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March 13, 2018

The fine art of mastering emotions does not come easily or naturally, as you can see at your local grocery store where you can routinely find a two year kicking and screaming on the floor because they can’t get some gum at the checkout line. We certainly feel for the parents and thank god it’s not our kid, but quickly overlook how difficult it was for all of us at one time to manage and regulate our feelings. If you are still doubting, just ask your parents and I’m sure they will be delighted to recount the time you cried for 3 days when your goldfish died, how you were so mad at your brother when he won monopoly that you took a swing at him, or how you refused to sleep in your bed for a week because you were terrified of the boogeyman. If all goes well over the first 15-20 years of our life, you had good role models, and supportive family and friends; you slowly learned to regulate and manage your emotions, despite the gasoline that puberty dumps on our emotional fires. Unfortunately, for many of us, we may not have weathered the storm unscathed and continue to find ourselves wrestling to manage our feelings. When it comes to emotional regulation, it’s important to be able to both experience feelings internally as well as express them outwardly in a healthy controlled manner. This represents a nice healthy middle ground, however we certainly see people on both ends of read more

February 28, 2018

Self-care means taking care of yourself. Right? If you are defining this idea with the words themselves, it may mean you have a fuzzy idea about what self-care actually is and should look like. Let’s take a moment to try to better understand what this thing is so you stand a better chance of implementing it into your routine and can try to make your life better. With clients I often describe self-care as the counter balance to stress. Where stress will run you down and deplete you, good quality self-care should replenish and recharge your batteries. Self-care is actually made up of those activities people do when they need to relax and rejuvenate. There are three important parts to self-care in order to execute effectively on this tool. First, is having a well-tuned barometer. You need to know when the pressure is getting to you and it’s time to implement some self-care. Another metaphor is that self-care is like the fuel gauge on your car. You don’t want to break down on the highway before you realize that you have run out of gas. It’s important to have some internal awareness about how you are doing and how much reserves you have in the tank. Be sure to fill up some time before you wake up and realize you can’t get out bed. Second, you must be willing to give yourself permission to do self-care. This may seem a bit silly. Really? Do something fun and enjoyable? Boy, read more

February 14, 2018

    The concept of content and process is probably one of the single most important concepts in mastering communication in your relationship.  

  • Content: The content, when we are talking about couples and their communication problems, refers to what they are talking or arguing about. Some common content issues include: sex, money, kids, in-laws, or whose turn it is to take out the garbage. It’s the “what” we are discussing.


  • Process: The process refers to how a couple is talking to each other. Some common process pitfalls include: making assumptions, being critical, stonewalling, or switching topics to name just a few. The process is how our conversations break down, or goes smoothly.


  • A to B: There are many little steps in getting from point A (the problem) to point B (the solution). All these little steps make up the process.


  • Most couples are great at identifying and bringing up the problem (point A) but rarely seem to make it to any solution or resolution (point B). Things break down in the process and it gets swept under th

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January 31, 2018

Addiction is a disease that does not just affect the person who is engaging in addictive behaviors, it also affects those loved one around them. The impact can be so sweeping that many people become obsessed with the person’s addiction and trying to do something about it. Below are attributes common to those with codependency.  

  • Collusion: Many people help support their partner’s addiction by covering up for them in some way. Social rules about family image and social perceptions pull many people into the addictive process and they become a party to the secrecy. Collusion can also take the form of participating in the addictive behavior. Some become drinking or using “buddies” or gambling partners. Rationalization is also a big part of collusion. Partners tell themselves such things as; “At least he’s not at the strip club, he’s only online”, or “At least she’s not shooting up”.
  • Obsessive Preoccupation: Codependents obsess about their partner’s behavior and their lives. They think constantly about their partner’s addiction. They find themselves checking emails, texts, computer history, hiding spots, connections, dealers, checking and credit card statements. These efforts may provide temporary relief of anxiety and create the illusion of control, but in the end they simply help peopl

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January 17, 2018

Problems with sleep is one of the number one symptoms and complaints we hear in therapy. Below are some tips to help you work into a good sleep routine.

  • Taking a hot bath or shower before bed will increase your body’s core temperature and help you relax.
  • Avoid caffeine after 10:00 am. If you need to have coffee or soda try to confine it to early morning giving time for the stimulating effects to wear off before bed. Try to avoid foods that have caffeine such as apples and chocolate.
  • Avoid naps during the day. Even though they feel good at the time, this will catch up with you when you crawl into bed and find yourself awake and refreshed from your nap earlier.
  • Use relaxation strategies. There are countless books and tapes that teach a variety of methods from breathing exercises, to metal exercises, to progressive relaxation. Find one that works for you and use it before and while getting into bed.
  • Carbohydrates can be helpful for sleep. Having some toast, cereal, or popcorn before bed can help promote sleep.
  • Avoid nicotine. If you smoke, try not to have any cigarettes 2-3 hours before bed. Nicotine feel psychologically relaxing to many people, but it is actually physically stimulating and causes veins and arteries to constrict, making your heart and body work even harder; i.e., arou

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January 2, 2018

We always hear about the importance of stress management and the countless ways to help ourselves decompress from the impact of the various stressors we all deal with. Hopefully, this will be your aerial view of stress management from five thousand feet. One way to conceptualize stress is to visualize the stressors in your life on one side of scale measuring from 0-100, and your coping skills on the other side of the scale also measuring from 0-100. For most people their coping skills remain static and unmoving. They have what they have in order to cope with life and its stressors. Perhaps it registers at 68 and the person can cope with most things life brings reasonably effectively. On the other side stressors are rarely static. In fact, they usually fluctuate up and down in a given day or week. Perhaps ranging from 40-80 at any given point, after all most of us feel like we are routinely trying to juggle several things at once. Most people will continue to do fine in life so long as their coping skills exceed their stress level. For instance, a stress level of 56 relative to the above noted 68 on the coping side.  In fact, most of will endure and get through even when stress goes above our coping level, so long as it comes back down reasonably quickly. It is vital that our stress level not exceed our coping abilities for extended periods of time or we fall prey to burn out a read more

December 19, 2017

Ensuring that you have a network of supportive people in your life is critically important. There are mountains of research confirming the value and benefits of having a strong support network. Many people utilize their support network as a way to manage stress, as a means of self-care, and a venue to process and regulate their emotions. A good support system can also be a sounding board to vent to, as well as check our thinking and conclusions.   Beyond simply having a network of people, it is also important to make sure you have carefully vetted them out over time to ensure that they are safe and trustworthy. High quality people in your support network are mentally and emotionally safe; meaning they are kind, caring, supportive, and non-judgmental. You can share things and be vulnerable knowing you will not be ridiculed, judged, or belittled by them. You also want to choose to surround yourself with trustworthy people who have proven to be honest, dependable, and reliable. You don’t have to be a social butterfly or an extravert to create a solid support system. Having 3-6 really close people is often adequate for most people.   Support networks also require on-going maintenance. Relationships that are not nurtured tend to fade and be less accessible when we need them. In today’s global economy it is more common that people will move away for work or travel seaso read more

December 6, 2017

Many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD and there is an increasing number of adults seeking ADHD medications to help with focus, energy, and concentration. But do they really have it? First let’s cover some facts. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-known childhood disorder that affects 5-7% of children and presents with problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. What is less well known is that 30-70% of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms into adulthood. In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, there must be a childhood onset with persistent and continued symptoms. Symptoms do not come and go. ADHD is also not something acquired in middle age. If a person has it, they have always had it. Men are 4 times more likely to have this disorder.   There are three different types of ADHD: an inattentive type, hyperactive type, and combined type. In children the combined type is most common. As children age into young adulthood many notice their hyperactive symptoms improve, but tend to see the inattentive symptoms persist. Inattentive symptoms include: 1) fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless mistakes, 2) has difficulty sustaining attention for long periods of time, 3) does not seem to listen when spoken to, 4) often fails to follow through with projects, 5) has trouble organizing activities or tasks, 6) read more

November 21, 2017

There are some people who look forward to the holidays all year and can’t wait for them to arrive. Other people enjoy the holiday, but find them to be a strain while trying to juggle all the responsibilities of their regular life, along with the additional shopping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking. Then there are some who find the holidays to be quite difficult. It may bring up feelings of grief and loss, they are simply too overwhelmed with the demands, or are set off by attempting to endure family members who trigger a lot of emotional turmoil and issues.  A survey from a few years ago reported that 45% of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas. Another poll revealed that 50% of people are very financially stressed over the holidays and have a lot of anxiety over getting and giving gifts. Many begin to experience symptoms like disturbed sleep, low energy, impaired concentration, headaches, and much more.  Much of our stress can stem from expectations, especially those that might be unrealistic. Lots of people go into the holidays with the idea that everything needs to be perfect. They think they need to cook up the most fantastic meals, initiate the most interesting and thought provoking conversation, and somehow make sure everyone gets along well and is respectful toward each other. It soun read more

November 8, 2017

Description Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time of year annually. The most common is the winter depression that starts in the fall and goes through to early spring. SAD has only been recognized since 1985 and tends to occur more frequently the further away from the equator people live. People actually diagnosed with SAD is around 5%, but upwards of 20% of people can have some symptoms of SAD. It occurs four times more often in women than men and average age of onset seems be around 23 years old. Symptoms can start out mild at the beginning of the season and worsen as the season goes on.   Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you notice the same symptoms come and go away each year in a cyclical pattern for the past two years. 1) depressed (sad or empty) mood most of the day, 2) hopelessness, 3) weight gain, 4) oversleeping, 5) lowered energy level/fatigued, 6) anxiety, 7) social isolation, 8) indecisiveness or lack of concentration, 9) loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities, 10) increased appetite, especially for carbohydrates.   Causes of seasonal affective disorder remain unknown however some factors have been implicated. Serotonin levels are known to affect depression and it is believed that reduced s read more