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Which Personality Traits Are Universal?

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

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 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 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

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

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

October 22, 2019

Many people have endured difficult, painful, and traumatic events or experiences in their lives. For many the mental and emotional fallout is long lasting and dramatically interferes with normal functioning. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a specialized type of psychotherapy that helps people heal from these experiences in a fraction of the time of traditional therapy. Research studies find that 72% of combat vets and people with multiple or repeated trauma no longer met criteria for PTSD after just 6-12 sessions of EMDR. Over the past 25 years there are millions of people who have received successful treatment with EMDR.

EMDR is generally an eight-phase treatment process. During the intake, your clinician gets a thorough history and begins to identify traumatic memories to target. Prior to tackling any trauma, your therapist will help work on teaching new strategies and methods for coping with emotional and mental stress. When ready to tackle some of the traumatic memories, some parts of the session will include eye movements (or some bilateral stimulation). Experts believe this activity is connected to biological mechanisms in the REM sleep that facilitate the processing of disturbing memories and feelings. Many people feel EMDR helps them get “unstuck” so they can heal an

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September 10, 2019

The idea of confidence basically comes down to believing in one’s self, abilities, judgments, and one’s ability to be successful. It also suggests a degree of being humble, for having too much confidence can tend to come off as arrogant and cocky. All people deal with moments and periods where they lack confidence, such as trying something new or where the stakes might be high. For many people however, they feel plagued by regular and routine insecurity, low self-esteem, and self-doubt.

Self-Confidence Benefits

Research finds a lot of benefits that come with having self-confidence. As a group, people who feel self-confident tend to feel a greater sense of happiness in their lives. Those with self-confidence tend to be in better physical health, have better social lives, have greater self-efficacy which is the ability be successful with tasks, coping, and problem solving. Self-confidence also seems to serve as a protective factor against mental health issues and social problems. Long term studies have found that kids with high self-confidence tend to be better in school and have high job satisfaction later in life. In short, self-confidence appears to produce greater self-esteem, freedom from self-doubt, more energy and motivation, greater social friendships and interaction, freedom from fe

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