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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

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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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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09

Waiting for Answers

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
learn about antidepressants

If you’re anything like many of us, you’re all too familiar “dot dot dot” you get while waiting for a response from someone. Often, we see them when we’re finalizing plans, or asking someone how their day went. Other times, we see them in response to a big question, like “Where is our relationship at?” or “Are you mad at me?” That visible pause- in three tiny dots- we see light up our phones puts all of our fears at the forefront of our mind. It can be the most gut wrenching two minutes of your life as you wait for their text to materialize.

What Makes You Pause?

Just think about your life for a minute. Do you feel like you’re on pause, waiting for answers? How many of us have stalled at the “dot dot dot”? We ask ourselves, or our spouses, even our friends, the hard questions like:

-Am I happy in my marriage?

-Am I doing the right thing by taking this new job?

-Should I have another baby?

-Is my son/daughter in need of more help than I can give them?

-Are issues in my prior relationships keeping me from moving on?

-Why can’t I find contentment in my life?

And we don’t have the answer, and neither do they. So we wait for a response, but nothing comes. And we sit, staring at that “dot dot dot” in life, wondering what we do next. How do you know if you’re choosing correctly? Who can you turn to when you don’t have the answers, and people around you can’t help you?

Seek Help

If you are tired of being on pause, waiting for an answer, consider talking to one of our therapists. We are here to listen and help. Our goal is to help you bring more joy, laughter and love into your life. We provide counseling that will help you live your life to the fullest by supporting you through difficult times as well as teaching you skills that will allow you to make changes and progress towards a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life.

Stop waiting for the answers, and let us help you find them. To learn more visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com

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03

Thoughts on How to Care for Yourself When in Grief

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Depression & Alzheimer's

The five areas of ourselves that really need extra care now are (1) your physical self, (2) your emotional self, (3) your mental self, (4) your spiritual self, and (5) your social self. Below are somethings that will help in each of these areas.

Physical

  • Good food (junk food, caffeine, & alcohol will sabotage your healing).
  • Sleep/rest – your energy field and immune system are in shock.
  • Walking in nature is healing – head for a park, zoo, or conservatory.

Emotional

  • Forgiveness and total lack of blame for everyone.
  • Giving support & compassion to all others who are suffering now in this.

Mental

  • Get a clear & total understanding of what lead up to the tragedy.
  • Do not make any major decisions for a while.
  •  Silence and calming music will help you heal.

Spiritual

  • Ask God/your Higher Power to allow you to feel his love & support.
  • Know that time always heals.

Social

  • Your family cares about you and wants your well-being.
  • Calm conversations with other family members will help you.
  • Your friends want to help; let them know ways in which they can-
  • Suggest making a meal, walking the dog, doing laundry- anything that seems to be a burden right now. This will help them.

If anyone causes you anxiety, remove yourself from them- some people are negative by nature and will be toxic for you & your recovery.

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13

Should I Get a Divorce?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Marriage and divorce

Making the decision to divorce is often one of the most difficult choices to make for any person or couple considering separation. If you are questioning your decision or are trying to make a decision about whether or not to separate or divorce your spouse, it is important to think things through.

Of course there is no one question or set of questions to help you make this life decision, however there are some important things to consider that may help you sort through your thoughts and feelings related to your relationship.

Questions To Keep In Mind

  • What are the things that you would miss about this relationship?
  • What would ending this relationship lead you to give up? Think hard on this, there are always things you lose with the ending of a relationship.
  • Are there more things you can do to try to make this relationship work?
  • What is your role in this relationship not working? Are there things you could work on to improve this relationship?
  • Have you gotten all the help you could from counseling, your respected family members or others who may be able to support you in finding ways to work things out?
  • Is this a relationship you could see making improvements?
  • Is your spouse open to working on things?
  • Could you see yourself committing to try couples counseling or another form of relationship help to try to make changes?
  • Do you have children or other family members who will be impacted by this?
  • Can you imagine your life without your partner? If so, are there things you could learn to imagine having your partner also be a part of?
  • Is this relationship abusive in any way (emotionally, physically or verbally)? Is this something your or your partner needs to work on?
  • Are the issues you are having now a pattern you have had in other relationships?
  • Have you done everything you could to make things work? If not, what are your reasons for not trying?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Without working on issues you have and patterns from your current and past relationships, it is important to remember that you may just repeat this pattern in your next relationship. Furthermore, to prevent regrets or just avoidance of your own issues, it is important to consider if there is more you could do to save or repair this relationship.

Ultimately, you need to make this choice for what is best for both you and your family. It is a huge decision with lasting impacts. Learn more about the services we offer for couples at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

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26

Develop Your Child’s Self-Efficacy

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Therapist and client

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Pretty much all parents aim to have confident and successful children. At the core of a confident person is the belief that “I am able”, “I can do this” or “I am good”. One of the keys to raising confident children is to help children to develop a sense of self-efficacy.

How To Encourage Self-Efficacy

In simple terms, you build self-efficacy through accomplishing things and doing things on your own. To help build this, never do for a child what they can do for themselves. Never is a strong word but if you err closer to never than always you are teaching your child that they can do for themselves, they are capable and they can figure their own problems out.

Children are always making decisions that shape their personality. Decisions become beliefs. Children are making decisions about:

  • Who they are (good or bad, capable or not capable)
  • What the world is like (safe or threatening)
  • What they need to do to survive or to thrive (based on decisions above)

My challenge to you: Try to draw out children’s own sense of resourcefulness. Encourage them to take risks and try things on their own so they can build up a reserve of confidence from all of their successes!

Parenting is hard business. Learn more about how we can help you learn the tools to be an effective parent at :https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

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08

Communicating With Your Teen

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

“I can’t take one more minute of this!”

“Don’t you dare think you can talk to me that way and get away with it!”

“Why don’t you ever listen to me? Do you think I’m talking to hear myself?”

“I don’t know why you have to make things so difficult!”

Even though we don’t like to admit it, many parents have either said, or heard someone say these things to an upset teenager. We try to tell ourselves that our teens are just making their problems into bigger issues, because things are no different than when we were teenagers.

News flash: things ARE different.

Then vs. Now

In our day, you didn’t find out that you missed out on a party until Monday when you got to school. Now, teens are posting pictures everywhere, and your child knows immediately that they’ve been left out.

In our day, magazines and movies served as our inspiration for our looks and fashion. Now, kids are inundated with images of supermodels, TV stars, reality TV, social media starlets, and the Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat feed of kids they try to emulate.

In our day, being bullied meant that someone might knock your books out of your hand, or pass a note about you. Now, private messaging on social media allows for kids to be silently bullied while the whole world watches. And the result of this bullying is that suicide, teen violence and self harm have become more common.

In a world of in your face, up-to-the-minute moments, most of the conversations for many parents and their teens start with, “Could you put your phone down for a second?”. That ever familiar scroll-scroll-scroll of seeing what else is going on makes it hard to connect with your teens. Often, they don’t even know how to say what they’re thinking, because their thoughts don’t come out in 140 word phrases. Furthermore, they can’t edit, filter, or tag anyone, and they don’t like how messy and uncontrolled an open dialogue can be.

How to Approach Communicating With Your Teen

So where do you go? How do you help them? How do you draw them out, so they can share even the smallest things, like how their day was?

As a parent, it’s okay to not have all the answers, and to not get where they are coming from. However, offering to listen is the first step. So, if they don’t feel like they can talk to you, offer to find someone they can talk to. This is the best second step you can take. And a counselor can open those lines of communication. We can help them explore who they are, and how their feelings play into their role in the family. If you’re tired of the sadness of being frustrated, now is the time to ask for help.

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22

The Root of Conflict

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Everyone has conflict in life. It is natural for us to have some conflict and arguments with others. Do you ever find yourself struggling to identify the root of a conflict?

What Causes Conflict?

Angeles Arrien, author of “The Four Fold Way” suggests 3 reasons for conflict:

  1. Not saying what we mean
  2. Not doing what we say
  3. Not saying what is so when it is so

Here are some ideas to consider when working to solve a conflict you may be having.

Not saying what we mean

  • Speak your truth! Get clear on your intention; ask yourself “what is my goal here?” Once you have that figured out work to speak your truth without blame or judgment.

Not doing what we say

  • If you commit to something, honor those commitments or communicate changes that may occur. When you don’t follow through on what you say you do, you damage the relationship. Trust or lack thereof can cause immeasurable damage to any relationship. Be a person of your word.

 Not saying what is so when it is so

  • Don’t hold back truths out of fear. Get clear on your goal/intenet and say what is so with love and care. When we communicate concerns or issues, we cast light on them and without light it can be hard to find the way out of any problem.

The next time you find yourself in a conflict, take the time to reflect on the situation and try to identify the cause of the issue. Then, you can work towards changing the dialogue. In addition, by using the ideas above, you may find yourself having more mindful and honest conversations when future conflicts arise.

For more information on “The Four Fold Way” check out our Relationship and Personal Growth page!

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