763-416-4167Maple Grove, MN
Search by Speciality

What is the Psychological Impact of Social Distancing?

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

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

read more

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

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

read more

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

read more
May 8, 2019

Impact of Social Isolation 

Scientists and researchers are discovering mounting evidence about the negative impact of loneliness and social isolation. One study found that 1 in 5 people suffer from persistent loneliness signifying this is no small problem. Loneliness affects people mentally, emotionally, and even physically.

The medical and physical effects of loneliness can be quite sweeping. Studies have found loneliness can be a contributing factor to heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and can compromise immunity. They also found that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Being lonely and isolated can increase stress hormones, disrupt sleep, impact energy level, and impair cognitive abilities. All this makes people more susceptible to developing depression and anxiety disorders.

People of all ages can struggle with loneliness, however, some age groups are at higher risk. Surprisingly many young people are at risk. Despite having plenty of Facebook friends and Instagram connections, many young people feel lonely. Social media messaging is not a replacement for face to face human contact and/or touch. Having a few close personal friends is probably healthier than hundreds of online social contacts. That

read more
April 10, 2019

With a divorce rate around 50%, there are millions of people looking to form new relationships that have children of their own, or are dating someone with children from a previous relationship or marriage. The statistics show that 16% of children grow up in a blended family, which is has been pretty stable for the past 30 years. Prior to moving in and/or getting married there are some things to be mindful of that can help facilitate greater success down the road.

Get to Know Each Other 

One thing that is crucial is to take the time for everyone to get acquainted and spend time together. There is no need to rush down the wedding isle, especially when blending families. It is upsetting for a child to feel like their new step-parent is a complete stranger. Taking the time to build a relationship with kids can payoff greatly later on. During the stages of getting to know each other and even into marriage, the parenting approach is important. Most conventional wisdom suggests that the biological parent should be the one to perform any discipline that is needed, at least in the early stages. As the step-parent your primary task to build a friendship and relationship with your partner’s children, and taking an authoritarian role often undermines these efforts, especially when it’s met with, “Y

read more
April 1, 2019

Four Pitfalls in Relationship Communication

Noted researcher and expert in marital therapy, Dr. John Gottman, has worked for years with couples who rate their marriages as happy and satisfying, and those who are unhappy and dissatisfied. In his quest to figure out what differentiates these groups, he found that it primarily boiled down to communication. Quality and effective communication is the foundation of any solid relationship.

Dr. Gottman found four communication styles and attributes that were particularly common, and also at the root of derailing conversation and spinning things into an escalation or utter collapse. These are four pitfalls that you want to be aware of in your own communication with your significant other, or anyone for that matter. These may be easy for you to see in others, but it is critical that you watch for them in yourself since you can only control your side of the communication.

CRITICISM  

This can take the form of any statement that suggests that there is something globally wrong with your partner, or is a lasting part of their character. It often starts with “you always

read more
March 13, 2019

The impact of divorce on children is well documented and discouraging, but there is hope and skillful ways to minimize the impact of divorce on children. On the concerning side, here are some startling facts. Adult children of divorced parents experience mental health problems significantly more often than do the adult children of intact families. The college attendance rate is about 60 percent lower among children of divorced parents compared with children of intact families. Divorce has been found to be associated with a higher incidence of depression, withdrawal from friends and family; aggressive, impulsive, or hyperactive behavior; and either withdrawing from participation in the classroom or becoming disruptive. Daughters of divorced parents tend to divorce more frequently than do the sons of divorced parents, with the risk as much as 87 percent higher during the earlier years of marriage.

The facts presented above are not intended to discourage the thousands of men and women, who through no fault of their own are divorced or planning to divorce. Instead, these facts are shared as a reminder to those who are married or are considering getting married that divorce carries with it many potentially harmful and life changing consequences for everyone involved. The impact on children is not to be take

read more
February 25, 2019

One of the great stressors in life is dealing with difficult people. By definition, a difficult person is anyone whose words or actions evoke unwanted and unpleasant feelings in you. Before you start making a laundry list of the people you know, remember that we all have a difficult side. Sometimes despite our best efforts, we are only a couple steps away from becoming a case study in an article like this about difficult people. One thing to remember is that most difficult people are temporarily working from a negative side of their personality and are not consciously trying to be difficult. These people are often swept up in their own emotions and are unaware of their tone of voice, body language, and behaviors towards others.

Knowing the type of difficult person you are dealing with can be helpful in situations and determines the steps you might take. Steam blowers are people who are upset with a particular outcome or situation and are generally not difficult people on a regular basis. Bullies routinely use aggression to get what they want. Pot stirrers enjoy instigating discord and use passive-aggressive methods of expressing their dislikes and upsets. Attention seekers routinely interrupt or may come off as a know it all. Moaners and blamers tend to be negative, find the shortcomings in things and

read more