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18

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Depression & Alzheimer's

June is national Alzheimer’s and brain awareness month. Alzheimer’s has become a focal point in the discussion of memory disorders over the last decade. However, there is still confusion about what exactly Alzheimer’s is and how to cope when a loved one develops the disease.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It causes issues with memory, behavior and thinking. Often times, people associate getting older with being forgetful. They assume things like memory loss are a normal part of aging. However, this is not the case. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that affects a person’s ability to function in daily life and worsens over time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease mainly affects individuals ages 65 and older, it can happen earlier in life. This is called early-onset Alzheimer’s and it affects approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65.  The most common symptom of the disease is trouble remembering new information.

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, there is currently not a cure for Alzheimer’s. There are, however, some treatments for the symptoms of the disease. It can be difficult to learn that a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and there are many new unknowns when it comes to the future. As a caregiver, friend or family member, it is important to seek out support to cope with this new phase of life. It may be wise to find a support group for others in the same situation or your own individual therapist.

How Can a Therapist Help?

Even though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease therapy can help a recently diagnosed individual deal with the emotions surrounding this news. Emotions such as depression, agitation and anxiety, which can be side effects of the disease, can be addressed in therapy. Therapy can also help an individual come to terms with and eventually, accept their diagnosis.

Depression affects up to 40% of Alzheimer’s patients making it an important issue to address with this population. Depression can prevent those with the disease from participating in activities such as physical exercise and mentally engaging activities, which can help to improve their overall condition.

Visit our website to learn more about how our team can help you or a loved one through this time of change at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team

For more information about Alzheimer’s and dementia visit: https://www.alz.org

 

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07

What Kinds of Therapy Can Help Treat PTSD?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
PTSD Treatment

PTSD, like other diagnoses, has many treatments that can be effective for a broad array of individuals. Here, we will discuss some of the most popular and effective treatments for PTSD.

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

TF-CBT specifically targets children and adolescents. It can also be helpful for adults who have suffered trauma. TF-CBT is especially helpful for youth who have experienced abuse, violence or grief resulting in PTSD. This is a short-term therapy that generally lasts anywhere between 8-25 sessions. TF-CBT works to change distorted or negative reactions and behaviors. Additionally, family dynamics are emphasized in this approach as therapists aim to teach parenting, stress management and communication skills that can help the client succeed.

EMDR

EMDR stands for Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It helps the brain to reprocess the memories of the traumatic event. In turn, this helps to relieve many of the symptoms associated with PTSD and improve a person’s overall functioning. EMDR is different than traditional talk therapy. It identifies specific memories to target, so the client fully process past experiences and the feelings associated with the memory. Eventually, the goal is to replace negative thoughts and feelings with more positive ones that promote healthy behaviors.

Narrative Therapy

 Narrative therapy focuses on the story that someone who has experienced trauma, tells themselves. The story told to oneself can influence how that person perceives the world and their experiences and ultimately, their well-being. NT requires the client to tell the story of their life (chronologically) focusing on the traumatic event(s) or experience(s). The therapist asks the client to narrate the traumatic experience(s) and describe their emotions, thoughts and physiological responses to the therapist, all while remining connected to the present. This therapy asks a person to reflect on their entire life which means it can address multiple traumatic incidents. In the end it can help the client realize their human rights and gain back their self-respect.

Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure therapy is a part of cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT). Many individuals who have experienced trauma actively avoid anything that reminds them of said trauma.

This intervention works to teach whose individuals to confront their trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. In turn, this decreases the symptoms of PTSD by teaching the individual that their memories and feelings surrounding their trauma are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided. This is also a short-term therapy lasting anywhere from 8-15 sessions and gradually challenges the individual to confront uncomfortable stimuli and cope with the emotions associated with the stimuli.

It is important to keep in mind that there are a wide variety of therapies that may be able to help you or someone you know deal with their trauma. The best place to start is to find someone you feel comfortable with that can help you work through what you are dealing with. A great deal of research indicates the benefit of therapy is strongly correlated to the relationship a person has with their therapist, so finding someone that you connect to is very important. Visit our website to learn more about our team and how they can help you move forward at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team.

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01

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Understanding PTSD

According to the American Psychiatric Association Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur when a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. These can be events such as war, rape, a serious accident, or a natural disaster.  PTSD can happen when there is a threat to a person’s livelihood or sense of safety. Those with PTSD tend to have reoccurring thoughts, flashbacks, or even nightmares that are related to the traumatic event they experienced. They may feel sadness, anger, fear, or even detachment from others. They also tend to avoid putting themselves in situations that could remind them of the traumatic event. For example, a soldier who is experiencing PTSD after being in a war zone may avoid fireworks or loud noises that resemble gun fire as it brings back many memories and feelings associated with being in the war.

Myths about PTSD

 There are several myths surrounding PTSD and those who have it. Often people think of veterans who have returned home from war. However, the disorder affects people who have experienced all kinds of trauma ranging from sexual abuse to the sudden death of a loved one. Another common myth is that if you experience trauma, then you will develop PTSD. About 1 in 3 people who have experienced trauma will develop PTSD.

Many people who experience trauma do not develop PTSD but will display symptoms of stress following the incident such as insomnia, anxiety or depression. However, these people tend to recover from their symptoms. Those who do not and whose symptoms worsen or intensify over time, develop PTSD.

What are things that make a person vulnerable to PTSD?

 There are some risk factors when it comes to developing PTSD. These include:

  • having little to no support system following the event
  • having a pre-existing anxiety or depression
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop PTSD
  • Genetics: There is evidence to suggest that genes may play a role in making some more susceptible than others to the disorder
  • Added stress following the event such as losing a job or a loved one

According to the APA, this disorder affects roughly 3.5% of the American population with an estimated 1 in 11 people with experience PTSD throughout some point in their life. This means that an acquaintance, a friend, or even a close relative of yours could experience or may currently be experiencing this disorder. With that being said, you may wonder how you personally can help your loved one(s) who suffers from this disorder.

How do I help someone who is struggling with a traumatic event?

Here are a few suggestions from the National Center for PTSD if you know someone who may be struggling with a traumatic event:

If you or someone you know is struggling with a traumatic event, you do not need to suffer alone and we suggest you reach out to meet with a therapist to help you in processing and navigating any reactions you may be having. For more information about PTSD visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/issues-we-specialize-treating/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

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23

How to Find the Right Therapist For You

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Therapist and client

Trying to find a therapist that is a good fit for you can be challenging. While there are many wonderful therapists in the field, you need to know what you are looking for in a therapist to determine if they will be a good fit for you. Here, we share some tips to finding the right therapist for you.

Credentials

There are many different degree’s and titles that a therapist can hold. Below is a breakdown of the various titles and degrees and what they mean.

  • Psychologists: This is someone who holds a Doctoral Degree, either a PhD or PsyD. In addition to being trained in psychotherapy and counseling, they are also trained in psychological testing for issues such as ADHD or Autism.
  • Social Workers: These individuals hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW). Social workers who perform therapy will have the title LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker). Their education focuses on systems including the family and the community. They typically work with families and groups in addition to individuals.
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors: LPCC’s hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. They work with a variety of mental health issues and modalities. Their education focuses on being client-centered versus illness-centered.
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists: LMFT’s hold a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Their education focuses on family systems and relationships. They typically see couples, families and individuals.
  • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors: LADC’s hold a Bachelor’s Degree at minimum. However, some people choose to hold this license in addition to their main license. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders.

Look Around

Take your time and look at therapist biographies and profiles on company websites or sites like https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.You can see pictures and descriptions of therapists as well as the issues they work with and their specialties. When looking at therapist bio’s take notice if they are selling themselves orthe work they do and their philosophy when it comes to working with clients. Pictures can be a helpful first indication to if you will feel comfortable with a therapist, so follow your gut! When searching for a therapist, keep in mind your preferred gender as well.

Keep an Open Mind

Once you choose a therapist, keep in mind that there is no obligation to return if you do not feel it was a good fit. Often, people will continue to see someone they do not connect with. Many times, this is because they do not want to hurt the therapist’s feelings. Remember, the therapeutic relationship should benefit you. If you feel you would connect better with someone else, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you decide to try someone else out, keep in mind what you liked about the previous therapist and what you did not. This will help you narrow your search and hone in on someone who may be perfect for you.

Check out the therapists we currently offer at our various locations within Collaborative Counseling!

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16

Mental Health IS Health

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Mental Health

When we think of being healthy, often it is physical health that comes to mind. Too often, we put our mental health on the back burner in life.  However, our mental and physical health are one in the same. It’s what we call the mind-body connection.

What is the Mind-Body Connection?

According to the University of Minnesota, the mind-body connection refers to the relationship between our attitudes, thoughts, feelings and actions and our biological functioning. Basically, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are and vice versa. This affect can be negative or positive. It is important to note that when talking about the mind, we are not referring to the brain. Rather, the mind is made up of our mental states which can be both conscious and unconscious and include thoughts, feelings, emotions. A perfect example of the mind-body connection is anxiety. When we are anxious our body releases stress hormones which affect our overall biological functioning. For example, some people report that when they are anxious they experience tension in their shoulders, back or abdomen.

How to Strengthen Your Mind-Body Connection

There are several ways to promote a healthy mind-body connection. Self-care activities such as exercise, yoga, and meditation can promote a healthy body which in turn, promotes a mental state. There are several different therapies that also emphasize the mind-body connection and can help to promote a healthy mental state which encourages a healthy body. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapies and art therapy.

Try to incorporate some time for intentional movement in your day. This can be as small as a walk on your lunch break or using an app to help you meditate for a few minutes a day. Being aware of our thoughts, attitudes and feelings as well as taking the time to take care of and move our bodies is key to a positive mind-body connection.

To learn more about the mind-body connection visit: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-the-mind-body-connection

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11

Antidepressants Versus Placebo

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
learn about antidepressants

There has long been a debate over the use of antidepressant medications to treat depression. Recent research indicates that antidepressants may be just as effective as using a placebo medication.

What is a Placebo?

A placebo medication is essentially a sugar pill many studies use to compare true medications to. Those taking the placebo believe they are getting better because they think that they have been given the true medication.

It is important to remember that antidepressant medications have helped millions of people. Therefore, this study doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medication. It does however indicate that they may not be the best first option for treating depression.

Alternative Options

Psychotherapy and counseling are proven to be effective treatments for depression. In fact, they are as effective as medication in the treatment of moderate, severe and even very severe depression. For some patients, the combination of psychotherapy with an initial course of antidepressants can work even better. However, the question now is – how do the drugs work? One possibility is that medication with therapy works best because people believe that it will.

Many people are hesitant to go on medication. This research indicates psychotherapy as an equally effective alternative to antidepressants.

If you or someone you know may be depressed, it is recommended to seek out medical and therapeutic advice to determine the best approach to help yourself or your loved one in overcoming their depression.

Learn more about psychotherapy at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/individual-therapy/

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04

Make Your Relationship Fun Again!

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

All too often we find ourselves stuck in a rut, especially when it comes to our relationships. Comfort and routines can lead to complacency and boredom. It is normal at one time or another to feel like “spicing things up” between yourself and your partner.

To bring back the spark, a playful attitude can make things fun again. Sometimes we start to take our relationships and ourselves too seriously and we forget to let go and be playful with our partner. There are many different ways to bring play back in to your relationship but here are some examples to get you started:

  • Play a board game together
  • Role play in the bedroom each others’ fantasies
  • Go for a hike and turn it in to an exploring adventure
  • Laugh at your partner’s little jokes
  • In moments of conflict, bring lightness to it by making a joke or being playful
  • Make corny romantic gestures (e.g. do a dip kiss, buy flowers)
  • Dance together

Try to carve out the time for some of these fun activities every once in a while and see how it can improve your attitude and your relationship. Life is too short to not have fun. Get creative in trying to bring fun and play into your relationship.

Learn more about how we can help re-ingite the spark at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

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25

Seeking Happiness

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Happiness

The Perception of Happiness

So happy! That’s what one of my Facebook friends posted one day. I couldn’t help but wonder…okay, what? She never elaborated.

Have you ever had moments of complete happiness? I have. It is so elusive, fleeting and simple. Just as quickly, our mood can change, the happiness gone.

It seems that oftentimes it isn’t connected to an event. That would be just too simple. But instead it’s a feeling of peace, contentment, and the joy of being alive.

What Is Happiness To You?

Clients are asked to state their counseling goals in writing when entering therapy. Just to be happy, is frequently a goal. It’s our job to operationally define that for them, clarify their expectations for themselves, for others and for the universe. Sometimes it’s figuring out what is in our control and what isn’t, how to take better care of ourselves, or how to recover from a devastating experience. Some of us have chronic conditions and problems that make it hard to be optimistic about life.

In “The Happiness Project” Gretchen Rubin reports that current research shows that “genetics account for 50 percent of the tendency toward happiness; life circumstances such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation and religious affiliation account for 10-20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.”

As a therapist, this research reinforces for me the idea that people can boost their own happiness just by how they think about themselves and their life. Counseling is an opportunity for guidance and support through those critical decisions that determine your experience in life.

So the comment “So happy!” may have more to do with my friend’s perception of reality than an actual event…might be worth thinking about!

Learn how our therapists can help you uncover your optimism and find what makes you truly happy at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team

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20

What Leads People to Cutting?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

Research estimates that 80% of cutters and those who self harm are trying to regain their emotional balance. There are a couple of factors commonly seen in those who cut:

1) They tend to be more sensitive and emotionally reactive.

2) They often feel invalidated by their environment.

Let’s break these two apart to make them more understandable.

Sensitive and Emotionally Reactive

People who cut seem to be more sensitive than others and they tend to have much stronger reactions to the feelings they experience. They also seem to take longer to recover from strong emotions than most. Others will often describe them as a “drama queen”, “overemotional” or “overly sensitive”. This strong emotional reaction makes them vulnerable to acting in a way that is either impulsive or can be desperate to soothe him or herself.

Invalidated by the Environment

This means they do not feel understood or heard. Validation involves using empathy to make sure the other person feels heard and understood. To validate, we accept the other person’s experience as they state it without judging or helping problem solve. Often with emotionally reactive people we can get reactive ourselves instead of  trying to make them feel better or helping them to solve the problem.

These two factors combined will often leave the person struggling to find a way to feel in control, particularly of strong negative emotions. Cutting thus becomes a tool to manage painful emotions because it soothes just as drugs and alcohol can.

For more information on how to help someone who cuts, visit http://collaborativemn.com/dialectical-behavior-therapy/

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17

Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Recently, there has been a spotlight on sexual assault in the media. This is an unprecedented moment in time highlighting just how prevalent this issue is in our society today. With movements such as “me too” leading the way, many survivors have found the courage to come forward and tell their story while bringing much needed awareness to the issue. While we are making strides in the right direction, we still have work to do when it comes to confronting and ending sexual assault and the stigma that comes along with it.

What is Sexual Assault?

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) defines sexual assault as: “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” Some examples of sexual assault are:

  • Attempted rape
  • Unwanted touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts- this can include both physical and psychological pressures such as threats or manipulation
  • Rape (forced sexual intercourse)

Who is Affected by Sexual Assault?

Both males and females experience sexual assault. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are survivors of sexual assault. Young women are especially vulnerable. Almost 80% of female victims are under the age of 25 when they were first assaulted. Additionally, most victims know their perpetrators. People such as a family member or an intimate partner, can be perpetrators as well as an acquaintance.

What Can I Do?

First, it is important to remember that sexual assault is never the survivors fault. Knowing the steps to take when you feel something isn’t right is key. When you see a person at-risk of sexual assault, RAINN suggests taking the following steps:

  • Create a Distraction- try to interrupt the situation to give the person a chance to get away and to a safe place.
  • Ask Directly- speak directly to the person who may be at-risk asking questions like “Would you like me to stay with you?”
  • Refer to an Authority- find a neutral party with authority such as an RA, security guard, bartender or call 911 if you are concerned for someone’s safety.
  • Enlist Others- find someone to go with you to confront the situation or someone who knows the person you are concerned about.

If you suspect someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault there are some things you can do. Remember that it is important to avoid judgement and to listen. Simple phrases such as: “I believe you” “It’s not your fault” and “You are not alone” offer validation and support to survivors. Know that the trauma from the assault can be short-term or long lasting, every survivor responds differently. Be patient and encourage them to seek support but realize that is their decision to make.

We can all do things to prevent sexual assault, even if we are not able to directly step in to prevent it. Even a simple action such as offering a safe ride home from a party could prevent an assault. The biggest and longest lasting change can only happen with a shift in culture and our collective way of thinking about sexual violence. To learn more about sexual assault and what you can do to help, visit: https://rainn.org

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