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Dr. Justin T. Coulter

January 17, 2021

What is Recreational Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has been around for some time and is legal in most states with a valid medical diagnosis such as glaucoma, epilepsy, cancer, and, just recently in Minnesota, PTSD. Medical marijuana is closely regulated, prescribed by a physician, and used to alleviate symptoms of a medical condition. Recreational marijuana, on the other hand, is pot used by regular citizens without a medical reason. Recreational marijuana typically has a higher THC content than medicinal varieties and produces a euphoric high that medical varieties typically do not.

How Many States Permit it?

There are currently 11 states (CA, WA, OR, NV, IL, MI, ME, MA, CO, VT, AK) and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana. For many states, recreational marijuana has become a tax revenue boon. For instance, in 2018 the state of Colorado sold roughly $1.2 billon in recreational marijuana. This produced around $270 million dollars in tax revenue for the state, over 5X the tax revenue of the $45 million the stated collected on alcohol tax. With sales producing this sort of revenue, it may only be a matter of time before the other states follow suit with legalizing recreational marijuana.

Are People in Favor of Legalization?

It seems attitudes toward marijuana and its legalization have been changing over the last decade. Nea 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 causes for divorce that run the spectrum, however, we will discuss the most common caus read more

December 13, 2020

As an adult, we all grew up experiencing parenting from our caregivers. Undoubtedly, you have your own opinions about the aspects of the parenting you received and which parts were good and which parts were less than desirable. Many of us decide to go on and have children of our own and find ourselves faced with the daunting task of now being in the parenting role. Most of us yearn to do as good or better than what we received as children but realize we may only have a single frame of reference with which to draw upon. In this article, we will discuss the different parenting styles that exist, what they look like, and the potential impact on the child. In the 1960’s an imminent psychologist Diana Baumrind through years of research delineated three distinct parenting styles. In 1983 Maccoby and Martin expanding Baumrind model to include a fourth parenting style. Overarching these different parenting styles are two stylistic attributes that are quite important to discuss. The first is demandingness or discipline. This refers to a spectrum upon which the parent falls in terms of the degree to which they control their child’s behavior and expect them to behave maturely. The other stylistic attribute is responsiveness which refers to the extent to which a parent is nurturing and accepting of a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Some feel it encompasses the degree of lo read more

November 28, 2020

What is Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior (SIB) is self-harm, self-mutilation, or the deliberate act of causing pain or injury to your own body. Self-injurious behavior usually takes the form of cutting or burning, but can include scratching headbanging, or any other form of injury.

Who does Self-Injury?

Self-injurious behavior can occur at any age and any demographic; however, it is most common in teenagers and young adults. One recent study found that 6-14% of adolescent boys and 17-30% of adolescent girls engage in self-injury at some point. Most adults who engage in self-injury either have mental health issues or a history of self-injurious behavior.

Why People Injure Themselves?

Contrary to common perception, self-injurious behavior is rarely about suicidal ideation or intentions. Interestingly, it is typically about pent up and intense emotions that the person is struggling to deal with. Many people stumble upon this strategy to escape and avoid difficult emotions. When people engage in self-injury, pain receptors are activated and the brain goes into emergency mode to identify and alleviate the source of pain and injury. In the process, the brain prioritizes the physical pain from the self-injury and pushes all the emotions to the side in order to deal with the more immediate crisis at hand – the pain. In short, the infliction of physical 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

November 1, 2020

In the last article, we talked about the incredible impact and effect that suicide has on individuals, families, and the community. In this article we are going to talk about how to prevent suicide. With proper knowledge and awareness, there are things we can do to intervene and hopefully prevent unnecessary losses.

Predisposed Temperament

The greatest triad of factors that account for most suicides are a person’s predisposed temperament and genetic vulnerabilities, severe psychiatric illness, and acute psychological distress. A predisposed temperament can include things such as an impulsive nature, a tendency to be emotionally volatile and reactive, and genetic vulnerabilities can include a tendency to have mental health issues or even a family history of suicide. By severe psychiatric illness we are referring to severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. If one or more of these are going on, a person is it high risk for suicide. Acute psychological distress are often environmental factors such as loss of a job, divorce, or breakup of a relationship to name just a few. Whether it is yourself or a loved one, being alert and on the lookout for this perfect storm can let you know when you need to be aware and possibly intervene. Temperament may or may not change over time as people learn better-coping skills, and stressors are often unpred read more

October 17, 2020

Suicide is for many an uncomfortable and taboo subject matter, which makes it no less of a problem around the world. Generally, happy people marvel at how someone could reach such a place of despair as to end their own life. As with any subject matter, the more we know about it, the greater our understanding and development of interventions can be. Knowledge is power. In this article, we will outline some of the grim facts about suicide and discuss some of the underlying causes and sources. In the next article, we will spend time talking about suicide prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines suicide as “a suicidal act with a fatal outcome”. Suicide can be conceptualized on a spectrum of thoughts and behaviors. At one end can be risk-taking behavior, extending across varying degrees of ideation and thought, all the way over to suicide attempts and actual suicide. Suicidal thoughts cut across nearly all age groups, races, demographics, and orientations. In fact, it seems only pregnant women are more protected from suicidality, relative to all other groups. Even our youth are not protected. In a 1997 Youth Risk Surveillance Survey of 16,000 nineth to twelfth graders, 50% of New York high school students report that had “thought about killing themselves.” Suicide is in fact the third leading cause of death in the young. Overall, about 48,000 Americans commit read more

October 3, 2020

There are a lot of people who complain that their motivation and ambition are low or lacking. Some people have chronically low motivation, where other are experiencing a sudden drop in drive. In this article we will talk about potential causes and fixes for both.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation is the desire to take action toward a goal. This drive to achieve and accomplish can be derived internally or externally. External reasons may include trying to gain someone’s approval, acceptance, or validation. Internally oriented ambition is generally more about living up to one’s own standards and expectations. Long term it is better to have internal motivation than external. Doing things for yourself tends to have more staying power than doing things for someone else. If you become less interested in the person who you are doing things for, or you find yourself angry or developing resentments toward that person, motivation can drop off in a hurry. Trying to make goals and outcomes internally oriented can be a decision you make and set youR mind to. It may require reminding yourself of it periodically though. There are a number of variables that can cause motivation to falter and decline. Let’s examine a few of them that are relevant to the chronically unmotivated. Lacking confidence can really squelch your drive to tackle a goal. If you don’t feel confident and that 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 counseling is often recommended. Often a group of peers can have a tremendous i read more