Reflections of Hope – A Year in Review 2016 – January 2017



A Message From Our Director: Denisse Centeno Lamas

As we approach the end of the year, we recognize how difficult 2016 has been to our Central Florida Community. This past year surprised us all with inexcusable situations that intended to instill fear and to crumble our character; but instead, they have challenged us to rethink our priorities and reaffirm our mission.  We have seen the resilience of our community as we continue to grow united to overcome these difficult circumstances. During the month of June, right after the incident at Pulse, the help and solidarity was overwhelming.  The love and support was shown in many ways – through supplies, sharing of goods and voluntary service, among others.  To all the organizations, churches, families and persons that participated, our most heartfelt thanks.  We wished we had kept a log with every name to recognize you individually.

We are also extremely grateful for the community partners that have helped us in providing services to those in need. In addition, we thank the agencies that continue to  provide financial assistance to enable us to facilitate groups and individual sessions to survivors, family of victims or community members impacted by the tragedy at Pulse.

These include:

  • Central Florida Cares System that has been supporting all the clients without insurance or any form of payment.
  • The Bureau of Victim Compensation that has assisted 14 clients.
  • Since September, the Mental Health Association of Central Florida has assisted 9 clients.
  • The Central Florida Foundation who provided a grant sponsored by United Way and Orlando United Assistance Program to cover services starting November 29, 2016.

We understand that we are still healing and recovering from Pulse. But we are also stronger and animated. At Hispanic Family Counseling, we look forward to 2017. In the meantime, we want to once again express our gratitude for the privilege to help and to assist those in need.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Denisse Centeno Lamas

Hating My Life with Bipolar Disorder

Hating My Life with Bipolar Disorder

Recently, I wrote a Facebook post and someone said it indicated that I hate my life. This is not something I said, but hating a life with bipolar disorder is a pretty easy thing to do. But I have to be clear on something: I don’t just have one life – none of us do. So saying “I hate my life,” is a blanket statement that just isn’t true. It’s a judgment, and it’s not fair.

My Facebook Post on “Hating My Life”

This is what I wrote on Facebook:

So, people think I’m magical. People constantly ask me how a person with bipolar can write a book and do what I do. I totally get this. I guess I make it look easy.

It really isn’t. It’s really impossibly hard.

I want people to know I’m not magical. I’m struggling. It is extremely hard. I do my best to do my job, but that doesn’t make it easy. I often feel like everything is falling apart because of the bipolar — just like everyone else.

In short, while some would consider me “high-functioning,” that doesn’t mean bipolar isn’t trying to kill me one cell at a time.

In this Facebook post, I was trying to tell people – my fans mostly – that I’m human, and just like them, I have troubles with bipolar disorder. And, just like them, bipolar disorder is a very hard thing to fight. I did this because some people put me on a pedestal and I just wanted to make it clear that, no, I don’t live there. Note, that nowhere in that post did I say I hate my life.

Interestingly, some people commented on this post that I should actually share more of my personal struggles than I do.

However, one commenter had this to say:

I’ve been reading your work for a long time now, and there’s a running theme of ‘I hate myself, I don’t deserve happiness, My life is terrible’. It’d really get me down if you were the only bipolar blogger I followed. I’m glad you help people, but I’m saddened by how much you seem to despise your life. I mean, I know children don’t equal happiness, but you are voluntarily taking your genes off the market because of your disorder, you don’t think vacationing with bipolar disorder is a good idea because it can disrupt your routine and trigger an episode, and then this post. Those are just a few episodes I can think of off the top of my head where you share your misery with the masses. I mean, I’m really sorry you’re struggling atm, but it seems like you’re struggling all the time. I’m bipolar too, and I also struggle with episodes of decompensation, and yet I don’t hate my life, at least not any more than the average Joe.

And I have a few things to say about that comment.

“I Hate Myself, I Don’t Deserve Happiness, My Life Is Awful”

Okay, so, yes, that post I made on Facebook is a tough one, but, in my opinion, it’s balanced out by the oodles and oodles of writing I do on bipolar disorder. I discuss absolutely everything – from myself to the condition to pretty much everything else you can think of. And while bipolar depression can make me think I hate myself and it can make me think that I don’t deserve happiness and make me think that my life is awful,  these things are not empirically true, and I’m always one to state that. I have said over and over that the bipolar brain is sick and tells these sorts of lies while the mind is not and can fight them.


It's easy to hate a life with bipolar disorder but if you hate your life with bipolar, does that really mean you hate your whole life?I Hate My Life

Let me be clear about something, I have two lives (well, more actually, but for the sake of this exercise, let’s say two): there’s Natasha’s life, easily described by biographical details, and there’s my bipolar life, dictated by symptoms. These are not the same thing.

Now Natasha’s life is fine. If you were to look at the biographical details of my life, you would see that. I live in a condo. I have friends. I brunch. I have two fabu cats. There’s really nothing to hate there. Yes, Natasha’s life has issues (like a dead fireplace I’m going It's easy to hate a life with bipolar disorder but if you hate your life with bipolar, does that really mean you hate your whole life?to have to go into debt to replace) but these issues are no direr than anyone else’s – mental illness or not.

On the other hand, there’s Natasha’s bipolar life. This is a horrible thing indeed. This life is full of symptoms, side effects, pain and suffering. This is a life that is almost always sick to some degree. This is a life that no one should ever have to live. And yes, I hate this life terribly.

But, as I said, my bipolar life is not my whole life. And, yes, sometimes I talk from a bipolar life perspective and sometimes I don’t. But I’m not confused about what I hate.

“I Struggle with Episodes and I Don’t Hate My Life”

Well, isn’t this commenter lucky? This commenter has “episodes of decompensation.” Lucky her. This commenter doesn’t have live almost every day with some degree of bipolar. Lucky her. It’s incredibly unfair to compare lives when one has episodes of bipolar and one has an ongoing illness.

And I see this all the time. People judge me (and others, of course) for struggling all the time. It really isn’t my fault that bipolar has taken over most of my life – that is the bipolar’s fault. This judgment is unfair and hurtful. These people have no idea how lucky they are – and it’s just luck. They could be as sick as I am and they’re not. That’s the genetic lottery. They got a better hand dealt to them then I did.

Lucky them.

And I wish they would appreciate that luck instead of judging me for not being so lucky.

I Hate My Life – Sort Of

Yes, when it comes down to it, I hate my life with bipolar. I hate my bipolar brain. I don’t hate the parts of it that are good, but I hate the parts of it that are sick and bad. And that’s okay. It’s okay to say you hate your life and yet still appreciate all the good things you have. And no one deserves to be judged for expressing themselves in that way.


How liars create the illusion of truth

Repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda, says psychologist Tom Stafford.

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Among psychologists something like this known as the “illusion of truth” effect. Here’s how a typical experiment on the effect works: participants rate how true trivia items are, things like “A prune is a dried plum”. Sometimes these items are true (like that one), but sometimes participants see a parallel version which isn’t true (something like “A date is a dried plum”).

After a break – of minutes or even weeks – the participants do the procedure again, but this time some of the items they rate are new, and some they saw before in the first phase. The key finding is that people tend to rate items they’ve seen before as more likely to be true, regardless of whether they are true or not, and seemingly for the sole reason that they are more familiar.

So, here, captured in the lab, seems to be the source for the saying that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth. And if you look around yourself, you may start to think that everyone from advertisers to politicians are taking advantage of this foible of human psychology.

But a reliable effect in the lab isn’t necessarily an important effect on people’s real-world beliefs. If you really could make a lie sound true by repetition, there’d be no need for all the other techniques of persuasion.

One obstacle is what you already know. Even if a lie sounds plausible, why would you set what you know aside just because you heard the lie repeatedly?

Recently, a team led by Lisa Fazio of Vanderbilt University set out to test how the illusion of truth effect interacts with our prior knowledge. Would it affect our existing knowledge? They used paired true and un-true statements, but also split their items according to how likely participants were to know the truth (so “The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” is an example of a “known” items, which also happens to be true, and “The Atlantic Ocean is the largest ocean on Earth” is an un-true item, for which people are likely to know the actual truth).

Their results show that the illusion of truth effect worked just as strongly for known as for unknown items, suggesting that prior knowledge won’t prevent repetition from swaying our judgements of plausibility.

To cover all bases, the researchers performed one study in which the participants were asked to rate how true each statement seemed on a six-point scale, and one where they just categorized each fact as “true” or “false”. Repetition pushed the average item up the six-point scale, and increased the odds that a statement would be categorized as true. For statements that were actually fact or fiction, known or unknown, repetition made them all seem more believable.

At first this looks like bad news for human rationality, but – and I can’t emphasize this strongly enough – when interpreting psychological science, you have to look at the actual numbers.

What Fazio and colleagues actually found, is that the biggest influence on whether a statement was judged to be true was… whether it actually was true. The repetition effect couldn’t mask the truth. With or without repetition, people were still more likely to believe the actual facts as opposed to the lies.

This shows something fundamental about how we update our beliefs – repetition has a power to make things sound more true, even when we know differently, but it doesn’t over-ride that knowledge

The next question has to be, why might that be? The answer is to do with the effort it takes to being rigidly logical about every piece of information you hear. If every time you heard something you assessed it against everything you already knew, you’d still be thinking about breakfast at supper-time. Because we need to make quick judgements, we adopt shortcuts – heuristics which are right more often than wrong. Relying on how often you’ve heard something to judge how truthful something feels is just one strategy. Any universe where truth gets repeated more often than lies, even if only 51% vs 49% will be one where this is a quick and dirty rule for judging facts.

If repetition was the only thing that influenced what we believed we’d be in trouble, but it isn’t. We can all bring to bear more extensive powers of reasoning, but we need to recognize they are a limited resource. Our minds are prey to the illusion of truth effect because our instinct is to use short-cuts in judging how plausible something is. Often this works. Sometimes it is misleading.

Once we know about the effect we can guard against it. Part of this is double-checking why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly? This is why scholars are so mad about providing references – so we can track the origin on any claim, rather than having to take it on faith.

But part of guarding against the illusion is the obligation it puts on us to stop repeating falsehoods. We live in a world where the facts matter, and should matter. If you repeat things without bothering to check if they are true, you are helping to make a world where lies and truth are easier to confuse. So, please, think before you repeat.


Hispanic Family Counseling – Our Journey after PULSE

The first two weeks…orlando

The morning of June 12th impacted not only the city of Orlando, but the entire World. It was a moment where everyone let all hate aside and stood up for love and humanity. The City, the Country, the World was #OrlandoStrong.

Hispanic Family Counseling, immediately recognized that the City needed our help. With certified, culturally competent therapists, the first two weeks we were able to provide:

  • Free crisis intervention
  • Free access to our office
  • Free visits to counsel those in need at their workplaces, schools or their home

This translated to 960 hours of community service which impacted 312 people in critical need.

At Hispanic Family Counseling we make sure that the mental health services provided to our Hispanic community are of upmost quality. As a result of the bonding created through these interactions, therapists were invited and attended viewings of families who they assisted and have been servicing since the tragedy.

Hispanic Family Counseling has been working with 44 survivors and family victims several times a week, or as needed since the tragedy of June 12th at Pulse Nightclub occurred.

crisis intervention free signOur Community Responds to the Call

After PULSE, many victims were left without jobs and little to no money for rent and car payments. Transportation itself became a huge challenge. The Ford Fund, provided an SUV to mobilize clients and therapists and better facilitate their needs during these difficult times.

We have also distributed $1,560 in gift cards as well as several bus passes and a number of goods and donations received from:

  • The Center in Orlando
  • University of Central Florida
  • Alley/Wise Family
  • IASWG  – International Association for Social Work with Groups
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Ken Macalintal
  • City of Osceola
  • Hope & Help

Giving back to the Community was in full effect in the city of Orlando. Everyone took a stand and united to help one another. #HispaFam provided or facilitated the following:

  • Counseling services at the Aveda School
  • A Team of 8 counselors and staff who participated at the Latin Vigil on June 24, 2016
  • A booth set up at a 3-day expo event for the largest Hispanic Nonprofit
    Organization in the Country: National Council La Raza 2016.
  • Attendance at multiple conferences to enrich our knowledge to better work
    for our Hispanic community. hispafam group
  • Two weeks of camp for children grades 3rd to 12th –We have been able to see the growth and development of the kids that we have continue to
    work on helping them understand boundaries, the importance of diversity and how to improve their social skills and deal with anger.

HFC in the News

HFC has conducted community outreach by participating in 23 press conferences and interviews including among others:

  • CNN en Español
  • Telemundo Orlando,
  • Orlando Sentinel
  • La Nueva 990AM radio station – where we educated radio listeners on how to better understand the effects of tragedy and how to cope with depression and PTSD among other topics.
  • Our Executive Director, Denisse Centeno-Lamas, was a panelist for a press conference that also hosted Dolores Huerta, a recognized American labor leader and civil rights activist.

HFC Marches with the Community

Not only is giving back to the Community important, but so is being involved with different entities, businesses and organizations willing to make an impact in the community by assisting them with their dire needs. Among the many meetings taken to assist survivors, we have been involved with:

  • The Mexican Consulate and families affected by the Pulse tragedy
    • Assist them with any legal matters as well as offering our counseling services if needed
  • Several meetings with the Pulse Orlando Mobilization Campaign.
  • Several meetings with National Council of La Raza, and her President Janet
    nclr blog pic

    Great interaction with our community at our NCLR 2016 Conference Booth held at the Orange County Convention Center


    • Issues Hispanic families are going through and how we are able to assist them.
  • Discussion with the New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito
  • Attended meetings about identifying the gaps and strategize ways to help our community, with
    • Central Florida Foundation
    • Hispanic Federation and their new project Somos Orlando
    • American Red Cross
    • United Way
    • University of Central Florida
    • National Association of Social Work
    • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Collaborated with the University of Central Florida (UCF) School of Social Work to provide bilingual group counseling for Pulse survivors facilitated by, UCF Professor, Dr. Olga Molina.
  • Memorandum of understanding to better assist our community with:
    • Mental Health Association of Central Florida
    • Hispanic Health Initiative

HFC Leads by Examplehot lunches

At Hispanic Family Counseling, bettering the quality of life for our clients is what we live by, but we also believe in best practice.  Therefore, we responsibly take care of our greatest assets who are our therapists and staff.

To provide the best service to our community, especially during crisis intervention, we have been offering the following for our team:

  • Culturally Competent LGBTQ training for all staff/therapists
  • EMDR training for 2 therapist
  • Yoga
  • Debriefing groups for our therapists and staff by Dr. Nancy Miller
  • Ear-acupuncture — provided by Community Acupuncture of Orlando
  • Massages — provided to therapists and staff from School of Holistic Living.
  • Partnership with UCF to provide bilingual debriefing for counselors by Dr. Olga Molina
  • Hispanic Health Initiative invited #HispaFam for a night of laughter with Elizardi Castro
  • Spiritual outlet with the Christian Puertorrican singer Noemi Luz Bonilla
  • Lunches distribution by Well Care, Red Lobster, and Lisa Colon among others

At Hispanic Family Counseling, we take pride in aiding survivors and family victims of this tragedy. Our culturally competent, highly trained professionals not only counsel, but educate and bring awareness to our community. This evinces our motto of: bettering the quality of life for all families and individuals suffering from Mental Health conditions.

Two months after PULSE —

Message from our Executive Director:

During the past two months our community has been hurting, we continue to mourn. We experienced probably the most traumatic event of our lives.  It has been extremely emotional. It also feels as a personal attack given that all this happened in my community, to my people.

The level of frustration, pain and hurt is surreal. HOWEVER, I believe that we are a resilient community, and while we continue to grieve, I do believe that we will heal, never forget, but heal. I am very grateful for all the help, donations, and assistance we have received over the last two months. There have been many donations provided by community leaders, from large institutions to humble individuals. We value and humbly accept your contributions and promise to channel them to those in need to the best of our abilities.  Thanks for your support to #HispaFam.

Our Compromise, Our Vision…

Hispanic Family Counseling was created in 2012, with the desire and passion to help our community. The Latino community of Central Florida has substantially new pics webgrown over the last decade and there are not many agencies that specifically target the necessities that we have as Hispanics, starting with the language barriers, but beyond that helping with the acculturation and assimilation process.

Our vision could not be more precise for this difficult moment: “To be the haven of strength to those in despair and help them embark on a journey of hope where perseverance coexists with education, truth lives with optimism and healing is the destination.”

We are here to serve our community; we are here to serve you.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at 407-382-9079 or if there is anything we can do to help you.

With peace and love,

Denisse Centeno-Lamas


Hispanic Family Counseling- Nuestra Trayectoria  Después de PULSE

Las primeras dos semanas…

La mañana del 12 de Junio llegó con una tragedia que  impactó no solamente a la ciudad de Orlando pero también al mundo entero. Fue un momento en el cual todo el mundo decidió dejar el odio y la injusticia atrás y poner el amor y la humanidad primero. La ciudad, el país, y el mundo estuvo #OrlandoStrong.

Cuando nos enteramos de lo ocurrido, en Hispanic Family Counseling  nos dimos cuenta que la ciudad necesitaba de nuestra ayuda. Con terapistas culturalmente competentes y certificados, en las primeras dos semanas pudimos proveer:

  • Servicios gratis de intervención de crisis
  • Acceso gratuito a nuestra oficina
  • Servicios gratuitos en oficinas, lugares de trabajo, escuelas y en los hogares

Los servicios ofrecidos fueron equivalentes a 960 horas de intervención directa, las cuales impactaron a 312 personas necesitadas.

En “Hispanic Family Counseling”  mantenemos una relación personalizada y nos aseguramos de que los servicios brindados sean de calidad.  Como resultado de la buena relación creada con los terapistas,  éstos fueron personalmente invitados por sus clientes a participar de los velorios y/o servicios fúnebres de sus familiares y/o seres queridos.

HFC continúa trabajando varias veces a la semana, según sea necesario con 44 sobrevivientes y/o familiares de las víctimas de la tragedia ocurrida el 12 de junio en la discoteca Pulse en Orlando.

Nuestra Comunidad responde al llamado

Después de PULSE, muchos sobrevivientes perdieron sus trabajos y quedaron con poco o nada de dinero para pagar rentas, cuotas de carro y cubrir sus necesidades. La transportación se convirtió en un gran desafío. Gracias a “Ford Fund”, quienes nos  proveyeron una camioneta para transportar a clientes y facilitar los servicios necesarios en tiempos difíciles.

Hemos distribuido $1,560 en tarjetas de regalo, pases de transportación, artículos y donaciones recibidas de:

  • The Center in Orlando
  • University of Central Florida
  • Alley/Wise Family
  • ISWLG (Asociación International para Trabajadores Sociales con Grupos)
  • Hispanic Federation
  • Ken Macalintal
  • Ciudad de Osceola
  • Hope & Help

El respaldo de la comunidad fue inmenso y todos se unieron para ayudarse los unos a los otros. #Hispafam proveyó:

  • Servicios de consejería en la escuela Aveda.
  • Apoyo comunitario – Un grupo de 8 terapistas y personal administrativo participaron en la Vigilia Latina el 24 de Junio.
  • Exposición de servicios – HFC tuvo un puesto por 3 dias en la exposición de la Organización Hispana sin fines de lucro mas grande del país, National Council La Raza 2016.
  • Asistencia a múltiples conferencias para enriquecer nuestro conocimiento de cómo trabajar mejor con nuestra comunidad Hispana.
  • Consejería grupal -2 semanas de campamento de verano para niños de 3° a 12° grado -Pudimos ver su crecimiento y desarrollo mientras trabajaban en establecer límites, habilidades sociales, control de la ira y la importancia de la diversidad.

HFC en la Prensa

El alcance comunitario fue hecho público por medio de nuestra participación en 23 ruedas de prensa y entrevistas con varias entidades, tales como:

  • CNN en Español
  • Telemundo Orlando
  • Orlando Sentinel- el periódico local #1.
  • Emisora La Nueva 990AM- Tuvimos la oportunidad de educar a oyentes de cómo mejorar su comprensión de los efectos de la tragedia, cómo lidiar con  la depresión  y con el trastorno de estrés postraumático, entre varios temas.
  • Nuestra Directora Ejecutiva, Denisse Centeno-Lamas estuvo en una rueda de prensa junto a Dolores Huerta, líder reconocida de trabajadores Americanos y activista de derechos civiles.

HFC Marcha con la Comunidad

El dar a la comunidad es tan importante como involucrarnos con diferentes entidades, negocios y organizaciones que están dispuestos a hacer un impacto en la comunidad asistiendo con sus necesidades. Participamos de muchas reuniones  para ayudar a los sobrevivientes, algunas de éstas con:

  • El Consulado de Méjico y familias afectadas por la tragedia en Pulse
    • Asistirlos con asuntos legales y ofrecer nuestros servicios de consejería
  • Campaña de Movilización Pulse Orlando
  • NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza) y su Presidenta Janet Murgia
    • Problemas que las familias Hispanas están enfrentando y cómo se les puede ayudar.
  • Conversación con Melissa Mark Viverito, Vocera del Concejo de Nueva York
  • Reuniones para identificar los vacíos y buscar estrategias de cómo ayudar nuestra comunidad:
    • Central Florida Foundation
    • Federación Hispana y su nuevo Proyecto Somos Orlando
    • Cruz Roja Americana
    • United Way
    • Universidad de la Florida Central
    • Sociedad Nacional de TrabajadoresSociales
    • Fundación Americana para la Prevención del Suicidio
  • Colaboramos con el Colegio de Trabajo Social de la Universidad Central de la Florida (UCF) para proveer grupos bilingües para los sobrevivientes de Pulse dirijidos por la Profesora Olga Molina.
  • Memorandum de entendimiento para mejor asistir a nuestra comunidad con:
    • Asociación de la Salud Mental de la Florida Central
    • Iniciativa de Salud Hispana

HFC Habla con su Ejemplo

En Hispanic Family Counseling, mejorar la calidad de vida de nuestros clientes es nuestra meta principal, pero también creemos en  las mejores prácticas profesionales;  por eso, es indispensable cuidar de nuestro más valioso tesoro que son nuestros terapistas y personal administrativo.

A fin de proveer el mejor servicio a nuestra comunidad, y especialmente durante intervenciones de crisis, hemos involucrado a nuestro equipo de trabajo en las siguientes actividades:

  • Adiestramiento LGBTQ para todo nuestro equipo (personal administrativo y terapistas)
  • Adiestramiento de EMDR (Desensibilización y reprocesamiento por medio de movimiento ocular) para 2 terapistas
  • Yoga
  • Grupos de intervención para nuestros terapistas y personal por la Dra. Nancy Miller
  • Acupuntura de oreja provisto por Community Acupuncture of Orlando
  • Masajes- provisto a nuestros terapistas y personal por School of Holistic Living
  • Asociación con UCF para proveer intervención bilingüe para terapistas por Dra. Olga Molina
  • Salida espiritual con la cantante Puertorriqueña Noemi Luz Bonilla
  • Almuerzos distribuidos por WellCare, Red Lobster, Lisa Colón y otros.

En Hispanic Family Counseling, nos enorgullece poder ayudar a los sobrevivientes y familiares de víctimas de la tragedia. Nuestros profesionales, culturalmente competentes y con alto nivel de entrenamiento, no sólo dan consejería; también educan y promueven la concientización en nuestra comunidad. Toda esta labor es realizada  con nuestro lema en mente, mejorar la calidad de vida de todas las familias y personas que sufren de condiciones de la salud mental.

Dos Meses después de PULSE- Mensaje de Nuestra Directora Ejecutiva:

En los últimos dos meses nuestra comunidad ha estado dolida, estamos en luto! Hemos vivido un evento que probablemente ha sido el más traumático de nuestras vidas.  Ha sido emocionalmente muy fuerte para todos. También lo he sentido como un ataque personal al ser parte de esta comunidad.  Esta  tragedia le ocurrió a mi comunidad Hispana y a mi gente.

El nivel de frustración, el dolor y el vacío es enorme; PERO, sé que somos una comunidad  fuerte, y mientras continuamos el duelo y nunca lo olvidaremos, seremos capaces de sanar y perdonar. Estoy muy agradecida por la ayuda, donaciones y asistencia que hemos recibido en los últimos dos meses. Han sido muchas  las ayudas de grandes y poderosas instituciones para gente humilde y en necesidad. Valoramos y humildemente aceptamos sus contribuciones con la promesa de canalizarlas a los que lo necesitan. Gracias por su apoyo a #Hispafam.

Nuestro Compromiso, Nuestra Visión…

Hispanic Family Counseling fue creado en el año 2012, con el deseo y pasión de ayudar a nuestra comunidad. La comunidad Latina en la Florida Central ha crecido sustancialmente en la última década y no habían muchas agencias específicamente dirigidas a las necesidades que tenemos como Hispanos. No solo la barrera del lenguaje sino también ayudar en los procesos de culturización y asimilación.

Nuestra visión no puede ser más precisa en este momento de dificultad: “Ser el pilar de fuerza para los que se encuentran en desesperación y ayudarlos a embarcar en un trayecto de esperanza en la cual la perseverancia coexiste con la educación, la verdad vive con el optimismo y el destino final es sanar.”

Estamos aquí para asistir a nuestra comunidad, estamos aquí para servirle a usted. Por favor, no dude en contactarse con nosotros al (407) 382 -9079 o a través de nuestra página web si hay algo que podamos hacer para ayudarle.

Con mucho amor y paz,

Denisse Centeno-Lamas

A Spark of LOVE for Orlando in the Big Apple

The past month has been a difficult one not only for the City of Orlando but for the entire nation that suffered along with us during the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub the morning of June 12, 2016. Innocent lives were lost and a city was shut down as the pieces to the horrifying nightmare were being put together that early gloomy morning.

At Hispanic Family Counseling, we have been working non-stop to help the surviving victims and their families cope with the tragedy. Our Executive Director, Denisse Centeno-Lamas, alongside other therapists, were the first ones on the scene that morning ready to assist the needs of the desperate people entering the First Unitarian Church where families and First Respondents were present.

As result of the tragedy, Hispanic Family Counseling offered free services for surviving victims and their families for a period of time. The office doors were open to donations from people, businesses and entities from all over, willing to help families in need. We are so thankful to entities like the University of Central Florida, The City of Osceola, The Rosen Hotels, Wellcare, Red Lobster, and others who were ready to bring us meals, water, gift cards and more for us to give away to victims and families. The city really came together for each other and it was a blessing to see the helping hands that were ready to work.



HispaFam too wanted to help the city at a much closer level so we teamed up with #ProyectoSomosOrlando in order to unite with the Hispanic Federation and be one of the culturally competent providers for Mental Health Counseling to those in need after the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy.

Soon #ProyectoSomosOrlando got international recognition with the partnership of Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda once the two agreed to join forces and come together on a song that would impact the world and send a message of LOVE. Proceeds during the first three months of the single “Love Make The World Go Round” are going directly to #ProyectoSomosOrlando which will use the funds to provide free services to those affected by the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub.


HispaFam said present at the live performance on the Today Show in New York as Jennifer Lopez wowed the crowed in her white lace top and high-waisted pants giving the Selena illusion. Lin-Manuel also stole the show with his feature while they circled the lighted panel showing an image of a rainbow-colored globe.


“Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jennifer Lopez perform ‘Love Will Make The World Go Round’, their tribute to the victims of the 11 June gun attack at the Orlando, Florida gay nightclub Pulse, live in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza as part of the ‘Citi Concert Series on NBC’s TODAY Show July 11, 2016. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

The crowed had multicolored flags that were held high and moved to the beat while the song played. At the end, Lopez had everyone in the audience take the hand of the person next to them in and hold it high as the performance came to an emotional end.

It was an emotional sight to see as the crowd and the survivors that were present that day together sang in unison “Love Make The World Go Round” with no care in the world, with a simple smile on their faces. As we continue on living with this reality we just pray and hope for the best and know that as a community we must come together and be there for our fellow Pulse survivors, their families and loved ones.


11 Ways to Cope With The Pulse Orlando Tragedy


The tragedy in Orlando has shaken up the city into uniting and standing up for their city beautiful. Waking up to the news on Sunday, June 12th produced a well of emotions that can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t sure how to manage them.  Our friends at posted a blog recently with 11 Small Ways To Feel Less Helpless This Week From a Trained therapist.  If you’re feeling lost, helpless and alone and don’t know what to do or where to turn, this could be just what the doctor ordered.  It’s going to be a long road. Please, take good care of yourself this week. Seek out the support and resources you may need to deal with how the events in Orlando affected you. We are #OrlandoStrong.


To help you hold the weight of this world, I want to offer some actionable suggestions for things you can do this week, both psychologically and socially. Hopefully, these small things will help you process, feel less helpless, and even help those around you this week:


There’s no such thing as a bad feeling (though some may feel more comfortable than others). Allow yourself to feel today, tomorrow, and this week, and to be with whatever comes up for you around this. Process your feelings safely and constructively.


Connect with your loved ones, your local community, your larger communities (even if by phone or over social media). Share how you’re feeling. Talk it out, let others hold space for you while you hold space for them.


This is so important with news being blasted at us from every angle. Monitor how much news and content about the tragedy you can tolerate before it starts to feel like too much.


Garden, cook, knit, craft, go for a long walk, journal, sit outside in the sun. Do whatever you know helps you feel grounded, safe, and healthy.


Routines and schedules can be incredibly grounding in times of stress. Keep up your daily and weekly rituals.


Moving your body can help process and metabolize the stress and anxiety you may be feeling. Add in an extra walk or two and really make grounding and focusing on your body a priority.


Create art and process your experience through creation.


If you need additional resources, book a session with a therapist, speak to your local clergy, or call up a trusted mentor. Let those who care about you help you.



Donate blood, send money, participate in activism around gun-control laws, help staff a help line, bring food and water to those in line to donate blood.


Check out your local YMCA or church or university offerings to see if they’re hosting a support group for those impacted by the tragedy. If none are offered, consider hosting one with a friend or local helping resource.

11. PRAY.

Yes, pray. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Gaia, or Universal Spirit, close your eyes and ask something greater than you for guidance in troubled times. Receive the support that can come from being in prayer.



10 foods to boost brain power

The month of march is American National Nutrition Month, not only does one need nutrition for your body, but you also need it for your brain as well.

Your brain carries all of the fuel needed to get your body to work so it only makes sense that you feed it the necessary nutrients in order for one to grow and develop.

Eating well is good for your mental as well as your physical health. The brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs or muscles do. Sometimes we wonder which foods are the specific ones to truly make a difference in the motor of our body. Take your notebooks out and have this list handy next to your fridge!

  1. Opt for wholegrains
    • The brain can’t work without energy. In order for one to concentrate, one must have a steady supply of energy in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain.

Grains2. Consume oily fish

  • The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish as EPA and DHA. The following are also good for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and general well-being.

3. Blueberry binge

  • Tufts University concluded that in the United States, the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short term memory loss.

4. Tomatoes on the menu

  • Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, help protect free radical damage to cells which occur in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.

File:Cherry tomatoes.jpg



5. Vitamins galore

  • B- Vitamins: known to reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood.
  • Look for B6, B12 and folic acid: less brain shrinkage compared to subset given placebo treatment.

6. Blackcurrant boost

  • Vitamin C: increase mental agility

7. Pumpkin Seeds

  • Daily amount of zinc: vital for enhancing memory & thinking skills

8. Broccoli:

  • Vitamin K: enhances cognitive function and improves brainpower.

9. Sage:

  • Improves memory loss



10. Nuts for nuts

  • Vitamin E source


Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Hits Record Breaking Goals

This past Thursday the 3rd of March, The Harbor House invited hundreds of people from Orlando and other cities to strap on their stilettos or slip into their blingy flats for the 4th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes presented by Verizon. Whatever your footwear, you were welcome to join in and raise awareness of domestic abuse and the resources available to survivors by strutting through the heart of downtown Orlando, kicking off at the Orange
County Courthouse.

Valeria Morales & Stephanie Santiago-Rolon pictured above with Orlando Magic Dancers after walking a mile in heels! Thank you for supporting the cause #HispaFam ladies!

Patiently gathered in front of the courthouse one would see men in heels, women in heels and even the commissioners of Orlando strutting their most creative shoe designs in hopes to win a prize at the end of the walk too! Teams from local downtown offices, and even families of domestic abuse survivors walked the streets of downtown.

Last year the walk raised more than $24,000 for programs to fight domestic violence. This year was no different, with nearly 350 registered to walk, with your help, they were able to raise more than $40,000!

Because of all of their sponsors: Verizon, Florida Hospital, SeaWorld, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Massey Services; 100% of your donations will benefit the survivors staying at Harbor House.


Spanish Translation:

Los zapatos rojos de tacón alto del alcalde de Orlando Buddy Dyer acaparaban la atención de residentes, empleados y visitantes del centro de la ciudad. Algunos incluso tomaban fotos mientras el alto funcionario — más alto que de costumbre — recorría la milla que separa la Corte del Condado de Orange y el Centro de Historia Regional del Condado de Orange.

Con cada paso, Dyer intentaba mantener el equilibrio sobre su llamativo calzado pero, sobre todo, generar conciencia contra la violencia doméstica, como parte del evento “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Orlando” (“Camine una milla en los zapatos de ella”), realizado por la organización Harbor House of Central Florida. “Esto va más allá de caminar en los zapatos de una mujer. Es un mensaje de que no vamos a tolerar la violencia doméstica en nuestra comunidad”, expresó Dyer en un aparte con El Sentinel, luego de finalizar la caminata.

En total 30 equipos en representación de compañías como Bank of America,SeaWorld y el Orlando City Soccer Club acudieron a la marcha.

Fue precisamente ser parte del grupo formado por la empresa AVT Simulations lo que motivó a Conrad Gámez a realizar el recorrido sobre unos tacones de plataforma y estileto de 6 pulgadas de alto.

El analista militar de raíces mexicanas bromeaba con sus compañeros, mientras trataba de no caerse de unos zapatos de color gris y adornados con brillo.

Sin embargo, al igual que muchas víctimas de abuso doméstico, su sonrisa ocultaba el impacto que recibían sus pies, con cada paso. “Me duele. Ser mujer es hermoso y difícil al mismo tiempo”, dijo Gámez, cuya alegría dio paso a la reflexión, al comparar su jornada en tacones con lo que sufre una mujer abusada. “Entenderlo desde ese punto de vista es increíble. Las mujeres atraviesan muchas dificultades y deberíamos hacer más para ayudarles. Para que no tengan que vivir este tipo de situaciones”, expresó Gámez, residente de Cocoa Beach, de 46 años.

Lamentablemente, la realidad es que entre 2013 y 2014 se registró un aumento de 3.9 por ciento en las llamadas de emergencia vinculadas a casos de violencia doméstica en Florida Central. Esto según un reporte de Harbor House, que estima que 8,404 personas reportaron este tipo de abuso en la región durante ese período.

Por su parte, y aunque calzó zapatos deportivos durante el acto, Felícita Pérez lleva las cicatrices de este mal social en su alma.

En octubre de 2013 su hija Yesenia Suárez y sus nietos Michael y Thalia Otto, de 8 y 9 años, desaparecieron. Las autoridades los dan por muertos.

Aunque sus cuerpos no han sido encontrados, la fiscalía estatal formalizó cargos de asesinato contra Luis Toledo, esposo de la occisa, quien confesó que asesinó a la mujer de 28 años — pero no a los niños.

“Es bien difícil, porque no sé lo que les pasó a mis nietos, a mi hija”, expresó Pérez, quien participó del acto junto a su otra hija, familiares y amistades; unidos en el grupo Justicia para Yesi. “Cada día eso es lo que me da las fuerzas para continuar, porque yo digo: ‘Tengo que encontrar justicia para mi hija. Esto no se puede quedar así’”, aseveró Pérez, conteniendo su tristeza, y quien espera el comienzo del juicio contra Toledo, programado para el 8 de septiembre.

Los fondos recaudados en el evento impulsarán la misión de Harbor House, una organización que según su presidenta, Carol Wick, ha ayudado a 9,000 sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica que huyeron de sus hogares, y a 24,000 más que recibieron servicios de prevención. “La violencia se esconde en la oscuridad, tras puertas cerradas”, expresó la líder de la entidad social, dirigiéndose a los participantes previo al inicio de la caminata.

“Caminamos por aquellas que no han podido salir de las sombras. No están solas. Estamos con ellas. Y cuando [ellas] los vean en televisión y escuchen en los medios de comunicación lo que ustedes han hecho, sepan que lo están haciendo por ellas. Para que tengan fuerzas y escapen de ese abuso”, aseguró Wick.

Out of the Darkness Walk Brings Awareness to the City of Orlando

IMG_8722While the sun rose and warmed up the day, Saturday, February 6th, many people crowded Lake Baldwin Park with t-shirts representing their loved one or their foundation. They represented one cause, everyone on that field had a reason to walk, be it to honor loved ones, raise funds or simply create awareness to save lives.

According to the AFSP, in the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes, claiming more than 39,500 lives each year. “It was amazing to see that everyone had their own support system,” stated a member of HispaFam. Throughout the event, host Jim Payne from WESH News Channel 2 constantly stated alarming facts on the suicide. The alarming statistics grab a hold of their hearts, it is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, leading to one million people attempting suicide annually.

There were a couple ceremonies such as the representation of colored beads, blowing of the bubbles and release of the doves that throughout the event, raised awareness that suicide is a national health problem that takes an enormous toll on family, friends, co-workers, and the entire community.

IMG_8718HispaFam therapists walked around wearing bright orange shirts that said, “You Can Talk To Me” as a sign to let anyone in need know that the therapists were there to listen to their needs. At an event like this, you see people walking in representation of their child, mother, father, husband etc. and you see a whirlwind of emotions. Our highly trained therapists were there to listen and give advice to these souls in need.

AFSP put a goal of $100,000 and with all donations as a whole we were able to raise $102,400! When you participate in an Out of the Darkness Walk you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

The AFSP has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025, are you ready to help? Let’s connect and get involved.

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