Care + Counseling Center

Welcome to the Bay Life Care + Counseling Center. Proverbs 20:5 tells us, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Life can be hard sometimes and when we face those difficulties it can feel like we’re all alone in a vast ocean. Our experienced and caring team is dedicated to draw you out and remind you that you’re not alone.

Whether you’re looking to build the foundation for a successful marriage, set aside some intentional time to strengthen your marriage, or work through struggles you’ve been facing as a couple, we’re here to provide support through pre-marital counseling, marriage coaching, and marriage counseling. We also provide individual counseling and coaching for everyone from children to adults through in-person or virtual appointments. Not only that, but our Breakthrough ministry offers group classes for DivorceCare and GriefShare on a semester basis.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 813-319-0183 or find out more about our licensed and certified counselors and coaches by clicking on the “Meet Our Counselors” tab below.

Premarital Counseling

Getting married? Couples who wish to be married at Bay Life and/or by a Bay Life Pastor, are required to attend Premarital Counseling. Private Couples’ Counseling is available by appointment. The cost is $250 per couple, for all sessions and materials. Upon completion, couples will receive a certificate which will entitle them to a discount on their marriage license. You can register by contacting our Counseling Center at 813.319.0183 or email    

Virtual + In-Person Appointments

Bay Life's Pastoral Family Counseling Center provides quality biblical counseling to individuals and families dealing with a variety of issues. Our goal is to help our clients find emotional, spiritual, and mental restoration so that they may be free to fulfill the purposes for which God has uniquely designed them!

We understand that each person’s comfort level about counseling is different. With this in mind, we offer in-person and virtual appointments through our HIPA compliant video calling system. Just call the office to schedule an appointment and let us know if it will be in person, over the phone, or a video call.

To schedule a counseling appointment, or to register for the premarital counseling, please call us at 813.319.0183. To register for our Breakthrough Support Groups like GriefShare and DivorceCare, visit

To assist you best, please print and fill out the following forms prior to your first appointment. 

Release of Liability and Psychosocial Questionnaire 

If you will be participating in a video or phone counseling session, please fill out the Technology Assisted Counseling (TAC) Consent Form and email it with your Release of Liability and Psychosocial Questionnaire to  .

Overall Wellness

Stress, anxiety, and worry are a real part of all of our lives. While some of us may have a higher tolerance for these emotions, there can still be issues that we need to find healthy ways to work through. These stressors can creep up from issues at work, in our marriages, families, and many other places, including being overly connected on social media. My hope is to provide some helpful ideas for you to think about and put into practice. For some of you, these may be things you’re already doing. For others, it may mean trying out a few new techniques as we walk through the rhythms of life. Regardless of where you are, I hope that these ideas and tips are good reminders for all of us.

Loneliness and depression are feelings that anyone can find themselves struggling with. Recognizing these feelings are important and the sooner you address them, the easier they can be to work through. Take time each day to stop and evaluate your feelings. Here are some ways to help make some personal evaluations when it comes to feelings of loneliness and depression.

  • Journal: Writing down how you feel each day is a good way to look back from one day to the next to see how you’re doing. Be honest with yourself and write down the things you’re struggling with or enjoying each day. If you’re able to, pinpoint the cause of those feelings. This will help make you more aware of what negative thoughts you are giving too much energy to, or conversely,  point you towards doing the things that bring you joy more often.
  • Be Still: How many times do you simply stop, close your eyes, and be silent during the day? Better yet, how many times have you done that and focused on your breathing? As you do, you’ll notice some things. Some days you may find your breathing calm and easy, while other times it may seem like it’s harder to catch your breath. Take the time to stop. Close your eyes. Focus on just breathing in and out. Allow yourself to relax, and let this be a moment to recognize how you’re feeling.

I believe mental and spiritual sharpness go hand in hand. While you can keep them separate, I prefer to put them together because staying mentally sharp can help us be more in tune to where we are in our walk with Christ. At the same time, when we’re staying close to Christ, we will often find ourselves in a better state mentally. Here are some ways to stay mentally and spiritually sharp.

  • Breathe: Using simple breathing techniques can help us to settle our hearts and minds when we’re anxious. Breathe slowly in through your nose, if you can, and then slowly out through your mouth. Do this for a minute and re-evaluate how you feel.
  • Pray: In James 4, James talks about living our lives in a way that is submitted to God and the things He is leading us towards. We can’t do this without spending time with Him. We can best do that by being connected to Him in prayer. In verse 8 he says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Spending regular time in prayer is key to staying connected to Christ throughout our day.
  • Worship (Sing): Have you ever taken the opportunity to sing praises to the Lord on your own? Singing in corporate worship is great, but you can also sing praises to God by yourself. Turn on your favorite worship songs and crank up the volume. Sing, dance and praise like no one’s watching but God! I find myself doing this even more when I’m stressed out about something. It’s a great way to resettle my mind on the truth of who God is in my life.
  • Read: Open your Bible and spend time in God’s Word. We can connect with Him in prayer, but we can also connect with Him through Scripture. If you don’t know where to start, I’d recommend the Gospel of John.
  • Go Deeper: When you’re reading, make notes, jot down key points that made you think, and write down questions you have. We may not always be able to talk about these questions quickly, so taking notes is important. When you can’t pick up the phone or meet soon with your life group, discipler, or mentor, shoot them an email with those questions. 

Life stages and changes can often lead to adjustments in our activity level and even make it difficult to find time for exercise. Being active is important for us, but often times we confuse being active with being overly busy. Use the opportunities you have to stay active in healthy ways. Exercise can be simple or rigorous depending on your personal level of fitness. If you’ve never been a runner, I don’t advise you to go outside and try to run for a mile. Simply start with walking, and be aware of the heat. If you’re not used to being active outside, make sure you have water with you when you are participating in outdoor activities. Be sure and consult your doctor before beginning activities you’re unsure about when it comes to your health limitations. Here are some ideas that can help.

  • Exercise: This is going to look different for everyone. As stated above, know your person fitness level, be aware of your environment, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.
    • Walking, running, push ups, sit ups, squats, and lunges are all ways you can exercise at home without any equipment.
    • Think outside the box, search for ways to exercise through online classes, or order easy equipment like resistance bands.
    • When your kids are home from school, take advantage of it! Think of ways to incorporate the whole family into your fitness routine. Take a family walk or bike ride around the block, roll out the yoga mats together, or have them play outside while you exercise. These are just a few ways to have fun and stay healthy together!
  • Find a Partner: Whether you decide to meet up with a workout partner or just start a routine together, these are great ways to keep us accountable. Exercising can feel monotonous at times, so having a workout partner is a great way to stay motivated and on track. They’re also important when lifting weights so you have a spotter to make sure you’re both safe. Be sure to set a schedule that works well for each of you.

Regardless of your life stage or schedule, staying connected is vital to our mental health. Isolation can lead to struggles with depression and anxiety or even allow those struggles to feel even more difficult. As a church we offer many ways to get connected, whether it’s in person or even online. Like anything though, we have to make connecting with others a priority, so here are some ways to do that.

    • Life Groups: If you’re not in a life group, we’d love to help get you connected with one! Our life groups meet throughout the week in homes and even online. Visit to find out more.
    • Discipleship: If you’d prefer more of a one-on-one spiritually challenging relationship, inquire about ways to connect with one of our disciplers by visiting or email
    • Weekend Services: We’d love to have you join us for services on the weekend! Whether you join us in person or online, there’s ways to connect throughout the service. You can interact with others in person while getting a latte and donut from our Mission’s Cafe or jump in one of the chats online with our Facebook stream or through our website,

If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If there’s something we can do as a church, contact us at 813.661.3696. In the event that our offices are closed, the system will instruct you on reaching a pastor on call.

For emergencies, be sure to call 9-1-1 or if you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, there’s always someone available by dialing 9-8-8.

Brenton Shephard | Care & Counseling Pastor

Breakthrough Support Groups

Don’t be trapped into thinking you’re the only one experiencing your current feelings, that no one understands, or that circumstances will never change! Bay Life's Breakthrough Support Groups provide safe, confidential, and caring environments where you can feel comfortable and safe talking about your struggles and grow toward wholeness.

Breakthrough groups will meet at various times and locations at Bay Life Church. Go to to find out more.

THESE GROUPS ARE FOR ADULTS ONLY. Childcare is NOT available on Thursday nights for Breakthrough. In addition, we request that you do not leave anyone under the age of 18 unattended on Bay Life's campus while you are participating in any group.

Meet Our Counselors

Brenton Shephard is the Director of Bay Life’s Pastoral Family Counseling Center and serves as the Care and Counseling Pastor for Bay Life Church. He has served as a pastor for fourteen years, working with middle school, high school, and college age students. He has an undergraduate degree from Trinity College of Florida in Christian Ministries, a master’s degree from Liberty University in Christian Ministry with a cognate in Pastoral Counseling, is a certified Mental Health Coach through the AACC from Light University, and is certified in Prepare/Enrich marriage counseling. He’s been married more than ten years and has two young children. 

Karen Chipchase is a certified Christian Life Coach and certified Mental Health Coach through the AACC from Light University. She has a master’s degree from Regent University in Human Services with a concentration in Christian Counseling. Her focus is to help clients seek to understand life’s challenges as they develop and enhance their known and unknown God given capabilities bringing their ideas, thoughts, and dreams into reality. Karen is a retired Department of the Army senior civilian with 33 years of experience. Additionally, she is a retired United States Army Reserve Colonel having served 26 years with deployments to Afghanistan and Hungary. Karen spent 29 years as an Army wife to an active-duty service member where she helped spouses and family members adapt to military life. Karen and her husband of 35 years reside in Riverview. 

Jennifer Hydock is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) specializing in family, teens, and children (individual and group counseling). She graduated from Florida State University with a dual Bachelor's of Science (Psychology and Criminology), and holds an Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. 

Genevieve LoCicero is the Breakthrough Groups Coordinator and works with adults with mood disorders, grief issues, PTSD and trauma, marital issues, and other mental health concerns. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and graduated from USF with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. She is trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) which is a form of psychotherapy that can aid clients with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual abuse, and many other mental and physical conditions. She also uses Gottman Method couples therapy in her work.

Dr. Bob Magruder is a pastoral counselor with over 40 years of pastoral ministry. As an AACC member, he specializes in counseling clients through addiction, marriage issues, premarital guidance, parenting teens, blended families, and the needs unique to men. Dr. Magruder has 4 degrees in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned a Doctor of Education and a certificate in Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s served as a Panama City Rescue Mission chaplain, directing the residential addiction recovery program. He is also certified to facilitate the SYMBIS Marriage Assessment and trained in the Gottman Marriage Counseling, Level One. Dr. Magruder has served churches as a youth pastor for over 20 years, then as teaching pastor, discipleship pastor, and executive pastor for over 20 years. He has a passion for discipling clients to overcome root problems and live in freedom through applying the Word of God to their lives.

Dr. Shane Drury is a Biblical Counselor who has served twenty years in ministry. He specializes in marriage counseling, parental counseling, premarital counseling, counseling young adults and teens, and issues related to men. He earned a Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Counseling both from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor in the local church for the last twenty years and has worked as a Biblical Counselor for the last five years. He graciously seeks to apply the gospel to issues of the heart to help people experience an abundant life in Christ.