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March 29, 2020

In our first article on selecting a therapist, we talked about all the variables you need to be aware of before you even begin your search. Now that you have a good idea of what to inquire about, we will talk about how to conduct your search, what to expect in a first session, and red flags to watch for in evaluating if a therapist will be a good fit for you.

Performing the Search

Now that you know a bunch of the factors to be considering when scheduling, you should be ready to start the search. As noted, you can always contact your insurance carrier and they can filter a number of the things detailed above and provide you with a short list of counselors to try. Many people want something more than a random name, so they seek the suggestion of trusted people. This is typically their physician, a friend, or family member. If you know friends or family who may have had services in the past, you can certainly see if they liked their provider. Most physicians have a handful of trusted therapists that they refer to and have had experience with. New in the last 5-8 years are a variety of online provider search sites. Similar to an insurance carrier, you can put in a variety of search criteria for what you are looking for and the site will produce a list of providers for you. Keep in mind that this list is likely generated from counselors who are paying to advertise on that s read more

March 22, 2020

Just 1-2 months ago we were watching the news of the Corona Virus in China with the safety and security of nearly 7,000 miles of ocean between us. Today we find this threat on our doorstep and our world-changing all around us. All the things we took for granted are now becoming scarce and inaccessible. We face trying times ahead and many people think it may last for a while. Sustained stressors are one of the known variables that put us at risk for developing depression and anxiety disorders. Once you have a few essentials in place, it is going to be important to think about your mental and emotional wellbeing over the long haul of this crisis. Telehealth will be a great way to receive the services you need and retain your sense of safety and security by not having to go out.

What is Telehealth and How Can it Help During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Telehealth includes both teletherapy and telepsychiatry visits. Teletherapy is a psychotherapy session conducted over the internet using software that allows for both audio and visual display between a therapist and their client. Given the need to social distance at this time to prevent the spread of COVID-19, online therapy provides a convenient work around to be able to receive the services clients want, while protecting themselves and the public at the same time. Clients can remain in the safety of their home and still see highl read more

March 14, 2020

Making the decision to begin counseling takes a lot of courage. It is a difficult step for most people to take the leap of seeking the assistance of a professional. Many people are quite private about their personal affairs and are reluctant to talk about some of the most intimate details in their life, with what starts out as a perfect stranger. For other people, deciding to seek help is no big deal, but they do want to make sure they are finding the right person, so they are not wasting time, energy, and money. The research shows that most people will go through three counselors before they find the right one for them. We tell you this in part to set a realistic expectation. Be prepared to meet with more than just one person, and do not get discouraged and give up if the first person is not the right fit for you. Now with that in mind, let’s discuss some tips that can hopefully keep you on the lower end of that average before you find the right therapist.

Things to Consider Before You Pick Up the Phone

  • Insurance: Whether you have done therapy in the past and have a good idea of what you are looking for, or this is your first run at counseling, there are factors you will want to be mindful of before you book an appointment. The selection of a therapist in many ways is a narrowing process. The vast majority of people will be using their heal

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March 7, 2020

Anti-Depressants Background

Antidepressants have been around since the 1950’s and have a number of applications. Most people assume they are simply used for depression, but many people don’t realize how often they are used to treat anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety. They have also been shown to have some success with issues like anorexia and trichotillomania, which is a hair pulling disorder. According to results from the National Center for Health Statistics 12% of the U.S. population used antidepressants in the past month. With the stigma surrounding mental health declining over the past 20 years, more people are seeking help for their issues and this has resulted in a 64% increase in people using antidepressants since 1999. Research says 20% of the population (1 in 5 people) will struggle with some kind of depression or anxiety at some time in their lives. For this reason, it is important to know how these medications work and how effective they are.

What are the different types of anti-depressants?

There are three different types of antidepressants, which all work differently. The Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA’s) are the oldest and first generation of antidepressants. These were commonly prescribed up through the 1980s. Although they help with depression and anxiety, the side effects are difficult for a lot of people to tolerate. The TCA’s of read more

February 29, 2020

This is a handout used in therapy around acceptance and talks about why so many people have trouble with acceptance when it comes to upsetting events that occur in our interactions with others.

  • Upsetting Events: The first thing we need to examine in this model, is the validity of the upsetting event. Many events that are upsetting are a direct result of our perceptions and interpretations. Our thinking can often distort reality to fit our established beliefs and are accordingly upsetting. We may find that we can diffuse many upsetting events by examining our beliefs about the events or circumstances and no further action is needed beyond modifying our beliefs to be more rational and logical. If we conclude that the event is legitimately upsetting, then we can proceed through the model. For example, let’s say a friend stands you up for a lunch date because they didn’t feel like going. This is a situation that would be upsetting to most people, considering that a friend could have called and canceled.
  • Fairness is a Human Value: We find many people get hung up on the issue of fairness. This can be seen in children as early as two years old. We often hear them saying, “It’s not fair!” As humans, we seem to have this imbedded sense of what is just and fair. Many people dwell and ruminate on events

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February 22, 2020

Secondary Traumatic Stress

Most people are familiar with the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they know it typically comes from directly experiencing traumatic and/or life threatening events such as abuse, combat, natural disasters, medical emergencies, accidents, or any number of events that fall outside the scope of our normal lives. Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), also referred to as vicarious trauma, comes from indirect exposure to other people’s traumatic experiences. This is common to first responders who interact with the trauma as they try to help people, therapists who help people process through painful and upsetting experiences they have had, and even everyday people, supportive family members, or friends. One subtle venue that nearly everyone is exposed to is the media.

Can the Media Cause STS?

There is no shortage of graphic, gruesome, and difficult images and stories that we see and hear about in movies and through everyday news reports. Where secondary traumatic stress comes in is from the repeated and continuous exposure to these troubling images and stories over a period of time. In effect, there is a cumulative impact on people. This secondary traumatic stress can start to impair your functioning and affect your mental health and emotional well-being.

Symptoms of Secondary Traumatic Stress

Listed b read more

February 16, 2020

Many of you have heard the name Maslow and may have a vague recollection of his Hierarchy of Needs theory and model. It is a concept put forth by a psychologist named Abraham Maslow. He introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and detailed his idea in his subsequent 1954 book Motivation and Personality. His theory states that we have a set of needs that drive our behavior as humans. As the needs at each level are met or achieved, we become driven by the next set of needs in the hierarchy. Those needs at the bottom of the hierarchy are fundamental to survival and then evolve to become more social and psychological in nature as they progress through the model (Maslow, 1943). Let’s go over the different needs in the hierarchy depicted below.

Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Physiological Needs -The first and most primal needs are those at the bottom of the hierarchy, which is imminent to our surviv

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February 7, 2020

Can You Use Will Power to Get Rid of Depression or Addiction?

Will power, or what others would refer to as self-control, is the ability to control and subdue our impulses, emotions, and behaviors. It is one of the critical skills that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. When it comes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, or behavioral compulsions like drinking and gambling, many people believed it was a character weakness of will power. Not even 10 years ago, we routinely heard many clients struggling with great amounts of guilt and shame for even showing up in our offices for help. They assumed they should be able to exert some power of will and simply stop being depressed or stop drinking compulsively. This notion has been rather old fashioned and outdated for some time, yet the number of people who still think this way is shocking. Baby boomers and the generation before them grew up in an era where you “pulled yourself up by your bootstraps” and “let things roll off your back”. Those generations propelled our society forward in many ways with the idea that dedication and hard work could accomplish anything.

Fortunately, research and education of the public at large has helped most people rea

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January 29, 2020

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the process by which one parent uses a set of strategies intended to foster the child’s rejection of the other parent. In time the child comes to fear and hate the one parent and reject any contact with them. This most often occurs during a divorce situation but can happen with intact families too. The prototypical scenario is a bitter ex-wife who turns the children against the father, but the process is not exclusive to mothers. Often the alienating parent is less emotionally stable and is often motivated by anger and revenge.

There are several signs that a child may have been subjected to parental alienation syndrome. These children often deny any positive past experiences with the alienated parent and reject all contact and communication. These kids also have vague or unclear rationales for the intense dislike. Conversely, the other parent is idealized and perceived as perfect, and the child often insists that the rejection of the targeted parent was solely their own idea. When children do interact with the alienated parent, they are cold, rude, disrespectful and appear to have no guilt whatsoever for their harsh treatment toward the targeted parent. Sadly, the rejection often spreads to the alienated parent’s whole s

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January 26, 2020

The Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees alcohol and drug testing for employees that perform work under a few different groups. Probably the largest group is the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), which includes all bus and truck drivers across the entire country who are required to operate with a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) covers all those people working and operating with the railroads. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) covers all airline pilots and air traffic control personnel. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) covers all people working on the gas pipelines or working with transportation of hazardous materials. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) covers all workers involved in mass transit. Finally, the US Coast Guard (USCG) also covers all coast guard members under their drug testing program.

The purpose of the DOT’s alcohol and drug testing program is to ensure the safety of the general public. Because all these federal departments are in charge of operations that could have significant impact of the public and in many cases large numbers of people at one time, the Department of Transportation hold rigorous standards for workers to ensure they are physically fit to

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