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30

Embracing Change This Spring

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

With all that has happened in the past year, we know life may feel monotonous, repetitive and dreary at times. You are navigating life through a pandemic! Life is hard and there is no question that it has been even more difficult these last 12 months.

Spring is a wonderful time to consider ways to grow and bring to life the things you love! There are gentle reminders all around us in springtime that nudge us in the direction of healing and growth. Here are some things that may be tools for you this spring to help foster a season of change and redirection if you are feeling stuck in your ways.

1. Cook a new meal from fresh herbs

It may be too soon to grow your own, but until that day comes, fresh herbs from the grocery store may do the trick! Try a chicken pesto pasta with fresh basil, or a Greek gyro with fresh dill.

2. Spend time outside on walks through a park

While this is a very common spring activity with Midwesterners who are itching to get outside, find a way to switch it up every week! Find a new local park or grab an afternoon tea on your way to a park for your evening walk.

3. Plant seeds or fresh flowers

Planting annuals is a great way to switch up your landscaping outside! Go to your local greenhouse, Lowe’s, Home Depot or Menards and choose from a selection of annuals to add to a flower box or landscaping around your home. The bright colors in these floral arrangements will surely bring a smile to your face!

4. Stop and smell the roses

Quite literally! If you notice a bright beautiful tree or a large bush of lilacs, take five seconds and soak it in! The aroma of spring and the flowers from the trees only lasts for a few weeks a year, so don’t miss it when you see it.

5. Try a new local coffee shop or small business

Beautiful weather makes for a great afternoon of sitting outside a local coffee shop or leisurely checking out a new local store. It is fun to see what hidden gems are right in your neighborhood!


We hope that these ideas give you a boost of creativity or a sense of renewal this spring. Embracing change can be hard, and it can also be so fun to find something new you love with new experiences.

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13

Six ways to reduce anxiety

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults every year. In addition, we are living in a very anxious time with all that is happening with COVID-19. While it is common to experience anxiety on a daily basis, there are also small steps to take to reduce the anxiety in our lives.

Here are six simple ways to fight the stress in your life.

1. Meditation and breathing

There are many ways to engage in mindful breathing and meditation, but one way in particular is yoga practice.  Yoga helps you connect your mind and body. According to one study, researchers found that yoga practice shows a decrease in anxious and depressive symptoms in a variety of populations. 

2. Grounding

This is a technique that connects you to the present moment. Use the 3-3-3 rule in time of anxiousness. Name 3 things you see, 3 things you hear and move 3 body parts. Doing this will bring you back to the present moment and help you focus on what is happening around you.

3. Put stress in perspective

Take a step back and view your stress as part of a bigger picture. Try to maintain a positive attitude, and keep doing your best with the situation in front of you. Laugh often!

4. Food and drink

Limit alcohol consumption and stick to healthy, well-balanced meals. Avoid skipping meals, plan ahead and always have a healthy snack option on hand.

5. Reframe

Rethink your thoughts and fears. Often times when we are anxious, we think of worst-case scenarios. Each time a worry comes into your mind, reframe the thought and speak what you know is true about the situation. 

6. Practice saying no

Saying no to requests that others ask of you isn’t always selfish. By saying no to some things, you allow yourself to give more time and energy to the tasks that are already on your plate.

For some people, it can be very difficult to turn other’s requests down. To find more information about when and how to say no, check out this resource: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044494  

These techniques can be a small step in reducing the anxiety in your life. If you or someone you know is looking to set up an appointment with a counselor, our therapists at Collaborative Counseling are open to scheduling new clients through the Telehealth platform, so don’t hesitate to reach out today.

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14

Summer in The Twin Cities

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

We know this summer will not feel the same as usual, but many businesses are putting together creative ways to stay busy, social and active in this unprecedented time. Here is a list of activities to do with friends and family both indoor and out, all while supporting small businesses and staying safe! Make sure to check out businesses near you for ways to get involved there too.

Activities with kids

Outdoor activities

  • Minnesota Zoo
    • The Minnesota Zoo is now open! For tickets and information, click here.
  • Como Conservatory
    • In addition to the reopening of the Como Zoo, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is open by reservation!
    • The Como Zoo is also offering “Camp in a Box”, where kids are given supplies for 5 days of camp activities, such as crafts and scavenger hunts. Find information here!
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
    • The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is open for driving and walking access, but tickets and reservations are needed ahead of time. Check out this link for more information!

Food and Restaurant activities

  • Bummed about the canceled Minnesota State Fair? Here are some ways you can fill those state fair food cravings from those vendors but in a different location!
  • Eat Drink Dish MPLS and Twin Cities Eater are great resources for finding local restaurants to support during this time.
    • Eat Drink Dish MPLS allows you to search for restaurants that are doing curbside pickup, delivery, and are categorized into neighborhood communities. This makes it easy to find new places right in your backyard!
    • Twin Cities Eater compiled a list of places you can order “Take and Bake” meals from your favorite Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants!
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08

Trauma Informed Therapy

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Individual Therapy for PTSD Treatment

If you are beginning your search for therapy, it can be hard to know where to start. It can be overwhelming to understand the types of therapy that are offered by therapists, and which one might be a good fit for you. Here we will cover the basics of trauma informed therapy and how this type of therapy may be helpful for you.

What is trauma?

Trauma is any distressing experience. Anyone can deal with trauma and we can experience trauma in varying degrees. 

Karen Onderko, the Director of Research and Education at Integrated Listening Systems describes different levels of trauma through large “t” and little “t” trauma. 

We often ignore or disregard little trauma, because these are things that do not completely disrupt our daily life. As Onderko puts it, small “t” trauma “seem(s) surmountable”. Life changes, relationship conflict or financial troubles can be trauma. The internalization of these events may be interpreted differently for everyone, so for some, they may not be as distressing.

On the other hand, large trauma sends us into deep distress or helplessness. These tend to be larger experiences, including things like traumatic events or ongoing stressors, such as emotional or physical abuse.  These are things that most people think of when they hear the word, “trauma”.

It’s important to acknowledge and understand that we can all experience trauma in many different forms and at different levels. Everyone internalizes life events differently.

What does trauma informed therapy mean?

Trauma informed therapy aims to understand how trauma affects one’s life. This type of therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which sees to identify our thoughts about how we view our current life situation or issue. CBT helps us learn how to change the way we view or think of ourselves.

Trauma informed therapy helps us process events that have happened in our past, how that may be triggering to us, and the effect it may take in our life.

How can it help?

The effectiveness of therapy increases when we discuss and recognize our trauma. It searches to identify and understand the root of our pain or anxiety, and then helps us understand ourselves from that perspective. 

This type of therapy is beneficial to anyone who experiences trauma—large or small. Through these traumas, we can see how that may influence our behavior. Understanding our behavior from this perspective may also help us grow into healthier behaviors sooner.

Overall, trauma informed therapy may be a good option for therapy for some, but there are plenty of types of therapy that are beneficial to those seeking help.

To find a list of therapy types, click here.

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14

How to create a healthy work environment from home

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
unique gifts

If you are making the transition to work at home, it can be difficult to navigate working and living in the same place. It is helpful to make small changes that will make your work-at-home experience a positive one.

Here are a few things you can do to create a healthy work environment:

1. Designate an office space for yourself

Set up an office area with reliable connectivity and the essentials. Then add some color or décor to make it an enjoyable place to spend your day. Face a window or add some green!

2. Keep a routine

Set a routine that will help you start your day off on the right foot. Do you look forward to your morning coffee? Get up a few minutes earlier, find a sunny seat in your house and enjoy a few quiet moments. Plan out your meals and move and take stretch breaks throughout the day. 

Small things like this can set your day on the right track! 

3. Give your eyes a break

Blink often, wear blue-light glasses, adjust your monitor and take eye breaks. Use the 20-20-20 rule by looking at something 20 yards away for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.

4. Dress the part

It is easy to wear lounge clothes while working from home, but challenge yourself to act like you are getting ready to head into the office. Doing this helps to create a more professional work environment, limits distraction and promotes productivity!

5. Plan for times out of the office

Whether this is a walk around the neighborhood, or doing something productive around the house on your break, make sure you have a moment to step away from your desk.

Woman Practicing Being Present and Mindful
Take a moment each day to spend time outside or in the sun.

Take a small step today to create a warm and welcoming work environment from home!

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07
Understanding PTSD Through Individual Counseling Services

We live in a day and age where technology can be consuming, but during this time of “social distancing” there are many ways that we can use technology to stay connected from a distance.

You can use apps such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Zoom, and Houseparty to connect with family and friends!

1. Share with friends

Reach out to friends and family and keep them updated on how you are doing with all of your time spent at home. Share what books you are reading, shows you are watching, or small things you have accomplished throughout the day. 

2. Snail mail

Go old school, find a pen pal and write them a letter. Document what you are experiencing in this time of quarantine, then you will have these letters to look back on in years to come.

3. Virtual game night

Looking for something to do with friends while all staying in your own homes? Virtual game night! You can play charades, Heads Up, Pictionary, Drawful and many other games with a group of friends or family all through a video chat platform.

4. Cook-off

Share your favorite recipe with friends, and make each other’s favorite dishes. Video chat your meal with each other and share how your meal turned out!

Make it a little more exciting by leading your friends in a “follow-along” recipe night, and teach them how to make your favorite dish while they follow along in their own kitchen.

5. Create a virtual event

Make a Facebook event and invite some friends to join you for a virtual party. Create a virtual spa night, or “host” video game tournaments with friends. Plan to all watch the same movie or documentary together and discuss it after!

We all know that actually engaging with others face-to-face is the best type of interaction, but talking through these technological platforms allow us to stay connected in any situation.

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25

How to Live Your Best Life: Tips for Quarantine

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

We know that this is a stressful and overwhelming time in everyone’s life and we believe that setting aside some time for yourself helps you so you can help others around you. We have compiled a list of resources and tips for quarantine to help you make the most of this time quarantined at home.

Here are 8 ways you can make a small change in your daily life to live your best quarantined life:

1. Get up and move!

Many athletic and fitness clubs are offering free resources, so be sure to look around for tools to get moving and boost your immunity. For example, LifeTime Fitness is offering free on-demand exercise videos: https://my.lifetime.life/lp/video-workouts/strength.html. You can always go on a walk around your neighborhood to get some fresh air!

2. Internet

If you need access to internet, Comcast is offering 2 months of free internet to low-income households. The deadline to apply is April 30. https://internetessentials.com/covid19

3. Breathe

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, helps give you a basis for meditation and also has many health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Take some time today to consciously breathe and re-center yourself.

4. Meditation and mindfulness

In addition to deep breathing, there are several resources that can help you take a step back and relax. Calm.com, Headspace.com and VirusAnxiety.com provide tips to reduce anxiety and bring awareness to your breath.

5. Set screen time limits

It is easy to lose track of time when you are home all day. Most phones offer settings that allow you to set a limit of time for social media and overall screen time. Setting these boundaries can help you stay productive throughout your day.

6. Healthy eating

Food choices can make a huge difference in your life. Do your research, plan your meals, and make sure you are getting enough vegetables and fruits. Here are some ideas for immune boosting foods: https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system

7. Learn something new

Take a break from your home office and tour hundreds of museums—virtually! Google is offering tours of many museums, and you can find more information here: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en

8. Working from home tips

There are many tips and tricks to make working from home a great experience for you, and NPR outlines some of them here: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/15/815549926/8-tips-to-make-working-from-home-work-for-you

In addition to these at-home tips and tricks, Telehealth or online therapy is a beneficial tool that is accessible from your computer or smart device.

Our providers at Collaborative Counseling are set up to provide Telehealth services that can help you navigate this unprecedented time. Accessing therapy from the comfort and privacy of your own home or space is a great way to stay connected and our providers would be happy to help you. Make sure to check back for more tips for quarantine life!

Call our office today to get scheduled at 763-210-9966!

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02

Levels of Mental Health Care

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

There are many different program options for addressing issues with mental health. It can be difficult to know which type would be the best fit for you or a loved one. We are going to try to break down the levels of mental health care to make it a little simpler!

Outpatient Options

In outpatient care, the patient goes to the place of service, gets said service, and then goes back home all in one day. There are four levels of outpatient care: 12-Step programs, routine outpatient programs, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization.

12-Step Programs

12 step level of mental health care

In a 12-Step program, participants typically meet on a weekly or monthly basis to talk in a group about shared struggles. People share their experiences and build a support community through those stories. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one really common example of this type of service. Other subject areas include gambling, sex addition, eating disorders, and many more.

Routine Outpatient Care

Routine outpatient care is what we do here at Collaborative Counseling. In this level of mental health care, patients meet with a therapist in an office. Sessions typically last around an hour. Therapists will facilitate conversation to help with whatever may be happening in their life.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

outpatient level of mental health care

Intensive outpatient programs are similar to routine care in that the client goes to an office for services. However, these programs often involve both group therapy and individual therapy on a regular basis. The sessions are typically longer or occur more often.

Partial Hospitalization

Partial hospitalization (PHP) is one step higher in care. These programs are usually all day. The client would spend their day in different therapy sessions and/or programs and then go home for the night. There is more structure and help with basic care needs.

Inpatient Options

These levels of care take place in a hospital or residential setting. People typically check to a hospital or another facility where they spend the night. The two levels of inpatient care are: acute inpatient care and residential treatment.

Acute Inpatient Care

Acute inpatient care is a short term hospitalization. When care in an outpatient setting is not enough, clients can go to an inpatient facility. Facilities are staffed 24 hours a day by trained individuals monitoring client. The goal is usually to get the client stable enough to go back home.

Residential Treatment

Residential Treatment options last a bit longer than acute care. They take place in a home or apartment setting. There are still medically trained staff present, but they may not be monitoring the client as close as in a hospital. Clients work on building community in their living space while addressing their personal concerns.

No matter where you are at in your mental health journey, there are options for you! Hopefully this information helped clarify the levels of mental health care available.

Need help in finding programs near you? Click here.

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23

Stressed? Take a Step Outside

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
yellow flowers with a view of mountains outside
Spending time outside can greatly reduce stress levels and improve physical health. #outdoors #healthyliving #mentalhealth

Life is stressful. For most people, the term ‘stressful’ is a major understatement to say the least. From work to studying to being home with kids or whatever your day consists of, it’s often tough to relax. Taking a moment out of your day to step outside and enjoy nature can ease some of that!

Here is a look into what happens in your body when you are in natural spaces:

  • Lowered cortisol levels – when your cortisol levels are constantly raging, like in periods of high stress, there is more risk for depression/anxiety, weight gain, trouble focusing, and issues with your heart
  • Lower blood pressure – the fresh air and view of nature help in keeping your heart and mind healthy
  • Better sleep – spending time outside helps people not only get a deeper sleep, but sleep longer through the night
  • Improved immune system – being outside exposes your body to a wide variety of healthy bacteria that work to improve your bodies natural defenses
  • Increased exercise – people are more likely to get moving when they spend time outside whether that is walking/biking/swimming/etc which is always great for you as a whole

There are many ways that immersing yourself in nature can get you that much needed break! Not sure where to start? Walk through a local park on your lunch break. Maybe go for a bike ride with a friend. Even having a view of natural environments or plants in your house can make a difference!

It’s time get serious about caring for the bodies we live in every day. Take that step outside and enjoy the warm summer weather that is just around the corner! (But don’t forget your sunscreen!)

Want to learn more? Click here.

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02

The Power of Validation

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Happiness

Validation is a powerful tool that can be implemented in almost every relationship we have. According to Karyn Hall, PhD: “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable. Self-validation is the recognition and acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviors as understandable.”

Why Do We Need Validation?

Validation is important for us to feel accepted by others. As most of us can attest to, feeling like you belong and matter is an important part of  feeling good about yourself. When we validate others, it brings us closer and strengthens the relationship. Additionally, validation helps us to build understanding with others and aids in effective communication. Validation also helps people feel important and cared for. This is especially true for kids who need validation to feel connected to their parents, express emotions and to develop a secure sense of self.

Levels of Validation

Marsha Linehan, PhD, has identified six different levels of validation and some tips on how to implement them.

  1. Being Present: giving your complete attention to the person struggling in a non-judgmental way
  2. Accurate Reflection: Summarize what the person has said, try to really understand and not judge the person’s experience
  3. Reading someone’s behavior and guessing what they may be thinking or feeling: pay attention to the person’s emotional state and label their emotion or infer how they may be feeling. Be sure to check in with the person to make sure your guess is accurate!
  4. Understanding someone’s behavior in terms of their history and biology: think about how someone’s past experiences may be affecting how they are feeling now, in this moment or situation.
  5. Normalizing or recognizing emotional reactions that anyone would have: recognize that many people may feel the way that you or the other person is feeling in a given situation and let them know that it’s okay to feel this way as many people do.
  6. Radical genuineness: this happens when you are able to understand how someone is feeling on a deeper, personal level. Perhaps, you have had a similar experience. Sharing that with the other person can help to validate their feelings and reactions.

Putting Words Into Action

Learning to validate others can be easier said than done. However, being more conscience of how our words affect others and even implementing the first few levels of validation can make a big difference in our relationships and interactions with others. An essential tenant of the therapeutic relationship is validation. It is important to know that we must first be able to validate ourselves before being able to validate others. Therapy can help you to achieve self-validation skills as well as learning skills to validate others. For more information about our clinicians and how they can help, visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team.

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