By Camille Gillies

No matter how ideal someone’s life may appear, everyone goes through periods of stress and trauma, for which they may need someone else’s help. Luckily, experienced mental health counseling is only a phone call away and could set you on the path to a happier life and a better you!

When you’re faced with such times, Amanda Fink, a clinical therapist located in Wesley Chapel, wants you to know she’s here to help.

“It’s okay to seek help to learn how to deal with (emotionally) difficult events,” says Fink, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) who owns A Better You Counseling Center, located in the Cypress Glen Professional Park, off S.R. 56 near I-75.

A Better You Counseling Center treats both adults and children and asks its clients to abide by only two rules: First, always tell the truth and be forthcoming, and second, show respect. Fink and her team address a broad spectrum of issues, including strained or broken relationships with a parent, child or spouse; anxiety over school, sports or job; and feelings of loss and grief brought on by an unfaithful spouse/lover or the loss of a loved one.

Counseling worked wonders for one Wesley Chapel mother, who shared her personal story. “Raising an angry teenager is not easy and I needed help. It was destroying my marriage and I felt helpless. Our doctor recommended A Better You Counseling Center. My 14-year-old son was hesitant (that’s putting it nicely) to attend, but soon he was reminding me when his appointments were. Counseling has helped him find purpose, be more respectful and an all-around happier kid. Now, I look forward to family time again.”

In cases of conflict resolution, Fink says she sees many conflicts between adult children and their aging parents, in which the adult child often may be holding onto an issue from childhood. In those cases, Fisk says she speaks to both parties and prefers to counsel them together, observing nonverbal cues to gain additional insight into the dynamics of the relationship.

If one of the parties lives out of the area, Fink will conduct sessions on the speakerphone. In fact, she generally is agreeable to holding counseling sessions over the telephone or even conducting “e-therapy” via the computer, for those who are comfortable with the idea. She says those methods are convenient for people who travel a great deal or live out of state.

She also helps people overcome feelings associated with grief, feelings that may have been suppressed for many years.

“I see 40-year-old women who had abortions early in their lives and went on to get married and raise families,” she explains. “But, because they may never have grieved the loss of the (aborted) child, they are just now dealing with that grief.”

She adds that grief doesn’t always involve someone’s passing. “It also can be about the death of a relationship. Many spouses have a hard time coping with their partners leaving them for someone else.”

Feelings of grief manifest themselves in various ways.

“Some people come in and say, ‘I just can’t think straight,’ or others may not be able to sleep,” she notes. “Not all grief is the same.”


A Myriad Of Issues

Marriage and pre-marriage counseling also are available at A Better You. Pre-marriage counseling is for couples serious about marriage, especially those who want to be sure they are compatible regarding everyday life issues such as finances, children and religion.

“We discuss specific things, like how much debt a person is bringing into the marriage, bank accounts and whether they will be joint or separate, whether they want children and when they might want them, religion and the role it plays in their lives,” Fink says. “These issues need to be discussed (before marriage) and I ask my clients to be up front about them.”

She also treats depression and anxiety disorders and adheres to a philosophy of exhausting all treatment options before resorting to referring the patient to a psychiatrist for a possible medication prescription.

“Not everyone who comes to counseling needs to be on medication,” she states. “But, if I see a need for a client to see a specialist and be considered for medication, I refer out to some excellent psychiatrists and psychologists.” She says that the doctors she recommends share a philosophy of care similar to her own.

Fink is an advocate of cognitive behavioral therapy, which encourages people to view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them more effectively. In other words, you can change patterns of behavior by changing the way you think.

“I believe in trying to give people the skills they need to deal with their problems,” Fink explains. “It’s like coaching someone through certain areas of their life.”

For example, she currently counsels many young college graduates who have moved back home to live with their parents because they can’t find jobs. These young adults worry about what they are going to do with their lives and Fink can help them.

It’s also common for her to counsel young children who fret about competing in sports and stress out about letting their team down. The sport they once loved ceases to be a source of fun because it creates so much anxiety for them. They may withdraw or become irritable and more prone to fighting.

“We have a great community, but because we have so many family activities available in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, there is no down time (for many families),” Fink says. “Parents are usually well-intentioned, but they are actually just giving their kids everything they (the parents) wanted when they were children.”

She says these parents end up doing a disservice to their children because the kids sometimes are too busy to just enjoy being a kid.

Fink and her husband, Ben, who live in Hunter’s Green in New Tampa, allow their children, daughter Sydney, 9, and son Benjamin, 5, to partake in two activities a week.

“If they had their way, they’d have something every night,” Fink states, noting that she encourages them to explore a variety of sports and other activities so they can determine their individual likes and dislikes.


A Knowledgeable, Caring Staff

Fink’s practice includes interns Jennifer Palmer and Dustin Robbins, who both also have Master’s degrees and are working toward obtaining their own counseling licenses. Two years of counseling work under the supervision of a qualified supervisor are required , a title Fink holds. Robbins has a lot of experience dealing with adolescents and anger management, while Palmer addresses autism issues and other problems through play therapy, sometimes using a live pet rat named Sweet Pea.

“Autistic children often have a problem with touch, especially people touching them, but they’ll let Sweet Pea walk up and down their arm. It gives them a sense of empathy for another living creature,” Fink explains.

Fink, who has been licensed since 2003 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Anderson College, Anderson, IN, and a Master’s degree in counseling from Webster University in Ocala (satellite campus), says she maintains strict standards in dealing with the laws and ethics of the field, emphasizing to her staff that everything they do must be in the client’s best interest. If they feel they are unable to provide the best treatment, they refer clients to other therapists.

Fink notes that the word “therapy” shouldn’t scare you into thinking you can’t afford it. For an hour of confidential counseling, Fink charges a flat rate of $75, an amount many folks spend on a dinner out. Fink says it comes down to priorities: “It’s not hard to spend $10 on a trip through the McDonald’s drive-through. Do that several times a week, and it starts to add up. It’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important in your life.”

For an appointment or additional information, call 817-5468 or visit

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