Words from Emily Stevenson

Emily is a therapist in Hudson, WI. To learn more visit our website by clicking here.

The start of a new year tends to bring the expectation of renewal and change.  Often times our energies and goals are focused only on making meaningful physical changes.

While these are important, it is often more useful to focus on psychological refreshing and renewal by overcoming the significant stress and negative emotions that hinder our ability to focus and enjoy our daily lives.

Reframing our mindsets in the new year to reflect a more positive, productive, and realistic attitude could be the potential mainstay of a happy and healthy new year.  When psychological challenges are overcome, physical changes tend to occur much more naturally.

Words From Linda for the New Year

Linda is a therapist with over 30 years of experience in the mental health field. She works as a therapist in Hudson, WI at Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, LLC. She can be reached at linda@collaborativemn.com or 715-808-7200.

Words from Linda……

Auld Lang Syne. The familiar song poses the question, ”Should old acquaintance be forgot?” I sometimes look at behavior and habits as long loved and stroked friends. These “friends” are points of view, reactions, and feelings that recur again and again.

These habits can feel friendly because they are familiar, comfortable, even when the result is destructive and self-defeating.  Patterns in relationships with others and with yourself  can bring you down, weighing on you with pressure and darkness.

Consider shifting your point of view, losing your old “acquaintances” for this year.  Develop faith in yourself, and a belief that things will work out for you, that change is possible.

It’s tough to be patient and hopeful when all seems lost.  By being still, listening to your heart, you are able to focus on new intentions, new ways of interacting with yourself and others, and the way will seem clear, lighter, and full of promise.  Some people refer to these changes and mental shifts as RESOLUTIONS.

So it’s okay to leave old acquaintances behind if they are indeed, blocking you from the opportunity to live your best life, the life you deserve.

Teens Stress and Self-Harm

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Teenage years are a very volatile and unpredictable time in a child’s life. They are too old to be considered children but still too young and lacking frontal lobe development to be considered adults. Frankly many parents are not fundamentally aware of the inherent distinction between the two stages, nor do they realize that they progression from child to adulthood is gradual. At this stage of life their hormones begin to go haywire as they prepare to cruise into adulthood. Often things such as peer pressure, bullying, disagreements, abuse and just plain ignorance can derail this tenuous progression for teens.

At this stage of the life teens require lots of understanding and patience. Teen counseling can be very helpful to ensure that the chosen path into adulthood is navigated effectively. So many things can derail their progress that it’s a constant battle to make sure your words don’t fall on deaf ears. When teens find themselves in untenable situations sometimes they resort to self-harming.

Self-harming may include taking legal and illegal drugs, cutting themselves or engaging in high-risk activities. Self-harming is a coping mechanism for dealing with pain, disappointment, neglect or abuse. When a teen is self-harming it is very seldom that they will share this information with parents or guardians. This is when you know the situation has become untenable and has really pushed your teen to this extreme. Teens usually cut themselves in places that will not be easily visible like the arm and upper thighs that can be covered by long sleeves and pants.

It is paramount these at-risk teens get counseling before their self-harming behaviors lead to a more serious situation like them seriously or permanently hurting themselves or others. Listening is the most important step when undertaking counseling of teens. Most often teens will continue self-harming when they feel that parents are judgmental and hypocritical towards them or lay blame on the teen for situations beyond their emotional capacity.

Tips for parents include being supportive in a nonjudgmental way and take your teen seriously. Never trivialize the situation although you may become frustrated with your teenager. Teens need to know someone is listening and that they have an outlet to air their frustrations and disappointment.

We recommend seeking counseling anytime self-harm becomes evident to have a professional assess the level of support needed to help your teen overcome their difficulty managing the emotions of the teen years.

Tips for Going Back to School

Getting ready for and going back to school can be a very stressful time. Following the slower pace of summer many struggle to get back into the mind frame to focus on learning and schoolwork.

Here are our favorite tips for parents to help prepare for the transition into a new school year:

  1. Practice Getting Back on a Schedule – For the week or two leading up to the first day of school, work to get you and your kids back on the usual sleep schedule for school.
  2. Take Care of Any Health Needs – If your child needs a physical, check up or needs medication refills make sure to follow up with appropriate health care providers. Try to be proactive in getting help for both physical and mental health needs your child may have going into this next school year.
  3. Get Oriented – If your child is going to start in a new school this year spend some time going to the school with your child to practice finding their classrooms, restrooms, the office or nurse and any other areas they will want to know how to find. The best way to ease anxiety about this first day of school is to help your child feel as prepared as possible.
  4. Be Prepared for the First Day – To decrease the stress of the first day help your child pack their bag (or if you have a teen remind them to do this), have them pick their outfit they day before and make sure to have healthy breakfast and snack foods available for your child.

All of these tips are aimed at helping your child to get off on the right foot for his or her first day of school. Anything you can do to decrease the stress and anxiety of the first day of school are recommended.

Remember, anxiety is often just about the unknowns, so the more of those you can decrease the better off your child will be. We want to send kids into the school year focusing on academics and of course, friendships!

Finding Friendship

Linda is a therapist with over 30 years of experience in the mental health field. She works as a therapist in Hudson, WI at Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, LLC. She can be reached at linda@collaborativemn .com or 715-808-7200

Finding Friendship

Last fall I pulled up stakes and moved 350 miles from southern Wisconsin to Minnesota to be closer to family. A great idea and wonderful adventure for the most part. Most recently it has come to my attention the importance of long lasting friendship, apart from family.

Our friends fulfill such a powerful role in our lives and oftentimes folks say that they actually prefer their friends to their family for a variety of reasons. It seems that we indeed trust our friends with our deepest thoughts and desires, our shortcomings and our failures, and through it all, they remain our champions. They are the people who love us at our worst. We, in turn, do that for them.

Research tells us that we need relationships in our lives to be healthy and whole, that relationships are more important than money, status, or power. Our physical and mental health depends on the quality and depth of our interconnection with others.

Who is there when you flounder?  Who comes in when others go out? These are the true friends in our world.

What does it take to develop friendships?  Trust, time and vulnerability. Be a friend by forsaking your own egos, make sure your cup is empty of “me” to become a valued friend of another and lose the sense of envy and competition.

Yes, so I would say that the hardest part of transporting myself to a new place has been the potential loss of those valued individuals who stepped in, and for whom I happily did the same. No doubt, there are new friends on the horizon who seem to be leaning my way.

At Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, we are here to help you get your relationships back on track, create friendships and repair those that have been lost.

Bullying Among Adults

Bullying has been a highly publicized over recent years. We tend to think of bullies as mean kids or teens, however bullying is also a problem among grown-ups.

Here are some statistics of bullying among adults:

  • A 2011 study at Indiana State University found that 15 percent of college student reported being bullied and 22 percent reported being cyber-bullied.
  • A 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) found that 35 percent of the U.S. workforce reported being bullied at work. That would be an estimated 53.5 million Americans.

Bullying is defined by repetitive, health-harming mistreatment which can take the form of: verbal abuse, offensive conduct or behaviors that are threatening, intimidation, embarrassing/humiliating, and/or work sabotage which gets in the way of a person getting their work done.

Unfortunately, bullying does not always meet legal definitions allowing some victims to continue to be victimized and perpetrators to get away with it.

If you are the victim of bullying as an adult it can be hard to get people to take you seriously. Often bullies are bosses, therefore these can be very difficult situations to navigate. Research indicates most victims of bullying end up leaving their job either to a new one or due to being fired.

The best advice available is to try to not get emotional and to try not to be too passive. Being assertive can sometimes exacerbate bullying, however you do want to make it clear to the bully that you are not going to tolerate being treated that way. If you have an HR at your company, they may also be able to help support you in dealing with the situation. You may also want to look at other options or jobs available to you.

Bullying has been shown to be related to an increase in anxiety and/or depression due to the stress it places on the person. You may want to get help from your doctor or a counselor to learn ways to deal with your symptoms. Counseling may also be able to provide tools to help you learn to navigate bullying.

Some information adapted from Counseling Today March 2013.

Solid Gold by Linda Butler

Solid gold.  These days we frequently hear advertisements luring us to sell the “old gold” we having lying around the house.  How do we know if it’s real?  If it’s pure through and through?

Linda is a therapist with over 30 years of experience in the mental health field. She works as a therapist in Hudson, WI at Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, LLC. She can be reached at linda@collaborativemn.com or 715-808-7200.

That got me to thinking about congruence within ourselves.  Are we pure gold through and through?  It has to do with values.  Not WHAT you value, but what DO you value.  By this I mean living and behaving according to our values.  We all know and admire folks like this.  They do what they say and they believe what they do.

In counseling others, I encourage clients to think about this.  Are you living and behaving according to your values?  When you do, peace will be yours and so will respect.  It’s a challenge to really sit back and take our own inventory.  Much easier to take the inventory of others, but then change doesn’t really occur.

Counseling is a way to gently guide you to your true golden self.

Searching for Happiness by Linda Butler

So happy! That’s what one of my Facebook friends posted one day. I couldn’t help but wonder…okay, what? She never elaborated.

Linda is a therapist with over 30 years of experience in the mental health field. She works as a therapist in Hudson, WI at Collaborative Counseling & Psychology, LLC. She can be reached at linda@collaborativemn.com or 715-808-7200.

Have you ever had moments of complete happiness? I have. It is so elusive, fleeting and simple. Just as quickly, our mood can change, the happiness gone.

It seems that oftentimes it isn’t connected to an event. That would be just too simple. But instead it’s a feeling of peace, contentment, and the joy of being alive.

Clients are asked to state their counseling goals in writing when entering therapy. Just to be happy, is frequently a goal. It’s my job to operationally define that for them, clarify their expectations for themselves, for others and for the universe. Sometimes it’s figuring out what is in our control and what isn’t, how to take better care of ourselves, or how to recover from a devastating experience. Some of us have chronic conditions and problems that make it hard to be optimistic about life.

In “The Happiness Project” Gretchen Rubin reports that current research shows that “genetics account for 50 percent of the tendency toward happiness; life circumstances such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation and religious affiliation account for 10-20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.”

As a therapist, this research reinforces for me the idea that people can boost their own happiness just by how they think about themselves and their life. Counseling is an opportunity for guidance and support through those critical decisions that determine your experience in life.

So the comment “So happy!” may have more to do with my friend’s perception of reality than an actual event…might be worth thinking about!

10 Ways to Relax

Everyone gets overwhelmed and stressed sometimes. A lot of people struggle to manage stress in life. It is important to have balance in your life, so here are some ideas to consider trying to help reduce your stress by taking the time to relax.

Here are 10 easy ways to practice relaxation skills:

  1. Read a book or magazine. Reading can help take us out of our present worries and into a new frame of mind.
  2. Exercise. Any type of exercise can help to burn of stress – run, walk, take a yoga class or lift weights.
  3. Breathe. Take a moment to just focus on your breath. Try to breathe in counting your inhale and breathe out counting the exhale. Try to exhale for twice as long as you breathe in. For example, breathe in, two three; breathe out, two, three, four, five, six.
  4. Hang out with a friend. Do something fun. Take time to play!
  5. Have a cup of tea or go out for your favorite coffee drink. Then enjoy drinking it while being in the moment.
  6. Do whatever you may be doing one-mindfully. One mindfully is when you focus all of your attention on whatever it is you are doing, if your mind wanders, you notice the thought and then go back to whatever you were focusing on. You can do this while doing homework, while cleaning, while doing the dishes or while moving your body.
  7. Do a craft or hobby that you enjoy. Whatever you enjoy – take time to do what you love most!
  8. Take a nap. You may be amazed what taking a 15-20 minutes snooze can do to your mood.
  9. Take a bath or hot shower. Try doing it one mindfully (see #6).
  10. Change your mindset. Focus on thinking about all of the good things in your life. If you feel grouchy, take time to make a list of all the good in your life.

Top Career – Marriage and Family Therapy

Fox Business News lists Marriage and Family Therapy as one of the top 8 best careers. Between now and 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates growth around 41% for marriage and family therapists.

In the past decade or so insurance companies have become more willing to reimburse for counseling services. Therapy services have also become more empirically supported in the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more.

Working as a Marriage and Family Therapist requires you to obtain a masters degree and to become licensed by the state you practice in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median annual salary at $49,270.

Working as a Marriage and Family Therapist can be very rewarding work and there are several different ways to work in this role. Some options include: private practice, community based mental health, managed care and more.

If you are interested in considering a career as a therapist or counselor, reach out to professionals doing that work in your area to learn more about the opportunities available in this growing field.