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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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13

Understanding Depression

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Growing Plant Symbolizing Hope for Depression

There is a common misconception that depression is a choice. The truth is that depression is a common yet serious mood disorder that has to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. People experience depression in a number of ways and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Depression can affect how someone feels and thinks as well their daily activities such as work and sleeping. There are a variety of factors that can put someone at-risk for developing depression such as:

  • Genetics: Depression can be hereditary and runs in families.
  • Environmental Factors: exposure to neglect, abuse and violence can be risk factors for depression.
  • Personality: Traits such as low self-esteem and being easily overwhelmed by stress can make people more vulnerable to depression.
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop depression.

It should be noted that depression can look different for everyone. Some common symptoms of depression include.

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability

Treatments for Depression

There are several therapeutic treatment options for depression. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based CBT and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) have all been shown to help reduce depressive symptoms and increasing coping skills.

Many courses of treatment for depression will include medications such as anti-depressants in combination with psychotherapy to treat depression. Remember, no two people are alike and therefore, neither are their treatments. What worked for one person may not work for you.

Additionally, activities such as yoga and exercise in general as well as meditation and healthy eating can all have an impact on our overall mood and help to decrease depressive symptoms.

If you are struggling with depression the first step is reaching out for help. Visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/  to learn more about the services we offer and the people who can help.

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07

What Kinds of Therapy Can Help Treat PTSD?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Individual Therapy for PTSD Treatment

PTSD, like other diagnoses, has many treatments that can be effective for a broad array of individuals. Here, we will discuss some of the most popular and effective treatments for PTSD.

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

TF-CBT specifically targets children and adolescents. It can also be helpful for adults who have suffered trauma. TF-CBT is especially helpful for youth who have experienced abuse, violence or grief resulting in PTSD. This is a short-term therapy that generally lasts anywhere between 8-25 sessions. TF-CBT works to change distorted or negative reactions and behaviors. Additionally, family dynamics are emphasized in this approach as therapists aim to teach parenting, stress management and communication skills that can help the client succeed.

EMDR

EMDR stands for Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It helps the brain to reprocess the memories of the traumatic event. In turn, this helps to relieve many of the symptoms associated with PTSD and improve a person’s overall functioning. EMDR is different than traditional talk therapy. It identifies specific memories to target, so the client fully process past experiences and the feelings associated with the memory. Eventually, the goal is to replace negative thoughts and feelings with more positive ones that promote healthy behaviors.

Narrative Therapy

 Narrative therapy focuses on the story that someone who has experienced trauma, tells themselves. The story told to oneself can influence how that person perceives the world and their experiences and ultimately, their well-being. NT requires the client to tell the story of their life (chronologically) focusing on the traumatic event(s) or experience(s). The therapist asks the client to narrate the traumatic experience(s) and describe their emotions, thoughts and physiological responses to the therapist, all while remining connected to the present. This therapy asks a person to reflect on their entire life which means it can address multiple traumatic incidents. In the end it can help the client realize their human rights and gain back their self-respect.

Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure therapy is a part of cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT). Many individuals who have experienced trauma actively avoid anything that reminds them of said trauma.

This intervention works to teach whose individuals to confront their trauma-related memories, feelings and situations. In turn, this decreases the symptoms of PTSD by teaching the individual that their memories and feelings surrounding their trauma are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided. This is also a short-term therapy lasting anywhere from 8-15 sessions and gradually challenges the individual to confront uncomfortable stimuli and cope with the emotions associated with the stimuli.

It is important to keep in mind that there are a wide variety of therapies that may be able to help you or someone you know deal with their trauma. The best place to start is to find someone you feel comfortable with that can help you work through what you are dealing with. A great deal of research indicates the benefit of therapy is strongly correlated to the relationship a person has with their therapist, so finding someone that you connect to is very important. Visit our website to learn more about our team and how they can help you move forward at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team.

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23

How to Find the Right Therapist For You

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Therapist and client

Trying to find a therapist that is a good fit for you can be challenging. While there are many wonderful therapists in the field, you need to know what you are looking for in a therapist to determine if they will be a good fit for you. Here, we share some tips to finding the right therapist for you.

Credentials

There are many different degree’s and titles that a therapist can hold. Below is a breakdown of the various titles and degrees and what they mean.

  • Psychologists: This is someone who holds a Doctoral Degree, either a PhD or PsyD. In addition to being trained in psychotherapy and counseling, they are also trained in psychological testing for issues such as ADHD or Autism.
  • Social Workers: These individuals hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW). Social workers who perform therapy will have the title LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker). Their education focuses on systems including the family and the community. They typically work with families and groups in addition to individuals.
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors: LPCC’s hold a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. They work with a variety of mental health issues and modalities. Their education focuses on being client-centered versus illness-centered.
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists: LMFT’s hold a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Their education focuses on family systems and relationships. They typically see couples, families and individuals.
  • Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors: LADC’s hold a Bachelor’s Degree at minimum. However, some people choose to hold this license in addition to their main license. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders.

Look Around

Take your time and look at therapist biographies and profiles on company websites or sites like https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.You can see pictures and descriptions of therapists as well as the issues they work with and their specialties. When looking at therapist bio’s take notice if they are selling themselves orthe work they do and their philosophy when it comes to working with clients. Pictures can be a helpful first indication to if you will feel comfortable with a therapist, so follow your gut! When searching for a therapist, keep in mind your preferred gender as well.

Keep an Open Mind

Once you choose a therapist, keep in mind that there is no obligation to return if you do not feel it was a good fit. Often, people will continue to see someone they do not connect with. Many times, this is because they do not want to hurt the therapist’s feelings. Remember, the therapeutic relationship should benefit you. If you feel you would connect better with someone else, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you decide to try someone else out, keep in mind what you liked about the previous therapist and what you did not. This will help you narrow your search and hone in on someone who may be perfect for you.

Check out the therapists we currently offer at our various locations within Collaborative Counseling!

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16

Mental Health IS Health

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Growing Plant Symbolizing Hope for Depression

When we think of being healthy, often it is physical health that comes to mind. Too often, we put our mental health on the back burner in life.  However, our mental and physical health are one in the same. It’s what we call the mind-body connection.

What is the Mind-Body Connection?

According to the University of Minnesota, the mind-body connection refers to the relationship between our attitudes, thoughts, feelings and actions and our biological functioning. Basically, our minds can affect how healthy our bodies are and vice versa. This affect can be negative or positive. It is important to note that when talking about the mind, we are not referring to the brain. Rather, the mind is made up of our mental states which can be both conscious and unconscious and include thoughts, feelings, emotions. A perfect example of the mind-body connection is anxiety. When we are anxious our body releases stress hormones which affect our overall biological functioning. For example, some people report that when they are anxious they experience tension in their shoulders, back or abdomen.

How to Strengthen Your Mind-Body Connection

There are several ways to promote a healthy mind-body connection. Self-care activities such as exercise, yoga, and meditation can promote a healthy body which in turn, promotes a mental state. There are several different therapies that also emphasize the mind-body connection and can help to promote a healthy mental state which encourages a healthy body. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapies and art therapy.

Try to incorporate some time for intentional movement in your day. This can be as small as a walk on your lunch break or using an app to help you meditate for a few minutes a day. Being aware of our thoughts, attitudes and feelings as well as taking the time to take care of and move our bodies is key to a positive mind-body connection.

To learn more about the mind-body connection visit: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-the-mind-body-connection

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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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