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07

How Therapy Strengthens Love

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
love

The Valentine’s Day season is around the corner, and so is the pressure to celebrate it. During this time of year, there is no shortage of candy brands reminding us that the best way to express love is through treats. The fact of the matter is that love is a daily choice that requires much more than chocolate. 

Oftentimes we can get caught up in the overwhelming stress of life’s commitments. Therapy is a tool that helps us process our feelings and open our minds to giving and receiving love, thereby strengthening our relationship with others. 

Therapy teaches us to love ourselves with…

Compassion

Maybe you’re familiar with the phrase “You are your own worst critic”. 

Unfortunately, this phrase holds more truth than we want to believe. Psychology Today’s article discusses the negative impact that self-criticism can have on our mental health. Therapy creates a safe space where we can process the internal disapproval that we allow ourselves to be burdened with. By reducing some of these burdens, we can free our minds to make room for more positive mindfulness and self-love. 

Recognition

When we’ve learned to exercise compassion, there will then be space for recognition. The thought of having to be mindful and vulnerable is scary, but breaking down our internal barriers empowers us to see our strengths. All too often, we do not give ourselves enough credit for the good qualities that we have. We have a tendency to break ourselves down, instead of building ourselves up. By doing the opposite, and recognizing our strengths, we can master the art of loving who we are. 

Development

One way we can learn to love ourselves is by taking steps to help us meet our potential. Therapy creates a safe space where we can discover what we need to grow. This can be hard to do, as sometimes we are forced to acknowledge parts of ourselves that we hope not to. But, by managing bad habits or negative mindsets, we can develop into the thriving person we hope to be.

Therapy teaches us to love others with…

Communication

Communication is an important part of every relationship. If you google synonyms for “communication” you might find words like “give” or “deliver”. Very rarely do we equivocate communication with “receiving”. It’s important to remember that communication between two people goes both ways. While this practice requires speaking with calm tones and kind words, it also requires active listening. Therapy not only teaches us the techniques to be heard, but also the ability to hear others. This can be hard to put into practice, but, when done correctly, allows us to build a greater connection. 

If you’re looking for active ways that you can practice better communication with your partner, check out our blog on 10 Communication Tips for Couples

Recognition

When we interact with others, we tend to get caught up in the moment. It’s easy to forget that the other person has a different perspective from our own. Therapy teaches us to take a step back and recognize the kinds of burdens that others might be carrying. Check out Psychology Today’s article on the 5 Ways Empathy is Good for Your Health. By practicing empathy, we will find that we can build stronger connections with others. 

Compassion

Just like we should work to be less critical of ourselves, therapy helps us to be less critical of each other. It can be hard to let go of the things that hurt us, but the practice of compassion can help us move forward. Therapy creates a safe environment where we can learn this skill, together, and strengthen our connections.

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26

Simple Self Care

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Photo by Dmitriy Frantsev on Unsplash

As we wind down from the holidays and settle back into our routines, we may find ourselves already dreading the season of cold and day-to-day living that awaits us. At times like these, it is important to actively engage in self-care. Some days, taking care of ourselves can come naturally. However, there are some days when it just feels like we don’t have enough time or energy to devote to proper care for our minds and bodies. 

Here are 5 simple methods of self-care that will have a big impact on how you feel with a small impact on your schedule.

Hydrate

We tend to associate being dehydrated with extreme physical symptoms. We forget that it can be a mild, everyday, occurrence resulting in a profound impact on our mental health. Drinking water throughout the day can help boost your energy and your mood, reducing overall feelings of depression and anxiety. If you struggle to keep up with your water intake, start with small goals. For example, drink a glass of water when you wake up, and at every meal. There are also great resources, and apps to help you track how much water you drink a day. Find a system that works for you, and start small. Remember to set achievable goals, and build as you go. 

Listen to Music

Listening to some good beats can be an excellent way to add simple self-care to your routine. It can help you gear up for your day, or wind down for the evening. You might have 5 minutes to sit and meditate, or have a day packed full of activities. Luckily, listening to music is an easy self-care method that can fit into any schedule. 

How does science link music to mental health? The University of Central Florida has a great tool that helps us understand how music positively impacts each area of the brain. Check it out here: https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/your-brain-on-music/

Take a Warm Shower (or bath)

When we experience extreme emotions like stress or anxiety, our muscles can get very tense. We might start to feel like we are stuck, or that our bodies have locked up. Taking 10 minutes for a hot shower can help relieve a lot of that tension, and allow us to relax. If you find that you have some extra time, try taking a warm bath right before bed to get a good night’s sleep. 

Take a Hike!

…Actually, even a short walk around the block will do some good. A study done in 2013 found that people who suffered from depression experienced a positive mood shift after walking outside for 50 minutes. In addition to a mental boost, a walk around the neighborhood is a simple and free way to add a little exercise to the day. 

Check our our blog post on what happens when you spend time outside.

Breathe

This last act of simple self-care requires little effort but will have mighty results. Deep breathing sessions are a great way to help the mind and body find a space to relax. If you’re experiencing anxiety, it can also slow your heart rate, and help to regain control. This exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Some smartwatches and phones come with guided breathing applications that make the process easy and convenient.  

If you want to give it a try, you can also check out this 3-minute guided breathing exercise video

These 5 acts of Simple Self-Care are a great way to boost your mood, and they only take 30 minutes or less. Consider adding just one to your daily routine, and you will find that even the slightest change can make a big difference. 

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13

Six ways to reduce anxiety

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

According to the ADAA, anxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults every year. In addition, we are living in a very anxious time with all that is happening with COVID-19. While it is common to experience anxiety on a daily basis, there are also small steps to take to reduce the anxiety in our lives.

Here are six simple ways to fight the stress in your life.

1. Meditation and breathing

There are many ways to engage in mindful breathing and meditation, but one way in particular is yoga practice.  Yoga helps you connect your mind and body. According to one study, researchers found that yoga practice shows a decrease in anxious and depressive symptoms in a variety of populations. 

2. Grounding

This is a technique that connects you to the present moment. Use the 3-3-3 rule in time of anxiousness. Name 3 things you see, 3 things you hear and move 3 body parts. Doing this will bring you back to the present moment and help you focus on what is happening around you.

3. Put stress in perspective

Take a step back and view your stress as part of a bigger picture. Try to maintain a positive attitude, and keep doing your best with the situation in front of you. Laugh often!

4. Food and drink

Limit alcohol consumption and stick to healthy, well-balanced meals. Avoid skipping meals, plan ahead and always have a healthy snack option on hand.

5. Reframe

Rethink your thoughts and fears. Often times when we are anxious, we think of worst-case scenarios. Each time a worry comes into your mind, reframe the thought and speak what you know is true about the situation. 

6. Practice saying no

Saying no to requests that others ask of you isn’t always selfish. By saying no to some things, you allow yourself to give more time and energy to the tasks that are already on your plate.

For some people, it can be very difficult to turn other’s requests down. To find more information about when and how to say no, check out this resource: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044494  

These techniques can be a small step in reducing the anxiety in your life. If you or someone you know is looking to set up an appointment with a counselor, our therapists at Collaborative Counseling are open to scheduling new clients through the Telehealth platform, so don’t hesitate to reach out today.

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08

Trauma Informed Therapy

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Individual Therapy for PTSD Treatment

If you are beginning your search for therapy, it can be hard to know where to start. It can be overwhelming to understand the types of therapy that are offered by therapists, and which one might be a good fit for you. Here we will cover the basics of trauma informed therapy and how this type of therapy may be helpful for you.

What is trauma?

Trauma is any distressing experience. Anyone can deal with trauma and we can experience trauma in varying degrees. 

Karen Onderko, the Director of Research and Education at Integrated Listening Systems describes different levels of trauma through large “t” and little “t” trauma. 

We often ignore or disregard little trauma, because these are things that do not completely disrupt our daily life. As Onderko puts it, small “t” trauma “seem(s) surmountable”. Life changes, relationship conflict or financial troubles can be trauma. The internalization of these events may be interpreted differently for everyone, so for some, they may not be as distressing.

On the other hand, large trauma sends us into deep distress or helplessness. These tend to be larger experiences, including things like traumatic events or ongoing stressors, such as emotional or physical abuse.  These are things that most people think of when they hear the word, “trauma”.

It’s important to acknowledge and understand that we can all experience trauma in many different forms and at different levels. Everyone internalizes life events differently.

What does trauma informed therapy mean?

Trauma informed therapy aims to understand how trauma affects one’s life. This type of therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which sees to identify our thoughts about how we view our current life situation or issue. CBT helps us learn how to change the way we view or think of ourselves.

Trauma informed therapy helps us process events that have happened in our past, how that may be triggering to us, and the effect it may take in our life.

How can it help?

The effectiveness of therapy increases when we discuss and recognize our trauma. It searches to identify and understand the root of our pain or anxiety, and then helps us understand ourselves from that perspective. 

This type of therapy is beneficial to anyone who experiences trauma—large or small. Through these traumas, we can see how that may influence our behavior. Understanding our behavior from this perspective may also help us grow into healthier behaviors sooner.

Overall, trauma informed therapy may be a good option for therapy for some, but there are plenty of types of therapy that are beneficial to those seeking help.

To find a list of therapy types, click here.

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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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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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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
Two Friends Hiking During the Golden Hour

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
The Collaborative Counseling Can Help

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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