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May 23, 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) 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 on 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 perform their duties and ensure that they are not impaired on the job. All worker read more

May 16, 2020

Even during the best of times life is full of stressors and challenges. It is difficult dealing with the competing demands of work, finances, relationships, kids, parents, and trying to do a little something for yourself. Nearly 20% of American’s will be faced with a clinical depression or anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives. It may be triggered by a major life stressor such as moving, a divorce, loss of a loved one, or job loss. For others it is just the cumulative impact of unrelenting stressors that wear any person down. At some point in our lives most of us have been faced with the need for some additional support, guidance, and counsel. Historically, this has been readily available and at our disposal with local psychologists and psychiatrists. In addition to the normal stressors of everyday life, we have all had our lives turned upside down by this global pandemic. Since the last pandemic occurred over 100 years ago, none of us has any frame of reference or experience to draw upon in coping with this. While trying to juggle all the normal stressors, we have all been scrambling to adjust and cope with trying to ensure our basic safety and physical wellbeing. The weeks are dragging on and for most of us our mental and emotional reserves are running low. Where many of us could use the help of a good therapist and psychiatrist, we may be unsure about the accessibili read more

May 9, 2020

In the fight against COVID-19 and its rapid spread, the human race is going to great lengths to ensure the safety and survival of ourselves and the ones we love. It seems that until we have an effective treatment or eventual vaccine, the best precaution and tool we have at our disposal is social distancing. Washing our hand and keeping a social distance is good common sense and pretty easy to implement in the name of safety. Because these measures are pretty simplistic, most of us have been dutifully complying. The worst we get from all the handwashing is some dry skin, which can be remedied with lotion. Social distancing, on the other hand, maybe having a negative cumulative impact that we are unaware of. Our species has evolved over a couple hundred thousand years to be a highly cooperative and social creature just like our primate cousins. We have an innate and hard-wired need to be with each other and engage in physical touch. An interesting experiment by Harlow done in 1965 drives this point home (Harlow, 1965). In the study, a rhesus monkey baby was presented with the choice of two artificial surrogate mothers in its cage. The first was a wire monkey mother that had a bottle that would supply milk to the baby. The other surrogate mother provided no nourishment but was designed to be soft and comfortable having been made from terry cloth. Researchers were amazed that the b read more

May 2, 2020

For the first time in our lives, our society is faced with very real danger and threat. As we struggle to figure out how to cope and survive a worldwide pandemic, many people are experiencing increased anxiety. They find themselves worrying, ruminating, and are preoccupied with news and updates about COVID-19. Compounding their anxiety is a dramatic disruption to our everyday lives. Our routines and the structure we are accustomed to has been turned upside down and most of us are floundering and scrambling to keep up and create some sense of normalcy in our lives.

What is Coronavirus Anxiety?

Anxiety is a very normal emotion and reaction to a perceived threat and unknown situation. Often the fear of the unknown will amplify our anxiety. Many people are prone to catastrophic thinking, meaning their thinking often goes to the work case scenario. With this thinking, anxiety can increase tenfold. Although this virus poses a real threat to people’s wellbeing, it is important to try to keep our thinking grounded so we are not pouring gas on a fire. Often in the course of therapy when dealing with anxiety in clients, we discover that much of their anxiety stems from irrational and unfound fears and conclusions. In this situation, the dangers are real and are not irrational inventions of our thinking or distorted interpretations. Anxiety for one’s physical health and finan read more

April 25, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has affected life as we all know it. The entire world is hunkering down to do their best to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19. As a result of these extreme measures, everyone’s world and sense of normalcy has evaporated. Everyone is struggling to stay informed, engage in safe practices, figures out logistics of work and schedules, remain calm, and still try to be a good parent. Parenting is a difficult job under the best of circumstances, with these added stressors many parents are finding themselves with very little fuel left in the tank for parenting demands. Children and adolescents, just like adults, thrive on routine and schedules. Just as our lives have been upended, so has our kids. They are struggling to adapt as best they can, and some are doing it with more grace than others. Many parents are finding that they are at a loss for words when it comes to trying to explain this crisis to their children. It might not be quite as bad as talking to your kids about sex and drugs, but it is not much easier. What follows are some tips and suggestions for handling and talking to your kids about the COVID crisis.

  • Normalize Feelings: It’s important to have our feelings validated by others. We all seek this out and it holds true for your children as well. Regardless of age, your children need to hear that it is normal and

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April 18, 2020

For decades we have heard about the hardships and tragedies around the globe from the relative safety and calm of our own personal lives. For the first time ever all of humankind is faced with a very real and serious threat all at one time. The whole world is hunkering down in an effort to escape this coronavirus. We are faced with a whole new stress that threatens our physical wellbeing and that of the people we love. Although humans are adaptable as we have all demonstrated over the last several weeks, it is not without its toll. We are all wrestling with the stress and worry about contracting this virus and have made great changes to our lifestyles to keep ourselves healthy. As a social creature keeping our distance from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family limits the comfort and support we naturally derive from being with each other. We are isolating and alienating ourselves from the people we very much want to be with for our own mental and emotional needs. In short, we are struggling to cope with the possibility of contracting the coronavirus and at the same time trying to cope with the lack of connection and support we would usually seek to cope with this type of stressful situation. On top of feeling scared and lonely most of us have been forced to deal with a lot of change on top of the stress of isolation. Our children are no longer going to school or daycar read more

April 11, 2020

In the last article, we talked about what burn out is, the signs and symptoms of burn out, and some of the common causes of burn out. Now you can find out if you have burn out and we will discuss what to do about it.

Burn Out Quiz

Read through the following questions and ask yourself if you would agree with the statement most days over the past month.

  1. I feel that my support is lacking and I don’t have people I can talk to.
  2. I feel misunderstood and unappreciated.
  3. I have negative thoughts about my relationship and/or job.
  4. I wake up tired even when I go to bed early.
  5. I don’t have enough time to plan or get things done.
  6. I feel like I have more tasks, chores, and jobs to do than there is time to do them.
  7. I often feel frustrated with my job, coworkers, or the people in my life.
  8. I am easily irritated by things that I know should not bother me that much.
  9. I find myself being unsympathetic toward others.
  10. I feel run down and lacking energy physically and/or emotionally.
  11. I dread what lies ahead today or tomorrow.
  12. I feel less productive or accomplished than I should.
  13. I feel I am in the wrong job or career.
  14. It seems like small tasks take more energy than I can afford.
  15. My efficiency is down and things seem to take longer to do than they did in the

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April 4, 2020

What is Burn Out?

Burn out is no longer a trendy descriptor for how you might feel, it has now been classified as a legitimate condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). Burn out is categorically different than the usual stress that we all feel. Stress produces feelings of frustration and anxiety but is often short-lived and tied to a specific event or circumstance that resolves in a short period of time. Burn out, on the other hand, is a longer-term state of mental, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion. This often evolves from prolonged or repeated stressors. People are often left feeling overwhelmed and struggle to meet life’s demands and can develop a negative or cynical outlook toward their stressors. There are three types of burn out:

  • Organizational Burn Out: This occurs when there is a mismatch between the person and their job or work environment. For some people, this could be hours that are too long, work that is monotonous, or work that is not aligned with your sense of purpose.
  • Interpersonal Burn Out: This can evolve from difficult relationships at work, with family, or a romantic partner. Burn out could manifest from dealing with a difficult coworker, a strained and dysfunctional marriage, unhealthy family relations, or even the taxing impact of caring for others such as elderly parents, oft

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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