JFS Orlando goes the extra mile in helping others


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.

Through the generous grants and donations from its many supporters, Jewish Family Services Orlando has recently expanded its Counseling, Growth and Development Program and is building on its foundation of licensed professional counselors. The team of five therapists, overseen by JFS Orlando's Clinical Therapist Supervisor Teresa Brown, MSW, LCSW, provide couples, family, children/teen and group mental health counseling. JFS Orlando also has increased the number of insurance panels it can accept, and partners diligently with agencies in the community to increase referral sources.

"Our therapists have a variety of backgrounds and utilize various therapeutic modalities and philosophies," said Brown. "During the intake process, I place clients with the therapist that best meets the needs of the client and client concerns. Each therapist provides something a little different and I think that makes the services richer and more holistic for providing services to the community and our clients."

Brown, a licensed clinical social worker, likes the holistic approach to counseling. "If the basic needs aren't met, you can't focus on the next level of need," she explained. And this is why she was attracted to JFS, because within this facility an individual or couple or family can have all their needs met.

JFS also offers one of the most cost-effective programs in the area, accepting most insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid and using a sliding scale based on income and how many people are in a household.

"We try to make it as affordable as possible," Brown stated.

The diverseness of the therapists is a plus because of the variety of clients who have different needs and issues. It has been said that life is like a roller coaster ride-everyone experiences the ride differently: While some cling tightly to the handlebars, terrified; others let themselves go in the ups and downs of life, completely enthralled in the experience.

"I am very impressed with our therapists. There is no one way to treat someone," Brown explained. "Every issue is different, every family is different."

Each counselor has a caseload of between seven to 10 clients at any given time. How long they work with each case depends on the progress made. "Our goal is not to keep people in therapy forever, but to help them with what they came in for," Brown explained.

With this in mind, JFS Orlando places its therapist in their areas of expertise.

Daniel Fisher, Ed.S., LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor. He works with teens 14 years of age to adults, helping them identify issues in their lives through the use of Choice Theory and Reality Therapy. Through Fisher's approach, his clients develop a well-rounded approach to making decisions, thus improving their lives. He has experience in helping young people through change of life issues that include college entrance, career guidance and identity issues as they become adults. "His clients love working with him. They love his style of therapy," Brown said.

Working closely with Fisher is Marlene Schiro, LMHC. Also a licensed mental health counselor, she has practiced in Central Florida for 30 years and has helped clients struggling through grief, loss and depression.

Encouraging her clients to stay focused on their priorities and goals, she said that therapy is "like peeling off the layers of the onion to find their true, genuine and authentic self they were born to be."

She also has had great success with her clients in dealing with the issues that cause addiction. Schiro helps her clients in recovery by dealing with the issues that led to drug abuse.

JFS Orlando does not offer drug rehabilitation, however the therapists do work with clients who are in recovery.

"They have to be clean for 30 days or longer," stated Brown, who makes sure potential clients are not still using, or verbally saying they aren't using. She emphasized that they don't turn people away, but will refer them to an agency that can help them.

That includes any situation. If someone calls JFS with a need that the agency is not able to fulfill, the staff will go out of their way to point them to the right agency that can help them.

"We spend the extra few minutes it takes to help get a resource for anyone who calls in needing assistance," Brown said.

Barbara Coffee, Ph.D, ABD, LMFT, works one-on-one with families and couples. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist. The ABD stands for "all but dissertation," and she is currently working toward completing her Ph.D., but this doesn't stop her from being an expert in the field of couples counseling, family therapy and child abuse issues. She helps her clients discover that they have within themselves everything they need to succeed, to overcome anxiety, depression or relationship stress.

She believes that relationships are really what life is all about. "When we know how to develop and maintain healthy relationships, our life is so much richer."

Carla Fischer, MA, LMHC, a licensed mental health couselor, has used her extensive travel experiences to understand various cultures. Bilingual in English, Spanish and German, she approaches mental health with an open heart and mind and uses body centering or emotional-centered therapy to help her clients, who range in age from 4 years through teenager, develop positive self-esteem.

Stacey Greenberg, MSW, LCSW, in tandem with Fischer, works with children. She specializes in clinical issues related to adoption, foster care, attachment and adjustment to family changes. She also works with adults 65 and older.

Both Fischer and Greenberg are excited about the prospect of developing a teen support group that will cover topics such as self-image, how to make friends, transitions from one school to another, and bullying, among many other topics.

In addition to a teen support group, other programs are in the planning stages or already set up. With the aid of a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, and in cooperation with Hospice of the Comforter, JFS just started a Grief Support Group on April 5. The program, facilitated by Greenberg and Hospice of the Comforter's bereavement manager, Flavia Cipollaro, LMHC, meets at Congregation Ohev Shalom from 10:30 a.m.- 11:45 a.m. each Tuesday for six weeks.

Another new support group is a Transitions Support Group, which will be offered at The Roth Family Jewish Community Center, May 12-June 16, facilitated by Daniel Fisher. "We are all going through transition all our lives-employment changes, retirement, getting older, marriage, divorce. There are common things in all transitions-common, but different issues. This group will discuss how we cope with change, transitions," said Brown, who is excited about this new group, which will be open to all ages. "I see such potential and how groups really help with connecting those in the community, and learning different coping skills that will transcend to different parts of their lives."

To learn more about these programs as well as all the services provided by JFS Orlando, visit http://www.jfsorlando.org.


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