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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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20

How to Cope With Holiday Stress

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Woman Stressed about the Holidays

While the holidays can bring plenty of joy, for many people it can be a very stressful time of year. Almost a quarter of American’s report feeling “extreme stress” around the holiday season. Even if you are not someone who experiences a great amount of stress around this time of year, here are some coping skills you can use yourself or share with others who may be struggling with the stress of the holiday season.

Let Go of Expectations

We often become fixated on our expectations and become upset when reality does not match those expectations, especially when it comes to the holidays and traditions. Remember that things may not go perfectly or exactly as planned but that is not what really matters. The holidays are an opportunity to surround ourselves with friends and family and to share in experiences that bring us closer together.

Be Present and Mindful

The holidays are obviously a very busy and fast-paced time of year for many people. While it can be easy to fall into this pattern of go, go, go, be mindful of when you are experiencing stress or anxiety and when it may be time to take a break. Around this time of year, we tend to be focused on the needs of others and let our own needs fall by the wayside. It is important to make time for self-care, whatever that means for you.

Set Boundaries

Know your limits and know when to say “no” to things. Stress and anxiety can often arise from taking on too much at once. Part of good self-care is knowing when you have reached your capacity and setting boundaries around the use of your time (including who you spend time with and when). Know that you do not have to attend every holiday event you are invited to or spend time with people who do not make you feel your best.

Maintain Your Routine

With the holidays come plenty of fun events and delicious treats to enjoy. However, trying to maintain most of your daily routine can help greatly when it comes to coping with stress. Exercise, diet and sleep are key components to both mental and physical health. Most people do not get enough sleep and holiday stress can exacerbate that problem. Taking a daily walk, setting a “bed-time” for yourself and/or starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you to feel and stay on track and maintain healthy habits during a time when schedules tend to fluctuate.

The holidays don’t have to be a time of extreme stress! Try to focus on the things that fill you up rather than the things that drain you. Spend more time doing things and spending time with the people who lift you up and make you feel your best. Most of all, remember that the holidays are what you make them, no more and no less.

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13

Understanding Depression

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Growing Plant Symbolizing 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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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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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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11

Antidepressants Versus Placebo

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
The Collaborative Counseling Can Help

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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13
Family and Couple Therapy at Collaborative Counseling

If your partner has betrayed you through cheating or an affair, you may be experiencing flashbacks, excessive worry and memories. Here we will discuss what flashbacks and intrusive memories are and some ideas around how to overcome them.

Following the discovery that your spouse has been cheating, it can be a difficult feat to begin to overcome the thoughts, anger, hurt and feelings associated with this type of betrayal. Some betrayed spouses report flashbacks and memories related to an affair.

Things that can trigger flashbacks include spending time with your partner who cheated, romantic sounds, love stories, not hearing from your partner and sometimes they can just come out of the blue when you least expect it.

Being betrayed by a loved one can often be traumatic. Traumatic experiences can be followed by intrusive thoughts about the event such as images, thoughts and memories. Sometimes even images from the imagination can become intrusive.

If you are struggling to overcome the discovery of an affair, here are some ways you can work to overcome thoughts and memories that are interfering with your daily life:

Be present

Practice simple acts of working to stay in the moment. Be cautious to not escape through food, alcohol, drugs or other avoidance tactics. There are many different ways to practice being mindful and in the moment including yoga, breathing, and meditation. Even working to just do one thing at a time while focusing all of your attention on that task will help you to be present and more mindful.

One simple exercise to get you out of a flashback is to focus on your breathing for 5 breaths. Notice the air coming in and going out, notice how you feel, try to focus just on the act of breathing.

 Journal

Write down things that you are thinking and feeling. Journaling is a very effective tool to help you deal with your negative emotions and to help you to let things go. The act of writing can help people to think of ways to deal with things and can even lead to new perspectives or self understandings.

By taking time to process through your feelings, you will be able to move through them more quickly than if you try to suppress or ignore them. Give yourself permission to write down all of your thoughts and feelings without censoring – this is for you.

 Anticipate triggers

Pay attention to what thins trigger flashbacks for you and try to find ways to initially avoid these triggers. When your healing has progressed more, work to develop coping skills for managing your flashbacks. As with any anxiety-provoking thing, eventually you will want to work to expose yourself to your triggers so you can move forward. It is okay initially to avoid situations or experiences that may trigger your flashbacks.

Ride the wave

Some triggers will be impossible to avoid and some flashbacks will just come out of seemingly nowhere. For these I recommend “riding the wave” to do this you will experience the emotion you are having while imagining it wash over you and away from you like a wave. Sometimes we resist emotions, however by riding the wave you often end up more able to move forward from your emotion and flashback.

Be kind to your self

Forgive yourself for not catching on to it sooner or for any mistakes you are blaming your self for. Try to do things that you enjoy that will help you to get out of your thoughts.

Pay attention to doing the small things that will care for your mind body and soul. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, try to exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, take a class about something you want to learn, read a book, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, etc… Do things to help you feel good about your self.

Don’t bring others in to it

Sometimes our urge can be to talk with others when we are hurt or struggling. Often it is good to talk with someone about emotions you are struggling to process, however with infidelity there can also be negatives to bringing others in to it.

The cautionary tale here is that if you decide to forgive your partner, your friends and family may not be as quick to do so. Sometimes these can lead to awkward relationships or even the loss of friendships. Be cautious not to bring others in to it, especially if you may stay with your partner.

See a therapist or counselor

If you feel the need to talk to someone, we recommend meeting with a therapist or counselor to process your feelings. Therapists are trained to help people process through difficult things. Sometimes it is best to talk with someone completely outside of your situation. In addition, a counselor will be able to provide you with a safe environment to process your feelings and thoughts without judgment and will be able to help you develop tools to move past it in the best way for you.

You may consider doing individual counseling, couples counseling or both. Either of these formats of counseling can be helpful in processing through an affair. Counseling can help you learn new ways of coping with the betrayal and resulting loss of trust. It can also help you decide if whether you want to continue in the relationship.

In summary it is important during this time that you focus on taking care of yourself and to learn ways to manage your emotions and flashbacks through healthy coping skills. If at any point you find yourself struggling to move past your flashbacks or intrusive thoughts, seek professional help. Knowing when to ask for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. To learn more about our services visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

Please note: This article is presented for information only and is not intended to substitute for professional therapeutic advice.

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01

Positive Discipline

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Positive discipline for parents

The Perception of Effective Discipline

Where did we get the crazy idea that to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Apply this to yourself – if I make you feel bad, then you will do better. Is this really when we tend to do better? From my experience these conditions lead people to rebel, give up, argue, etc…

Children do better when they feel better. Just like with all people, children can only access their rational brain when they are feeling positive.

How to Use Positive Discipline

To use the ideas of positive discipline you need to work to bring the message of love first. Often Children need to have a sense of belonging and significance before they can learn what we want them to learn. If we can get clear on our intent of teaching our child lessons out of love instead of anger, they will be much more inclined to hear us.

Why is it so hard to do this? Because we all have buttons and triggers and our kids now how to push them!! We often know better but we don’t do better. When our buttons are pushed we go into the reptilian brain.

The reptilian brain is where our emotions take over and we can no longer access the more logical parts of our brains. When you feel your reptilian brain kicking in take a timeout, reconnect with your positive emotion and go back to your child in a positive frame of mind. In this act, we teach our children a lesson in and of itself.

My challenge to you: When disciplining your children, try to come from a place of love and caring. Learn more about our services as they related to parenting at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/issues-we-specialize-treating/parenting

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