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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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11

Antidepressants Versus Placebo

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
learn about antidepressants

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

What is a Placebo?

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

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

Alternative Options

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

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

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

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

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18

Embrace Your Mistakes

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
New thinking

Some may find this a shock but I make mistakes. Seriously! Okay, well now that you are over the shock of it all, let’s talk about how to embrace your mistakes and love your imperfect self.

How Do I Embrace My Mistakes?

It is inevitable that you will make mistakes. While making a mistake may feel discouraging or may cause you negative thoughts, they can be useful opportunities to help us improve ourselves.

When you discover you have made a mistake, embrace it by acknowledging any consequences or damage done. Apologize if necessary and take ownership for your mistake. Then identify what you can learn from the situation and move on knowing you will do better next time!

See mistakes as wonderful opportunities to learn. When we accept our mistakes, and ourselves we can learn and realize how our imperfections can help us grow.

It may take some time to adapt to this new style of thinking about mistakes, but there are little things that you can do to incorporate this kind of thinking into your everyday life. If you have a family, make it a practice to create an environment of acceptance towards mistakes. For example, at dinnertime have everyone share a mistake and what he or she learned from it. When we model for our children that we can be imperfect, it gives them the space to feel positively about themselves in spite of the lessons learned through mistakes.

More than anything ~ have the courage to be imperfect, because we all are! Learn more about how we can help you be your best self at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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17

Are You Made of “Solid Gold”?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

These days we frequently hear advertisements luring us to sell the “old gold” we having lying around the house. However, how do we know if it’s real? If it’s pure through and through? That got me to thinking about congruence within ourselves. Are we pure gold through and through?

What Does It Mean To Be “Solid Gold”?

It has to do with values. Not WHAT you value, but what DO you value. By this I mean living and behaving according to our values. We all know and admire folks like this. They do what they say and they believe what they do.

In counseling others, I encourage clients to think about this. Are you living and behaving according to your values? When you do, peace will be yours and so will respect. It’s a challenge to really sit back and take our own inventory. It can be much easier to take the inventory of others, however then change doesn’t really occur.

Counseling is a way to gently guide you to your true golden self.

For more information about counseling visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-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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27

Be Open to Outcome, Not Attached to It

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Open to outcome

Reflect for a Moment

Do you often find yourself wanting to be in control? Do you end up in a job or relationship for too long because you really want things to work out, even though it causes you unhappiness? Have you ever found yourself continually trying to make something work that just clearly isn’t working? If you answered yes or maybe to any of these questions, this article holds a critical lesson.

Be Open to Outcome, Not Attached to Outcome

This lesson is embedded in the practices of Buddhism. This tends to be a very difficult way of life for people of Western cultures. One of the biggest obstacles is our sense of security in believing things will work out the way we want them to. It seems as though this is a common illusion we often have. A Yiddish proverb tells us “We plan, god laughs.”

Being attached to outcome has many negative consequences as well. If you are attached to an outcome you won’t hear things that are inconsistent with the way you want things to be. In addition, you may end up with unnecessary unhappiness trying to make something work that no matter what you do just isn’t going to work.

Begin paying attention in your own life to whether you are being attached or open to outcome. Furthermore, observe yourself with open-minded curiosity. It is always good to hope for the best. However, it is never wise to expect the best. Remember: be open to outcome, not attached to outcome.

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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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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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