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August 8, 2020

Living life, paying bills, raising kids, navigating work issues, and so much more are the things that make our lives challenging and stressful. When faced with all this, it becomes clear why we need a break from time to time. Taking time to indulge our hobbies or activities to reduce our stress is wonderful, but also requires a chunk of time that we may only be able to carve out once a day or even less. The drudgery of life would become virtually unbearable if we didn’t have some quick fixes along the way. One of the best and easiest is laughter. Our amazing brains have evolved to see and appreciate all the ironies, foibles, and follies that make us human. Whether it is recognizing the absurd, appreciating the silly, or enjoying the hyperbole; these are the things that bring smiles to our faces and cause us to expel joyous laughter. It’s important that we do not take ourselves or life too seriously. We need only to watch a few old episodes of Star Trek and watch Mr. Spock to see how sterile, bland, and joyless life is when we are too pragmatic and logical. Laughter is part of what brings color and brightness to our life experiences. Laughter also has countless positive health benefits. Laughter has been found to boost our immune system, relax muscles, improve circulation, and prevent heart disease. Laughter is also great for our mental health in that it can reduce anxiety, re read more

July 26, 2020

Don’t we all want to be in charge?

Everyone wants to feel like they have control over things in their life. Having some power and control helps us accomplish tasks and orchestrate things in our life the way we want or need. Even small children want power to be able to control their environment suggesting this is an innate human desire and need. Not everyone wields power and control very fairly or effectively; children being a good case in point. When it comes to relationships most people want a sense of power and control just like they do over other things in their life. In healthy and mature relationships people are able to discuss and negotiate the sharing of power and control so that there is a mutual meeting of needs. Unfortunately, many people are not real good at navigating this balancing act. Additionally, a lot of people are not even consciously aware that some of their actions and words are driven by their unconscious need for power and control. Needless to say, this can create issues, conflicts, arguments, or even the demise of relationships.

When power and control turn abusive

In extreme situations some relationships become abusive. For a long time, people in physically abusive relationships, and those people outside, have been able to see that the person who becomes abusive is driven by an intense need for power and need to control things and peo read more

July 24, 2020

Fulfilling relationships are an important component of individual happiness. This is true whether it applies to professional, platonic, or romantic relationships. read more

Posted in Relationships by Brian Swanson
July 18, 2020

In part one of our article on friendships, we discussed a number of surprising benefits that come with having friends and how many friends you actually need. In part two we will now discuss how to best choose your friends, and how to nurture and maintain friendships.

Choosing and Meeting Friends

If your friendships and social network is not quite up to your standards and expectations, then this section can help guide you on how to go about meeting potential friends and increasing your support system. The reality is that many friendships are often selected in the same way that mates are selected. There is an assortative process that tends to yield the selection of friends or mates that are similar to ourselves on a number of attributes and characteristics such as personality, beliefs, background, and upbringing, or even appearance. Whether you stick with what you are familiar with or reach for greater diversity, you still need to find potential friends somewhere. Many people feel there are at a loss for where to begin looking, but perhaps you needn’t look too far. Often there are potential people that may have been overlooked in your existing social circles. These may be casual acquaintances or even friends of friends. Think about people you may have met even only briefly that perhaps left you with a positive impression. Similarly, you might consider people you encoun read more

July 11, 2020

A study done by Harvard analyzed dozens of variables over a long-term study of people of all ages to determine which variables have the greatest impact on people’s overall happiness. As it turns out, the number one variable that creates the most happiness in people’s lives are friendships. If you are looking for more happiness in your life, a great investment will be in building strong and lasting friendships. In this two part article, we are going to discuss a number of surprising benefits that come with having friends and how many friends you actually need. In part two we will discuss how to best choose your friends, and how to nurture and maintain friendships.

Benefits of Friendships

Human beings are a naturally social species which comes with all sorts of benefits. Friendships help prevent loneliness, create a sense of belonging and help with our sense of identity, self-worth, and friends often function as a source of support. We use them as sounding boards to vent about stressors, bounce around ideas and brainstorm solutions, and possibly help you tackle tasks and projects. One of the great benefits of friends is having people to hang out with, have fun with, joke, laugh, and build memories with. Our friends make us smile and accept us for who we are and allow us to be ourselves. Good friends help us build confidence, give our lives purpose, and provide compan read more

July 5, 2020

The transition to school for many children is quite a challenging endeavor. They are faced with the mental, emotional, and social challenges of learning to interact appropriately with peers, learn good boundaries, deal with emotional frustrations, and navigate the process of making friends. Ironically, these trials and tribulations are all secondary to the main focus in school, which are the cognitive and educational tasks of learning. The curriculum is designed sequentially and incrementally to be in line with the natural developmental milestones that most children are achieving at any given age. The material is challenging and intended to help with propelling a child forward through their development. For upwards of 7 million students, or roughly 14% of kids, their learning is impacted by any number of challenges that create the need for special education services, and nearly one-third of these students are struggling with a specific learning disability.

What are Specific Learning Disabilities?

The Colorado Department of Education defines it this way: Specific Learning Disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as read more

June 27, 2020

Part Three: Proactive Tools for Anxiety

In the last two articles, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety and some of the reactive tools that we can employ to mitigate the escalation of anxiety at a physiological level and keep that anxiety from building or culminating into a full-blown panic attack. In this article, we are going to discuss how we go about keeping the anxiety from ever manifesting in the first place.

Principles of Proactive Tools

The primary goal with proactive tools is to intervene at the source of the anxiety where it is originating. As we alluded to in the previous articles about anxiety, most anxiety is originating at the cognitive level. By this, we mean, that it starts with our thinking, perceptions, and interpretations. When we arrive at conclusions that are anxiety-provoking interpretations, this triggers the emotions of anxiety, and from there activates a physiological response and drives our behaviors. When we teach people how to control and check their thinking and conclusions, they end up of having far less anxiety over time.

The Brain is a Noisy Place

Most people will agree that our minds are filled with a running stream of consciousness that some of us refer to as our inner dialogue. Most people feel like they are simply along for the ride when it comes to their thinking. The brain just read more

June 21, 2020

In the last article, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. As anxiety triggers the release of stress hormones into our bloodstream the body is switching from a state of relaxation to a state of arousal. For many people, this creates a rapid snowball effect that causes anxiety to spike quickly in the moment.

Principles of Reactive Tools

The primary goal with reactive tools is to try to reduce anxiety in the moment and prevent the cascading snowball effect and keep anxiety from building or triggering a full-blown panic attack. Unfortunately, we cannot control much in the physiological chain reaction in order to keep our body in a state of relaxation. The main objective of reactive tools is to try to get our body back into a state of relaxation. With some conscious effort, there are a couple of things we can control to try to force the body back to a relaxed state.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When we feel stressed and anxious, physical tension builds in your chest which causes chest muscles to contract. This causes breathing to become short, shallow, and choppy. This general lack of oxygen, in turn, causes your veins and arteries to constrict and the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood flow. All this facilitates increased arousal. For the most part, our breathing operates unconsciously. Fortunately, with a little conscious read more

June 12, 2020

Anxiety: A Three-Part Series

Part One: The Physiological Chain Reaction  

 

Treating Anxiety in Therapy

Many people elect to treat their anxiety with anti-depressants and/or benzodiazepines such as Xanax when they are dealing with panic attacks. These can be very effective for many people. That said, we get an equal number of people who would prefer to treat their anxiety without medications or treat their anxiety with counseling in addition to medication. When treating anxiety in counseling there are two main ways to treat it therapeutically. There are reactive tools and proactive tools. Reactive tools are utilized when the anxiety flares up and is actively going on. The goal is to reduce the intensity of the anxiety and try to get it to dissipate. These are useful tools to have and can keep anxiety from escalating to the point of panic attacks for many people. As a precursor to discussing the reactive and proactive tools of anxiety, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. In the next two articles, we will spend time talking about reactive tools that help mitigate anxiety and proactive tools, which are designed to keep anxiety from manifesting in the first place.

The Mechanics and Physiolo read more

June 7, 2020

ADHD is a complex issue to diagnose due to the number of symptoms that are shared by ADHD and other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, behavioral disorders, and substance abuse issues. read more