therapy However, It can be as effective an experience as in person with the right therapist. As the Corona virus is expanding its reach across the world teletherapy is quickly becoming the go to method for nearly all therapists. Some have been doing telehealth for years; exclusively or as an alternative when clients travel. Some have just begun using it and may require some time to adjust. If you have found a therapist you feel comfortable speaking to about your struggles I encourage you to try telehealth. There are many secure video platforms available, at JM Counseling we are using google hangouts meet. Below are 5 reasons telehealth could be right for you!

  1. No traffic concerns
  2. more session times available from your therapist
  3. you can more easily share your world with the therapist
  4. Access to therapist outside your local area
  5. No travel time to or from the appointment

I hope you will consider using telehealth for your current and future therapy needs. Many forms of therapy are adaptable to telehealth. Ask your mental health provider if this is an option for you!


Jennifer Magbanua


Loss is difficult at any time of year. It can feel especially difficult in February because it’s still the start of the new year as well as the month celebrating love. Loss is often thought of in a tangible way. Such as in the death of a loved one or loss of a job. However, loss can sometimes be rooted in a change that does not bring a tangible loss. For example, if  a neighbor moves to a different neighborhood or a friend changes schools. Even a good thing like getting a promotion can bring a sense of loss because the relationships you formed in your old team are changed.

In looking at how to handle loss it can be similar even with the varied ways we experience loss. Follow the steps below to cope with a loss:

  1. Recognize the sense of loss as valid. This can be especially difficult if we aren’t expecting to feel a sense of loss. This step is important because it helps start the grief process by first acknowledging that there is something to grieve. For example, if a workmate moves to a new team as an adult it can feel silly to admit that we miss them. Although, it may be less than a death there is still a sense of loss due to the change and acknowledging it can help you to engage more positively with the new situation.
  2. Consider why the relationship or item is important. This can be difficult if we aren’t sure or were unaware how important something or someone is until we aren’t together anymore. If you feel more sad then you expected allow the feeling so that it can be worked through. Often once you allow yourself to feel your feelings you find that you are able to move on with life in a more productive and healthy manner.
  3. Find a concrete way to say goodbye. When someone we love passes often we have a funeral or memorial service. When someone gets a promotion or moves there’s often a congratulations party. However, we can also have a more intimate goodbye. Perhaps a (one way) conversation or note to the loved one who passed. With a friend who moves or gets promoted at work a conversation or note telling how much you appreciate the close relationship formed and specific memories that mean something to you. This process can create a sense of closure for you about the old way of being.
  4. Discover ways to feel connected. We can allow the memory of a loved one to live on by creating ways to memorialize them annually or even daily. Maybe a prayer said for them, listening to a song they liked, engaging in activities that the loved one enjoyed. With a friend who has moved homes or jobs we can make plans to get together regularly in order to maintain the relationship in a more planned way then previously needed because you will see each other less often.


The length of time each step takes will vary depending on the importance of the person or thing you are grieving. I hope you find these steps helpful in healing your sense of loss. If you want to discuss further Jennifer Magbanua, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist can be reached at 407-782-4848 or


Thanks for reading,


Is it too late to change?

It’s the end of January now and it might seem that you’ve missed the boat on starting those New Year’s Resolutions. However, I want to assure you that it’s never too late to improve yourself!

There are many memes out there meant to motivate you by encouraging you to start small with one movement towards achieving your goal. These are well meaning and at times helpful. Take those words and use them to begin your process. Think of one thing you want to improve right now and write it down. Now look at that goal, yes it’s a goal now that you’ve written it down! Look at that goal and think of what you will need to do to accomplish that goal in 1 month, 1 week, 1 day, and 1 hour. Write down the steps using the process above. Look at the goal and the steps daily to keep yourself motivated. Each day when you look at the goal write down what you have accomplished. This will help you stay motivated as you work towards your goal!

Jennifer Magbanua, JM Counseling Owner,

The Rise and Fall of Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the seasons change, often times so can our mental state. You might have known someone who has suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder or have gone through it yourself.  Seasonal Affective Disorder, formerly known as Seasonal Depression typically starts around fall and worsens into the winter months. If you have suffered from this disorder, you are not alone. SAD affects approximately a half of a million people in the United States. (Cleveland Clinic).

What causes SAD? The exact cause remains unknown but research strongly suggests it is triggered by the availability to sunlight. As the months draw closer to winter, the amount of sunlight one might receive lessens. This is said to affect your internal clock. Your sleep, mood, and hormones begin to shift. Other research suggests that the lack of sunlight enhances the melatonin production in individuals, causing the symptoms of lethargy and excessive amounts of sleep. Some symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:



Inability to concentrate

Extreme fatigue

Increased need for sleep

Cravings for carbohydrates

Weight gain

Loss of interest in everyday activities

Some variables that may  increase the your chances of Seasonal Affective Disorder: being female, living far from the equator, younger in age, having a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder, and family history. As sunlight provides our bodies with a natural source of vitamin D, it is no coincidence that researchers found individuals with SAD to be deficient in vitamin D.

Fortunately SAD can be treated. Individuals who experience SAD can try various treatments such as Psychotherapy, light therapy or medication. A common medication used to help decrease the side effects of this disorder are SSRI’s. A mix or combination of these treatments could be your answer.

Be aware of the rise and fall of SAD and do not hesitate to seek help.

Thanks, Briana Vila

Briana Vila is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in private practice at JM Counseling. Reach out to Briana by emailing her






Back to School

Back to school brings relief from the stresses of filling up the long summer days but it also has it’s own challenges. Now that the kids are back in school the routine tightens up, bedtimes are earlier, and calendars fill up. It can feel overwhelming as flyers, birthday invites and homework comes home from school. It is understandable that parents might have a love hate relationship with this time of year. If you find yourself struggling to adjust read the following tips for help.

The following are some helpful tips to manage what seems unmanageable!

  1. Set doctor appointments during the summer and try to schedule all the appointments in one day.  The best part is you only miss one day of work and the kids don’t miss school!
  2. Get the children help out in the areas you dread! An example, make an assembly line for lunch prep the night before. Everyone’s lunch is finished quickly and easily when everyone does their part.
  3. Make a car pool schedule for sports practices, games or school pick up. It’s always nice to have a break when life gets hectic.
  4. Invest in post-it notes! Although it’s old school, these are helpful to write down reminders and stick in place you will see them for the reminder you need. Plus it adds a pop of color to your routine!
  5. Say No sometimes. Schedules can fill up quickly and while all the fun is tempting, it is important to realize when you need a break. Take care of your mental well-being and rest when you need it!

I hope you find these tips helpful and that they encourage you to make changes to create an easier back to school experience for you and your family this year!

Briana Vila

Briana E. Vila is a Florida State Registered Intern in Marriage and Family Therapy #IMT2664. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at Saint Leo University  Briana works with children and teens, as well as families who struggle in the transition of becoming a blended family. She has experience with the foster care system and helping children of divorce. Briana also works with children who are diagnosed with ADHD, impulse control, and behavioral issues. To speak with Briana email her at



Hope these were helpful, and hopefully your take off into routine is graceful and smooth!

What does it mean to genuinely listen?

It is easy to tell if someone is not listening when we ourselves are speaking. It can be much harder to identify what we are doing that shows we are not listening when someone else is speaking. First let’s list how to know when someone else isn’t listening, little to no eye contact, preoccupied by another activity (tv or phone), or responding inappropriately to what was said. An example of an inappropriate response is if someone says, “what have you been up to today?” and the response given is, “fine, thanks. And you?”

Often when we think we are listening we have mentally checked these boxes of eye contact, not doing something else, and responding appropriately. However, there is much more to genuine listening than that. Genuine listening requires an effort to focus entirely on the conversation at hand. This means that not only does the listener make eye contact, avoid engaging in other activities and avoid answering inappropriately; the listener also makes an effort to understand what is being said, how it is being said, and what is not being said in order to fully understand the dynamic of the conversation. This may sound quite cumbersome but it is something that can become easy and enjoyable. Initially listening this intensely can feel intense or overwhelming because it requires more energy than listening passively. Imagine the difference between having the television on for background noise versus watching the season finale of your favorite show. This can give some idea of the difference between the two types of listening.

Genuine listening requires active participation in the conversation by paying attention to all aspects of the conversation. These aspects include the words, tone, volume, and what is left unsaid. These all give an idea of what the speaker is trying to get across. If you pay attention to all of these areas it gives you a a much better chance of understanding the message being sent. A good listener also asks questions to gain an even deeper level of understanding.

One sign that you have listened well is that you come away from the conversation with an accurate understanding what was said. There are a couple ways to know this. One is to ask the speaker directly if your understanding is correct. For example, saying, “Did you mean that you have been feeling ignored by me because I didn’t respond to your texts when I was out of town?” Another way to know that you have been a good listener is to have the speaker thank you for listening, this means the feel heard. Feeling heard is another way of expressing that you feel understood.  Other signs of listening well is that you find yourself thinking about what the person said later or that you remember the conversation at another time. An important way to know you have been a good listener is that you leave the conversation feeling connected to the other person in a way you may not have before. The last one is a bit tricky because you can also feel more connected to someone because they have listened to you. So evaluating how much talking you did is an important thing to consider in that case.

Although genuine listening does take more effort it is well worth the time and attention it takes to learn because it enables you to have much more meaningful and productive conversations with everyone you interact with throughout your day. You also might find that it’s contagious and others will make more of an effort to listen to you.

~Jennifer Magbanua, LMFT

Physical Health vs Mental Health

Maintaining good physical health often helps to improve your overall mental health. Below are a few tips for sustaining a healthy lifestyle:

BE ACTIVE: studies have shown that exercise helps to reduce anxiety and depression as well as improve mood, self-esteem and cognitive functioning. Working out can also be a healthy way to combat stress or troublesome side effects from medications you may be taking to alleviate your symptoms. A study done by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that “all it takes is 30 minutes a few times a week to produce health benefits” from working out. Find what motivates you and incorporate some exercise into your daily routine.

EAT HEALTHY: Research shows that people who consume nutrient-dense diets tend to feel happier. Nutrient-dense diets usually consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk products, lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, beans and nuts. You should limit the number of fats and sugars you ingest. Making sure to drink plenty of water is also key to a healthy mind and body.

AVOID SMOKING: In addition to being bad for you, smoking can cause added issues to those individuals already dealing with a mental health condition. Certain medications cause an increased risk of heart disease and smoking elevates this risk. Smokers also tend to break down medications faster than nonsmokers resulting in increased doses of medication and/or experiencing unpleasant side effects.

STAY AWAY FROM ALCOHOL/DRUGS: The use of alcohol/drugs can worsen one’s mental and physical health conditions. Many commonly prescribed psychotropic medications for mental health issues have a combined side effect with drugs or alcohol that can cause toxic results. To avoid these risks, limiting or staying away from alcohol/drugs is your safest option.

GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP: Lack of sleep negatively impacts one’s mental health. A person experiencing anxiety may struggle to fall asleep, causing them to feel fatigued or out of sorts the next day. As a result their anxiety increases, making it even more difficult for them to fall asleep the next night and so the negative cycle continues. For Adults, it’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night and for children/adolescents 9 hours of sleep is appropriate. Make sure you’re engaging in activities that help you wind down at night so that your mind and body can relax and get some rest.

Take Care,

Rachel Banner