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What is Gaslighting?

July 4, 2021

What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting at its essence is an attempt by one person to gain control over another person through mental and emotional manipulation. The primary mechanism of manipulation is the deliberate effort to supply false information that leads the victim to question what they know to be true. Victims often end up doubting their memory, perception, and interpretations. The person gaslighting will deny facts, experiences, or feelings. The end goal is intended to create increasing control and less resistance from the victim.

How it Begins

Often these relationships can start out quite well. A perpetrator may flatter and praise their victim as well as make significant disclosures rather quickly in an effort to establish trust quickly. Although it can happen in any type of relationship, it is most common in romantic relationships. These behaviors often occur throughout the relationship but are also especially prominent when attempting to assert a particular agenda. Over time the perpetrator can gain increasing control over their victims mentally, emotionally, physically, and even financially. This form of manipulation is abusive because it is intended to control another. Tactics and Profile of a Gaslighter Those people who employ gaslighting strategies and tactics often have personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder read more

February 27, 2021

Most parents struggle with getting their children to comply with directions, get chores done, and simply being cooperative. There is a technique called a token economy system that has been around for a very long time and works quite well with most children. It is based on positive reinforcement and a reward system so that if you are a parent who is reluctant to punish and give consequences, this tool should work wonders.

Token Economy System

A token economy system can work with children as young as two and still be effective with kids up to 13-14 years old depending on their maturity level. The principle is fairly simple. The parents select 2-5 targeted behaviors that they would like to see improve, for example putting dishes in the dishwasher or not hitting a sibling. With young children (2-8 years old) we recommend getting a notebook and listing the goals (dishes and not hitting) at the top. Get a supply of various stickers from any craft store; preferably ones your child thinks are cool. Then sit your child down and let them know that you have created a new system where they have a chance to earn stic read more

January 3, 2021

Divorce Facts and Findings

Choosing to get a divorce is one of the biggest and most personal decisions a person can make. It’s a decision that has sweeping implications for everyone involved. It is almost always an upsetting event that leaves people feeling great disappointment and grieving the loss of hopes and dreams. Compounding these losses are people left trying to adjust and cope with the stressors that affect us legally, financially, emotionally, socially, as a parent, all the way down to logistically in terms of living space. For many this is perceived as the lesser of two evils as relationships have become too acrimonious, painful, and toxic. Most Americans believe that it is better to get a divorce than be in an unhappy and unproductive marriage. Overall, the divorce rate is declining, having gone from 50% of all marriages ending in divorce to only 39% recently. Millennials between the ages of 25-39, now comprise 60% of all divorces. Although age 30 is still the average age of divorce, the divorce rate in people over 50 has doubled since 1990 likely giving way to changes in former conservative beliefs in an era that has become more accepting of divorce. Next, let us look at the primary factors that cause divorce.

Causes of Divorce

There are countless reasons and cau read more

November 14, 2020

The experience of loss is an unfortunate reality that none of us can escape during our time here. Dealing with losses is one of the more difficult stressors that we all face at various times in our lives. Having an understanding of the process and ways to navigate this process can make it more tolerable. Grief and loss are not specific to the people we care about, nor does it mean the death of someone. Although someone passing away may be the most commonly associated with grief and loss, it also pertains to the break up of a relationship, loss of a job, end of a marriage, loss of abilities, loss of dreams, or treasured object to name just a few. The common denominator with loss is the attachment and strong feelings we possess about whatever it is we lost. Whether its familiarity, nostalgia, compassion, concern, or love, it is these feelings that bring about pain and sadness when we experience a loss.

Stages of Grief

Many people are familiar with the stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. Many people experience these stages and it can be helpful to be familiar with them as it allows us to know what to anticipate and expect when dealing with grief and loss. It should be noted that not everyone goes through all of these stages and they often do not occur in a linear fashion. Often, we see people cycle through anger and sadness repeat read more

September 19, 2020

In the 1950s two notable pieces of research, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, worked together to study babies, attachment, and separation. They worked with countless parents and caregivers and their infant children. They studied the bond between parent and child but were most fascinated by the child’s bond, or attachment, to the parent. This emotional bond also represents the manner and way in which the infant gets its needs met from the parent. What is most interesting about their studies is the use of separation. In the studies, the infant was left alone briefly and they monitored both the reaction of the infant when the parent left, but also the reaction when the parent returned. This was the most telling indicator of the type of attachment style the infant had with its caregiver. They concluded there are 4 main attachments styles that can develop out of these early interactions. In fact, much of their research suggested that the particular type of attachment was pretty well-formed by the end of the first year of life and was quite enduring thereafter and impact our relationships as adults. Let take a look at the four attachment styles.

Secure Attachment

Nearly 55-60% of children have a secure attachment with their parents. These children are eager to see their parents, are readily comforted by the parent and tend to play and interact regularly with their parents. read more

September 6, 2020

Although anger is a normal human emotion, for many people is causes problems in their lives and relationships. Some people end up in legal trouble, others find themselves losing jobs, friendships, or romantic relationships. When anger is occurring with regular frequency and resulting in consequences, it is time to do something about it. Anger issues left unaddressed do not get better on their own. It is wise to get evaluated by a psychologist or counselor to see if your anger issues may be stemming from other issues such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse problems. In those instances, dealing with the underlying issue often resolves the anger problems. For others, anger may be a long-standing issue that is not new or driven by other problems.

Group Counseling

We find that some people believe their anger is justified and are generally not remorseful. Lacking insight into the impact of their anger on others and themselves, these people are often not motivated to get help on their own. In many cases, it may be the court system that is mandating anger counseling. Not unlike the denial experienced by many people with addictions, the first step in treatment is helping them break through their own denial and realize they have a problem. For people not seeing their anger as a problem, group counselin read more

August 22, 2020

Since the beginning of the field of psychology, researchers have been studying people and trying to understand personality. There have been numerous theories proposed over the years and a fair amount of debate. Most studies agree that there are the “Big 5” personality traits proposed by Costa and McCrae. McCrae went so far as to study over 50 different cultures and discovered that these five personality traits are universal.

Big 5 Personality Traits

The Big 5 personality traits are: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. It is important to note that all these traits fall on a range between two extremes with most people being somewhere in the middle but leaning more one direction than the other. For instance, one trait most of us are familiar with is the spectrum of introversion to extroversion. Rarely are people at the extremes of either end, but most people lean more towards being introverted or extroverted. With each of the Big 5 personality traits people tend to be high or low on a trait. People who are high on the openness trait tend to be open to trying new things, are creative, imaginative, and tackle challenges. People low on openness dislike change, do not enjoy new things, resist new ideas, and dislike abstract and theoretical. For the personality trait conscientiousness people who are high on this trait tend to be thoug read more

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