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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
stress

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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26

How To Help Someone Struggling With Thoughts of Suicide

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
stress

According to the CDC, more than 38,000 Americans commit suicide each year. While we often think of suicide in relation to teens or the younger population, middle-aged males make up the majority of suicides in the U.S.

Suicide can be the result of any number of issues that someone is facing. However, an estimated 90% of people who committed suicide were suffering from substance abuse issues or a mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD. Suicide can be the tragic answer that some turn to when they feel they have no other options.

Warning Signs

Suicide can be difficult to prevent. However, if you are aware of the warning signs you may be able to help a person who is struggling. Some warning signs of suicide are:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being a burden to others
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest or withdrawing from activities

Keep in mind this is not a complete list of the warning signs of suicide. Therefore, if you suspect that someone you care about may be contemplating suicide, read on to find out what you can do to help them.

What to do if you suspect someone may be suicidal

  • Be open to talking with them and listening to what they have to say.
  • Try not to discredit their feelings or minimize their problems. Focus on validating them for how they feel.
  • Let someone else know.
  • If the person doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger: encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional or doctor.
  • If the person seems to be in immediate danger: stay with them and contact a suicide prevention resource or accompany them to the emergency room or to mental health services.

Furthermore, if you or someone you know think they may be suffering from a mental illness, it is key to begin treatment as soon as possible. As a result, this can help to prevent the symptoms from worsening and lessen the likelihood of them resorting to suicide.

Resources For Suicide

Some additional resources that may be helpful for someone who is thinking about suicide or someone looking to help are:

Those who are suicidal often times will not reach out for help. Sometimes the simplest things like letting someone know that you are there for them can give them the hope they need to open up to someone and potentially save their life.

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30

What fills you up?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

In life there are so many things that zap our energy.  As a result, we become so busy just trying to get things done that we end up forgetting to fill up the engine. Here I am speaking of doing things that give you energy, instead of take it away.  What fills you up?

Often, we forget to take time to take care of ourselves when there is so much to be done to take care of everyone and everything else. Today I am challenging you to think about what you can do to fill yourself up with energy.

Mental Energy Enhancers

  • Reading a book or listening to a book on tape
  • Spending time with friends and family who are positive
  • Managing your money well
  • Keeping your home, office and care neat and clean
  • Face old conflict and find ways to resolve them
  • Be aware not to become overscheduled; leave some breathing room and do not overbook yourself

Physical Energy Enhancers

  • Nutritious diet
  • Doing things at your own pace rather than how someone else dictates them
  • Relaxation activities (such as yoga, meditation, massage)
  • A warm bath
  • Lay in the sun for 10-15 minutes
  • Hugs

Spiritual Energy Enhancers

  • Say only what you believe to be the truth (speak your truth without blame or judgment)
  • Do each thing with love
  • Practice being grateful
  • Focus on what you have instead of what you do not
  • Spend time in nature
  • Listen to and follow your inner guidance
  • Say no to things that go against your beliefs

As a result, there are many ways for you to refuel your energy levels to help support you in living a vibrant life. If you want help learning to figure out ‘what fills you up?’, consider seeking council.

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09

What unique gift or talent do you bring to the world?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
unique gifts

Deep within us all exist unique gifts or talents needed by the world around us. Often we can get stuck in patterns of negativity, unhealthy relationships, a bad job or other things that take away from our talents. Sometimes we may not even know we have lost sight of our talents or maybe they have never been discovered…

Often we have found that when people take time to reflect upon their values and beliefs they are more likely to discover some unique talents about themselves.  Here are some questions that could help you begin to explore your values and beliefs:

Have you asked yourself?

  • What are you energized by?
  • Do you know your personal strengths? (One good tool to help you uncover your strengths is StrengthsFinder 2.0)
  • What is the most important to you in life?  What are the top 10 things? How about the top 5? Or the number one most important thing?
  • Are there things that that you enjoy doing at your current job? What don’t you enjoy?
  • If you could do anything with your life, what would you do? What would be fulfilling about that?
  • Is anything else missing from your life?

While, you may find yourself wondering “what are my talents?” or “I don’t have anything unique to offer the world”, these exist within all of us. Your talent may be your ability to observe beauty around you or it may be your ability to be a good listener to others. Any talent or skill has a way to make the world a better place. Therefore, I encourage you to challenge those thoughts and seek ways to begin uncovering your uniqueness.

In addition, sometimes a person’s values and beliefs are strongly tied to their unique gifts and talents. If you are still struggling to uncover your unique talent, seek a professional counselor or coach to help you to reveal your inner beauty.

As a result, in uncovering your unique talents, you can become able to make choices that will allow you to share your full potential while, making the world a brighter place.

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10

Teen Stress

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Teen Stress

The teen years involve a lot of stress. Some studies have indicated that teen stress is on the rise, yet many of the stressors of teens are the same as those faced by teens throughout the yesteryears. Furthermore, counseling for teen stress can help them to work on the many struggles particular to being an adolescent.

The teen years involve many unique challenges from other phases of life. Let us count the ways teen stress exists:

  • First, most teens want to fit in. An important phase of the teen years is finding a sense of acceptance. Teens seek a sense of this through friends, family and community culture. This is easy for some and very difficult for others and the social hierarchy is always at the forefront of teens attention.
  • Second, 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.
  • Also, brain development is rapid. In the teen years the frontal lobe begins to develop. Thus allowing teens to plan more and sometimes making them feel they know it all!
  • In addition, 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.
  • Last, teens are grappling with questions like, “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”.

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

Since teen stress will always exist, it’s important we learn to support our children through these years. To learn more about how to support your teen in developing the skills to navigate the teen years visit our website here.

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28

What is play therapy? Learn more here!

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Play therapy

What is play therapy? Play therapy is an interactive form of counseling. It that allows children to express themselves. Children express their thoughts, feelings and struggles through play. Adults and teens are often able to understand and express themselves through talk therapy. Children, on the other hand, often have not yet developed the skills to process difficult situations and feelings through traditional talk therapy.

In therapy children are allowed the freedom to express themselves in a therapeutic setting. Play therapy is nonjudgmental and safe. Often children will act out whatever is bothering them through metaphors within their play. Play therapy may involve individual sessions with just the child. It may also include other family members (siblings, parents, etc…). Family therapy is frequently a part of therapy with children as well.

Also, play therapy can include activities such as art, playing board games or playing with dolls. Therapists use the normal ways children play to help them process feelings.

In addition, this therapy also involves a component that includes parents. Parents often can help the child to develop better emotion regulation, positive self esteem and much more. The involvement of parents in a child’s therapy will vary depending upon the presenting concern but may include the following:

  • Parenting skills sessions
  • Family therapy
  • Interaction therapy to improve the parent-child relationship
  • Homework for parents to help the child with as they develop new skills.

For more information about play therapy services in your area, check out: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/play-therapy

 

 

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09

Learning to Let Go

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

One of the hardest obstacles in life at times can be in learning to let go. Often we have ideas about how things should be or how we want things to be. The trick is in knowing when it’s time to let those wants and beliefs about how things could or should be go.

So, how do you know when to let go?

I find that you need to release yourself from those wants when consistently your needs aren’t being met or that hanging on to whatever it may be causes you more unhappiness and pain than vice versa.

Think about the big thing in your life that you are struggling to decide – should I stay or should I go? Yeah, yeah, the song comes to mind for me too! But really, what is it? A job, a relationship, a friendship, an old goal that no longer fuels your passion?

The struggle I often see is setting your expectations for what you want out of whatever it is you struggle to decide to hold on to or to let go of, yet not sticking to those basic needs and desires. Do you need more meaning in your work? Has your relationship become a greater source of unhappiness than happiness? Do you have a friend who has become more of an energy drain than a source of support? Do you have a roommate or spouse who is more of a burden than someone you want to invest time and energy into?

Think of the pros and cons

Life seems to sometimes boil down to weighing out the pros and cons. What are the pros or sticking with it versus not? What are the cons of sticking with it versus letting go?

In the end, no one else can decide your right or wrong. No one else can say let it go or stick with it and give it your all.

I encourage you to take the time to weigh out your list of positive versus negative for both options. Often you already know the answer, however sometimes it’s easier to stay complacent. It is your responsibility to get your needs met. If you are in a situation that ultimately is more of a burden than a source of light, often it is time to let go.

Hold your wants lightly. When you practice that, you too become lighter and more able to actualize your best self.
To learn more about becoming your best self and letting go, visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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17

10 Communication Tips for Couples

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Put your relationship first by seeking couples counseling.

Put your relationship first by seeking couples counseling.

Communication with couples can be difficult. Here we share 10 communication tips for couples. If you are struggling to communicate effectively with your partner, couples counseling has been proven to support improved communication between couples.

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