Outpatient Counseling Services Profile

RU 311 Outpatient Counseling Services

The Outpatient Counseling program provides counseling services with adults who are having mental health issues.  This may include individual, couple, group and family therapy.  Our goal is short-term solution focus and clients are expected to be active participants in this process.  The Therapists truly need to be experts in their approach with clients as in counseling not one size fits all.  They may see clients who are having difficulties dealing with a life stressor in one session to helping someone work through issues of trauma or depression or a mood disorder in the next session.  The Therapist needs to be able to assess each client’s needs and find the approach that works best for that individual or family.   The agency should be proud to know that they have very caring, dedicated, and professional staff working in the Outpatient Counseling program.

Currently there are 5 full time Therapists and one Master level Student Intern.  All the Therapists are either Registered Mental Health Counselors working towards licensure or are License.

Ben Buckman is our Marriage and Family Therapist and has been with the agency for 4 years.  He works well with difficult families and has a way about him that puts even the most anxious client at ease. Besides seeing clients individually he also conducts a weekly crisis group that is open to any active Northside client.

Shari Jacob is a newly Licensed Mental Health Counselor and she too has been with the agency for 4 years, starting out as an Intake Assessor. While here she has received her Master’s and is currently working on her Doctorate. She has a very calming approach.  She works well with clients who have experience trauma, and sees them individually and also in a group setting.

Amanda Tatko is a Registered Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.   Before coming to the Outpatient program she worked at Northside’s CSU.  Amanda works well with clients who have experienced loss.   She is very quiet, but beneath the quiet is someone with a very funny sense of humor.   Amanda co-facilitates the Smoking Cessation classes here at Northside.

Kathy Rivera-Butler is our Senior Therapist. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.  Her expertise is in Smoking Cessation but also in Post Partum and Maternal  Depression.  Kathy is the program’s Caretaker and always knows exactly when to bring the cookies and the chocolate when the stress levels are high. Kathy co-facilitates the Smoking Cessation classes along with Amanda.

Michelle Byall is a Registered Mental Health Counselor and is also a CAP (Certified Addiction Professional).  She is also a Certified E Therapist.   She brings a wealth of experience to the agency regarding substance abuse previously working in inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs.  She currently conducts a weekly substance abuse group for clients.  She appears all formal, but has a fun personality.

Eric Brotherton is our Student Intern who is currently working on his master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.  He is currently here 2 days a week, but soon will be here full time.  He is very engaging and very eager to learn. He is still investigating  the clients he finds interesting and challenging to work with.

Submitted by Denise Dydowicz

PhoneFriend Volunteers Listen and Help

Since 1984, the PhoneFriend program at Northside has been answering the calls of “latchkey” elementary school kids who need homework asssitance or just someone to talk with while in self care. Kids can hear stories or jokes and know they have a safe, caring friend on the other end of the line.

High school students volunteer after school and are trained to engage the caller, be an active listener and be aware of any signs of distress. Volunteers often develop friendships with the “regular” callers and learn valuable social and communication skills themselves.

Currently, five PhoneFriend volunteers serve on the PhoneFriend Student Volunteer Board, which meets monthly and brainstorms ideas to great more awareness in the elementary schools and also, extra volunteer opportinuites for the summer, when the PhoneFriend lines are closed.

In the fall, volunteers will make appearances in our target schools and promote the program. They will host a “pep rally” and distribute flyers, sticker and keychains.

If you or someone you know is interesting in being a PhoneFriend voluteeer, call Cheir Knapp, Director at 813.975.1896.


Children & The Power of Art

Children and youth are resilient, and there is no better time to celebrate their resiliency than the Winter Holidays. Northside Mental Health Center celebrates the resiliency of children and youth every day of the year. Our outpatient department serves approximately 1,200 children and youth residing in the Tampa Bay Area.

This year our department’s therapists invited those they served from ages five to seventeen to participate in an expressive arts project to decorate the outpatient area with a gallery for the holiday season. Continue reading