Our Story


The Southeast's premier practice caring for your reproductive emotional health.

We are a one-of-a-kind destination for perinatal mental health and wellness serving Florida and the Southeast. We aim to partner with and serve our clients in a comfortable environment where you are able to explore challenging issues and understand your feelings and behaviors.  We strive to help you gain insight, learn practical skills for coping and communicating and take steps towards achieving your goals.

In addition to this specialization, our counseling and medication prescribers also serve teens and general adult mental health.  Call us today to learn more (386) 518-6089.


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We accept referrals from local and regional providers across the southeastern U.S. We believe the best outcomes come from a team approach centered on the patient and child. Better Beginnings is active in the national perinatal mental health community.

We understand that first call can often be difficult.  We are here to answer any questions you may have and care for your unique needs as an individual or couple with your goals in mind.  The therapeutic process is a partnership; clients invite us to partner with them to learn about their needs and work together towards achieving goals of wellness.  

Fees for services/insurance We are “in-network” with many insurances.  We find the best way to learn whether we are what is considered an “in-network” provider with your insurance policy is to call us.  We will then do a free verification of your benefits and let you know before any appointment. We also offer self pay rates and sliding scale.  We strive to work with each individual/family to meet their needs.

Psychiatry out of pocket (self pay) rates:

Initial evaluation $175

Follow-up $110-150

Psychotherapy/counseling out of pocket (self pay) rates:

Initial evaluation $125

Follow-up $110

**We try our best to offer discounted rates if you have extenuating financial circumstances.  Please inquire further.

Other fees: We have additional fees related to document preparation, filling out forms, court involvement, etc.  You or your attorney can call the office to speak with CEO Lauren DePaola further. **With respect to request for court involvement:  You should also be fully aware that testimony given in court or via deposition cannot be solely guaranteed to be in your favor; Better Beginnings can only testify to the facts of the case and professional observation and opinion.

Office Policies- Late cancellations/no show and rescheduling:

Please provide us with at least 48 hours notice to cancel or reschedule (outside of unforeseen emergencies).  This allows us to offer your spot to someone on the wait list.  You will be financially responsible for appointments not cancelled or rescheduled with advance notice, although consideration can sometimes be given for circumstances beyond your control. Cancelling in less than 48 hours before your appointment without an unforeseen emergency/circumstance and missing your appointment will result in the patient being charged a $50 fee.  

Arriving for your session on time:

We try our very best to stay on schedule to respect both your time and the next patient’s time.  If your appointment begins late because you arrived late, please understand that the session will still end at the time it would have normally ended.  

Prescription refills:

During each appointment, you will be given enough refills to last until your next appointment.  We require you attend your next appointment to have medications reviewed and to receive refills as applicable.  It is the PATIENT’S responsibility to keep up with their appointment scheduling in order to obtain timely refills. Discussing a change in medication or requesting a new medication must be done in an appointment with your provider, this CANNOT be done by email or by calling the office and requesting to speak with your provider.  

Better Beginnings' Story

Founder and CEO, Lauren DePaola is on a mission to help women and families suffering through perinatal mental health problems. Having suffered from post-partum depression after the birth of her first child, Lauren understands first hand the struggles many women go through. She advocates in the United States for perinatal mental health and is involved in leading organizations.

Better Beginnings is birthed from this goal to be a center that supports parents through the emotional journey. As a team, we bring all the resources together for your care.  We have physical locations in both Alachua and Orange Park, Florida and offer telehealth/online services for both counseling and psychiatry throughout the state. 

Our Philosophy

When a child comes into this world, its not just a baby that’s born, the parents are “born,” too. We must care for parents’ health for overall healthy outcomes.  This mindset drives how we take care of those who choose us to be partners in their health.

We support you

Through evidence-based tools proven to provide long-lasting relief of emotional health complications, you can go from “surviving” to thriving.  

Key Of Success

We have a passion for the success of growing families. The great news is that the tools to help families are available, we just have let more people know that you are not alone, you can get better.

Founder and CEO

Lauren DePaola

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Social Work from Florida State University.  I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida.  I have lived in Alachua and nearby counties since 1990 and have worked professionally within these communities for over 10 years.  In addition to private practice, I am past President of the Florida chapter of Postpartum Support International (and a local volunteer coordinator), Co-Founder of the Florida Maternal Mental Health Collaborative and founder of the Alachua County Perinatal Mental Health Coalition.

I am a mother of two and wife of 19 years and counting. I understand from a personal standpoint the complexities that parenting and the reproductive years present with a focus on the client’s individual and unique experience.  No resources specializing in perinatal mental health were existing in North Central Florida when I became a mother, yet were greatly needed. This is where my passion for opening a specialized center of care for women and families comes from.

I strive to practice and build a team of providers focused on both a practical and evidence-based model of treatment, with the goal of serving YOU, the client in a holistic manner to reach the goals you set. The client is in the driver’s seat of the therapeutic process with the clinician as an active guide. The therapeutic relationship works best when YOU feel as though your time, energy and monetary investment are being made worth your while. 



Located in North Central Florida

Serving the Southeast

Better Beginnings opened our first physical location in Alachua, FL (just outside of Gainesville) in January of 2019.  We also have a physical location in Orange Park/Jacksonville, FL.  Additionally, we provide online/telehealth counseling and medication prescribing/psychiatry to teens and adults throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana.   More to come…watch us grow!

Keep your child near you

Bring baby WITH you!

Having your child nearby during treatment greatly reduces the burden on you. This time is challenging enough without having to worry about what to do with baby.  Please feel free to bring baby with you during your visit with us.  Multitasking as a parent is normal- we are right here with you!