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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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10

Tips for Going Back to School

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Getting ready for and going back to school can be a very stressful time. Following the slower pace of summer, many struggle to get back into the mind frame to focus on learning and schoolwork.

Here are our favorite tips for parents to help prepare for the transition into a new school year.

Practice Getting Back on a Schedule

Take the week or two leading up to the first day to transition back to your school-year schedule and routines. In addition, work to get you and your kids back on the usual sleep schedule for school.

Take Care of Any Health Needs

If your child needs a physical, check up or needs medication refills make sure to follow up with appropriate health care providers. Also, try to be proactive in getting help for both physical and mental health needs your child may have going into this next school year.

Get Oriented

If your child is going to start in a new school this year spend time getting familiar with the space. Practice finding their classrooms, restrooms, the office or nurse and any other areas they need to be familiar with. The best way to ease anxiety about this first day of school is to help your child feel as prepared as possible.

Be Prepared for the First Day

To decrease the stress of the first day help or remind your child to pack their bag. Also, have them pick their outfit the day before. In addition, make sure to have healthy breakfast and snack foods available for your child.

All of these tips are aimed at helping your child to be successful on their first day of school. Anything you can do to decrease the stress and anxiety of the first day of school is recommended. Remember, anxiety is often just about the unknowns. Therefore, the more of those you can decrease the better off your child will be. Most of all, we want to send kids into the school year focusing on academics and of course, friendships!

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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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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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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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11

Learning To Co-Parent

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Essentials For Effective Co-Parenting

Developing healthy co-parenting practices can be very difficult between two parents where conflicts exist. Co-parenting is something all parents must do, which is learn to parent with someone who has different ideas for how to raise a child. In families of divorce learning to co-parent your child or children can become even more difficult.

It is important that parents work to be as consistent between their two homes as possible. There will of course be different levels of co-parenting in families of divorce. There are a few components to co-parenting that are very important. In the “Good Enough Co-Parenting Model” we work to teach about the four most important areas that parents must learn to be able to talk about. To raise a child between two people, parents must be able to discuss matters related to:

  1. Education
  2. Behaviors
  3. Health
  4. Schedule

Some parents are able to learn to discuss even more areas, but these are the most important areas that parents need to be able to plan and work through in order to raise a child together.

Getting Along

Working to decrease conflict is important in families of divorce. Decreasing conflict is important for many reasons including:

  • The more conflict between parents, the more stressful divorce can be for children.
  • The level of fighting between parents is an indicator of how well a child will adjust to divorce (e.g. less conflict leads to better adjustment for the child).
  • It helps to reduce the amount of “splitting” or “double-lives” children are forced to lead.

While you don’t need to be best friends with your ex, learning to get along and discuss matters related to your children is going to improve the health of your entire family.

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20

What Is Validation?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Listening and Validation

Validation is when you listen to what another person is saying to you and reflect it back to them that you understand how they are feeling. An important thing to remember is validating is NOT necessarily agreeing with the other person. It also doesn’t mean you like what the other person is saying, doing or believing. You are simply restating back to the person what you hear them saying.

Why should we validate others?

There are many benefits to validating people, including it:

  • Shows you are listening
  • Lets people know that you care
  • Proves you understand the other person’s point of view
  • Is nonjudgmental
  • Improves communication and openness
  • Decreases conflict
  • Establishes trust

How do I validate others?

Validation involves listening to what the person is saying, stating back what you hear them saying to you and then responding to the person’s needs at that time.

For example, when talking to someone nod and make small gestures to show you are listening (e.g. say mmhmm, I see, huh). Then restate what you hear the person saying (e.g. “That really hurt your feelings”, “You didn’t like that”, “That pisses you off!” or “You’re angry!”). Respond by asking what the person needs, they may want space or a hug or to just vent a bit more while you listen.

Be mindful and avoid judging what the other person is saying. Show tolerance for the other person by working to recognize that their reaction makes sense considering his/her life situation, experiences and history even if you do not necessarily agree with that person.

What does it mean to be invalidating?

We invalidate people’s feelings when we minimize or disregard their experience. Some common examples: “Oh, you’ll get over it”, “You don’t need those friends anyway”, “It’s not that big a deal” or “You should…”.

What are the negative impacts of being invalidating?

There are many negative outcomes from not validating others’, including it:

  • Shows you aren’t listening
  • Says you don’t care or believe the other person
  • Shows you don’t understand the person
  • Is judgmental
  • Decreases openness and communication
  • Increases conflict
  • Decreases trust

The next time you are talking to your child, friend, lover, spouse or co-worker consider trying to just listen, reflect back what you hear and ask what the person needs in the moment. You may find it helps the person and also improves your relationship!!

Validation is a strong component of DBT, to learn more visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/dialectical-behavior-therapy-DBT

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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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