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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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13

Understanding Depression

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
hope for depression

There is a common misconception that depression is a choice. The truth is that depression is a common yet serious mood disorder that has to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. People experience depression in a number of ways and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Depression can affect how someone feels and thinks as well their daily activities such as work and sleeping. There are a variety of factors that can put someone at-risk for developing depression such as:

  • Genetics: Depression can be hereditary and runs in families.
  • Environmental Factors: exposure to neglect, abuse and violence can be risk factors for depression.
  • Personality: Traits such as low self-esteem and being easily overwhelmed by stress can make people more vulnerable to depression.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop depression.

It should be noted that depression can look different for everyone. Some common symptoms of depression include.

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability

Treatments for Depression

There are several therapeutic treatment options for depression. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based CBT and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have all been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms and increasing coping skills.

Many courses of treatment for depression will include medications such as anti-depressants in combination with psychotherapy to treat depression. Remember, no two people are alike and therefore, neither are their treatments. What worked for one person may not work for you.

Additionally, activities such as yoga and exercise in general as well as meditation and healthy eating can all have an impact on our overall mood and help to decrease depressive symptoms.

If you are struggling with depression the first step is reaching out for help. Visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/  to learn more about the services we offer and the people who can help.

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10

Tips for Going Back to School

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Getting ready for and going back to school can be a very stressful time. Following the slower pace of summer, many struggle to get back into the mind frame to focus on learning and schoolwork.

Here are our favorite tips for parents to help prepare for the transition into a new school year.

Practice Getting Back on a Schedule

Take the week or two leading up to the first day to transition back to your school-year schedule and routines. In addition, work to get you and your kids back on the usual sleep schedule for school.

Take Care of Any Health Needs

If your child needs a physical, check up or needs medication refills make sure to follow up with appropriate health care providers. Also, try to be proactive in getting help for both physical and mental health needs your child may have going into this next school year.

Get Oriented

If your child is going to start in a new school this year spend time getting familiar with the space. Practice finding their classrooms, restrooms, the office or nurse and any other areas they need to be familiar with. The best way to ease anxiety about this first day of school is to help your child feel as prepared as possible.

Be Prepared for the First Day

To decrease the stress of the first day help or remind your child to pack their bag. Also, have them pick their outfit the day before. In addition, make sure to have healthy breakfast and snack foods available for your child.

All of these tips are aimed at helping your child to be successful on their first day of school. Anything you can do to decrease the stress and anxiety of the first day of school is recommended. Remember, anxiety is often just about the unknowns. Therefore, the more of those you can decrease the better off your child will be. Most of all, we want to send kids into the school year focusing on academics and of course, friendships!

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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
hope for depression

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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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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04

Teen Stress

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

The teen years involve a lot of stress. Some studies have indicated that teen stress is on the rise.  However, many of the stressors teens face today, are the same as those faced by teens many years past.

Teen Stressors

The teen years involve many unique challenges from other phases of life. Some of these challenges include:

  • Most teens want to fit in. An important part of the teen years is finding a sense of acceptance from friends, family and community. While this is easy for some it can be very difficult for others. The social hierarchy is always at the forefront of teens attention.
  • Hormones are on the rise! Teen years involve many changes biologically which for some happen right on time, for others too slow and for others far too fast.
  • Brain development is rapid. In the teen years the frontal lobe begins to develop allowing teens to plan more and sometimes making them feel they know it all!
  • Peer pressure kicks in to full gear. Teens begin to feel more pressures to fit in to social expectations, to take risks and to try new things, some of which include alcohol, drugs and sexual behaviors.
  • What are you going to do with your life? Increasingly teens are feeling the pressure to figure out what they will be “when I grow up”.

How to Help

As a teen, there are many competing demands from parents, peers, teachers, employers, coaches and more. The goal of the teen years is to develop positive ways to cope with the stress of the increasing demands of life. As parents it is important to be a listening ear for your child as well as to pay attention to their friends and life dramas. Most of all, it is important to foster the sense that your child has the ability to make positive choices for themselves.

Teen stress will always exist. To learn more about how to support your teen in developing the skills to navigate the teen years visit https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/teen-counseling

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06

Talking to Kids About School Violence

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

With so much media coverage of acts of violence, including school shootings, both adults and children are aware and thinking about violence in schools. We have heard many parents say they don’t want to send their child to school and kids are worried about it too.

When significant acts of violence occur, it is important to be aware that some children may react strongly to these types of events. For parents, teachers and therapists it is important to be able to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings.

How to Cope

Here are some tips and guidelines to help be prepared to talk to children about school violence:

  • Be honest. Give children information they can understand in their own level. Help them to understand that while bad things happen to children sometimes, most children will not get harmed while at school.
  • Limit exposure your child has to violent video games, movie, TV, computer and books. Research shows the violent information has a cumulative effect in children. Also do not describe scenarios that may further frighten your child.
  • Monitor what information your child is getting or already has about the recent events. If they are hearing rumors or have wrong information, help them to understand the facts.
  • Be there for your child. Listen to what they have to say. Reassure your child is safe and that you and their school is working hard to keep them safe.
  • Work to manage your own fear and anxiety. Avoid letting your child take on your worries.
  • Give your child information on how to maintain safety through their actions. Provide them with information on how their school works to keep them safe.
  • Try to maintain normal activities and routines.

When difficult situations such as these occur, it can be hard to manage our own worries and those of our children. It is important to remember that while coverage of these types of school shootings and other acts of violence can be overwhelming, they are very rare. Learn more about our services for teens at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/teen-counseling

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