Care + Counseling Center
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 $200 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
Offering Appointments in Person and Virtual
Whether you’d like to have a face-to-face appointment or feel more comfortable in a virtual setting, our counseling center is offering appointments with safe practices in mind. 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 through our HIPA compliant system.
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!
In addition, we also provide Breakthrough Support Groups. Register for these groups at baylife.org/breakthrough. Breakthrough groups are meeting face-to-face at this time.
To schedule a counseling appointment, or to register for the premarital counseling group sessions, DivorceCare, GriefShare, or other programs, please call us at 813.319.0183.
To assist you best, please print and fill out the following forms prior to your first appointment.
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 .
As we walk through the current crisis in the world, we find ourselves entering into uncharted territory. With all the talk of social distancing, quarantines, and businesses or social gathering spots closing down, it can add an additional layer of stress or anxiety that we may not be accustomed to. My hope is to provide some helpful ideas for you to think about and begin putting 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 adjust to a new normal over the coming weeks. Regardless, I hope that these ideas and tips are good reminders for all of us.
Loneliness and depression are feelings that may become more prevalent during this crisis. Take time each day to stop and evaluate your feelings. Here are some ways to be more aware of your internal state throughout this time.
- 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 and 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): How 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. While we may not be able to meet in large groups at the church building, we still have the opportunity to connect through other means. If you’re in a life group or discipleship relationship, text or email your leader the question. If you’re not, email us at the church and we’ll do our best to respond to you when we can.
- Utilize New Tools: We’ll be updating new information regularly on baylife.org. Check our online resources for new blogs, videos, and sermons.
As our our normal routines slow to a stop, it may seem harder to stay active. Being active is very good 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 and 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.
- Your kids are home from school, so 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, or roll out the yoga mats together.
- Find a Partner: You may not be able to meet up in person but you can video chat your exercise time together, or just follow up with a phone call to keep each other accountable and discuss how you’re doing. Having a partner will allow you to stay motivated.
While we may be striving towards social distancing and avoiding groups, we live in a day and age where we can still stay connected with each other. Utilize the tools you have and think creatively of ways you may not normally connect with people. Phone calls, text messages, emails, and video chats are all ways we can stay emotionally close with each other. Here are some other ways to stay connected.
Life Groups: If you’re not in a life group you can still join one. Our life groups will be meeting online when meeting on person is not wise. Visit us online to find information or join a group at baylife.org/groups.
- Discipleship: If you’d prefer more of a one on one spiritually challenging relationship, inquire about ways to connect to discipleship by visiting online at baylife.org/discipleship or email us at .
- Weekend Services: Our weekend services are in person in two venues. You may attend the regular service where folks will be removing their mask once seated. Or, you may prefer to attend our "Mask Only" service, in the Loft, where people are committed to wearing a mask during the entire service. We’re still doing our online services as well. You can interact with others in a chat, ask for live prayer, and worship with the Body of Christ still, but right from your house. Just visit baylife.org and click on the live stream during those times.
If you find yourself struggling, get help. Don’t be afraid to reach out. If there’s something we can do as a church, please contact us and let us know by calling the church offices at 813.661.3696.
Emergencies: In the event that our offices are closed, the voice system will instruct you on reaching someone if there’s a serious situation. If you’re facing a physical or health related emergency, call 9-1-1.
Brenton Shephard | Care & Counseling Pastor
Brenton Shephard is the Bay Life Care and Counseling Pastor and is the director of Bay Life's Pastoral Family Counseling Center.
Ilene Stubbs specializes in counseling for addictions, marriage, family, and the unique needs of women. She has an undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University, a Master’s Degree from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of Net Institute of Addiction. Ilene spent 30 years as an army wife, endured three years of separations due to military conflicts, and practically raised two girls of her own. As a result, she has a wealth of experiences and perspectives that have proven invaluable as a counselor to those with a wide range of needs.
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 BA in psychology, with an MA 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.
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.
John Powell specializes in marriage, family, mental disorders, and addictions counseling. He has an undergraduate degree in sociology from the University of Oregon, and two master’s degrees in Adult Education from Kansas State University and Professional Mental Health Counseling from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. John is a retired Army officer with 30 years service and over 20 years experience as a lay minister and counselor.