Lake Country Cottage Members would like to thank Dave and Sandy Munson of Walker for their generous donation of a beautiful piano. Now housed in it’s new home in the Cottage living room, the piano will not only bring enjoyment to those practicing, learning and relearning to play, but will deliver a sense of festivity and community to all who hear it. Thank you!
The Garage Sale
The second annual Member garage sale was a huge success! Members of the Lake Country Cottage had a great time sorting, pricing and laughing together…and it paid off. In two days, they raised over $750 for outings and group activities that promote good mental health! Members decide how to spend the 100% of the funds. Last year’s proceeds went to fund many activities, such as Friday barbeques (affectionately known as “Grill Baby Grill!”), trips to Itasca State Park, and an occasional pizza party. To read or download a monthly events calendar for the Cottage, visit our Forms Page.
We’re continuing to look for ideas for the floor of the Pergola. We’ve been doing some head scratching and concluded that we’ll likely install some flagstone pavers. In the meantime, it’s a nice comfortable space tucked into the trees. Ideas on flooring are welcome. We’re also working on transplanting grape vines, that we hope will eventually cover the upper portion and bring even more shade and comfort to the environment.
All Cottage Members and ARMHS recipients are invited to the 8th Annual Lake Country Associates Community Programs’ Picnic. The picnic will be from 11-1 on Wednesday, August 29th at Heartland Park in Park Rapids. For more information about the picnic, call Lake Country Associates at 218-366-9229.
In the previous three posts, we talked about how our emotions can become too “big”, even overwhelming, especially when we focus on the negative ones. To help ourselves we can use distraction as a coping skill. Distraction is something we are all familiar with in some form or another. Please read the previous posts discussing distraction strategies by clicking here: 1st post, 2nd post, and 3rd post. This will be the last week that we discuss distraction as a strategy. As you read, I hope you recognize or understand the importance of using positive coping skills for your mental health.
When using distraction as a coping skill, the goal is not to be distracted from your life. That is not what I am recommending for you. There are so many things that we want to be actively aware of in life and they are important. However, we all need mental breaks. We all have times when something happens and our life feels hectic and our emotions flare. Sometimes it is words someone has said, see week one for an example of feeling anxious because of responding emotionally to a perceived verbal threat. Sometimes something happens physically, like almost getting hit by a car, and our emotions understandably escalate. Sometimes it’s something that reminds us of a negative event or a traumatic occurrence that happened in the past. In each of these situations we can and should use distraction to remove ourselves from the stress and drama of the moment but we also need to move forward.
Moving forward doesn’t mean that we drop the problems and it doesn’t mean we avoid or ignore what is happening with our emotions. We want to deal with our problems, but not emotionally. If we’re too angry, anxious, depressed, disrespected, guilty, shamed, giddy, tired, rejected, humiliated, abandoned, grieving…the list goes on, we need to deal with those feelings so we can communicate to others in a way that they will listen where we can be heard and we can hear them. We will all have big emotions at times, let’s deal with them so we can then solve the problem if there is one and get back into our lives.
We need to be aware of those times where we are stuck. When we get an emotional response that is not in our best interest, it is our responsibility to calm ourselves back down to a level where we can carry on. The importance of self soothing is huge. Distraction is an important tool but only for a limited amount of time. Remember the “20 minute” rule where it only takes 20 minutes for your brain to de-escalate.
Make a List
There are so many activities that can draw our attention away from our negative emotional state. What are some that you use personally to help you to focus? Write down ones from the list below that you want to try, ones you already know, and any you find along the way. Listed are the distraction skills that come to mind but perhaps the list can spark some additional ideas for you or get you thinking about what you like to do. Have the list handy to look at when your emotions have escalated. Then you can help yourself by picking something from the list. Part of the problem with big emotions is they can cloud our mind and we forget the things we want to do. Writing it down and having it someplace where we can easily get to is a perfect way of solving this problem. You can write the list down on note cards, post it notes, use a dry erase marker on your mirror, in your phone, or use the this printable Distraction Skills Worksheet.
Read a book
Read a magazine
Go to the library
Watch a show or movie
Go shopping (even window shopping)
Eat something sour or hot – something that will get your attention
Read old letters or cards that have positive sentiments
Hug a stuffed animal
Organize your calendar
Make a shopping list
Make a favorite meal (careful you don’t choose to use food to cope, stress eating can cause a real problem)
Copy recipes onto cards (last week we talked about going through old magazines, you can copy the recipes you wanted and get rid of it)
Research something you’re interested in
Read inspirational quotes – online or from a book
Start a new hobby (coloring books for older people are popular now)
Take a walk
Don’t forget about your children. Distraction is one of the best ways to help your children when they become too emotional. You can help them by distracting their mind toward something else. At different ages this will mean different things. For the younger kids, give them a toy or have them pick out a book to help them de-escalate. As they get older you can have them play a game (remember the time limit), have them do a favorite activity or watch a tv show. I’ve mentioned this before if you’ve been reading weekly, but all you need to do to decrease your emotions is to distract for 20 minutes. After that 20 minutes, it’s time to help your child understand their emotions, which should include labeling the emotion for your child and discussing the incident, plus letting them know that distraction is what helped them. Distraction skills are not a get out of trouble free card, but they are a way to make progress with learning about their emotions and about what they did instead of just punishing the emotional response.
What’s the Next Step?
Next month we will offer two posts about coping skills. Follow us on Facebook to see when they are posted, or check back here. I’m looking forward to moving onto a new category of coping skills to share with you.
Coping skills can help, but they cannot take the place of counseling and cannot solve many of the challenges associated with mental illness. If you need more help, we’re here for you. To schedule a counseling appointment, call us at 218-366-9229 (Park Rapids) or 218-444-2233 (Bemidji). For those interested, I offer Christian counseling out of the Park Rapids office. Please let reception staff (and me) know that you are interested in Christian counseling. Please check out our staff bios here.
Diane Cerven, LPCC
Want to read past posts on distraction skills, follow them here:
Time for a Cottage Update! Members of the Lake Country Cottage are holding their second annual Garage Sale on August 9th and 10th and need your donation of household goods. All proceeds of the sale go to funding activities for members of the Cottage. Last year, the sale was a huge success. Proceeds support activities and events, such as; Friday grill-outs for Members, an outing to Itasca State Park, pottery classes, a bowling outing and other activities in our community. Cottage Members have also chosen to donate a portion of last years garage sale proceeds to the construction of a backyard pergola.
The pergola project continues to make progress in the back yard of the Cottage. Most of the framing is up and stained. We’re looking for a good deal on some flagstone for the floor and path leading up to it (call Shawn or Spike at LCA if you have any ideas – 218-366-9229). Once the flooring is installed, we will transplant some grape vines from the yard to the base of it. Our hope is that the grape vines will completely cover the roof and add to the backyard charm. Once finished, the pergola will be a peaceful place for Members to meet and retreat. If you drop off items for the sale, take a peek into the back yard to check out the progress.
How Can I Help?
Members are asking for donations to this years garage sale. Household goods, tools, small appliances, dishes, shop toys, etc. are always a hit. They ask that you not donate clothing or other fabric items, such as beds or stuffed furniture (wood or plastic furniture sells very well and is greatly appreciated!). Please drop off your donations at the Lake Country Cottage during drop-in hours (see hours below). Members also hope that you’re able to make it to the sale to pick up some great deals. The Lake Country Cottage is located at 516 West First Street in Park Rapids – immediately West of Casey’s Convenience Store on Hwy 34.
In the last couple posts, we have been talking about distraction skills to help us with our emotions when they become too big or overwhelm us. In the first post, I talked about using deep breathing (which is also a relaxation skill. View here), and in the second post I talked about playing a 20 minute game to focus our mind on something else (view here). Distraction skills can be anything that will put our mind on to something other than the emotions we are struggling with, but why is that important?
Our Emotions Can Get in the Way
We talked in our first post about having large emotions and how those can get us into trouble (from constantly snipping all the way to yelling at someone, being rude or saying something in a way that others become defensive). Last time, we looked into the depressive thoughts our emotional brain can have. Our emotional brain is important, it is always telling us something. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s telling us that what’s going on is that it remembers a traumatic past or a stressful event. During these self-talk thoughts, we learned how to cope or survive the thoughts. The more these thoughts occur the more engrained our ways of coping become. That’s positive if it’s a good coping skill. When we just listen to our emotions then usually it’s not all that helpful. Some ways we cope or protect ourselves is with anger such as yelling at the person or sometimes we are just flooded and as a defense we shut down. Sometimes we isolate ourselves. Isolation is depressions best friend. If we want our depression to be worse, isolation is a good way to increase the depression.
Emotions are not always good at telling us how to cope. Instead of coming up with positive ways to cope or manage our thoughts, our emotions may have a negative dialogue with us. These thoughts then run through our heads, over and over again. For example, many of us have anxiety. Anxiety when facing a bear is very helpful. It shuts down unnecessary systems, doesn’t take superfluous information, it is working on how to stay alive. This is a good thing. However, when we have that level of anxiety about shopping, leaving our house, driving, talking to people, or taking a test, then our brains are working against us. The thoughts in our head that are making the anxiety worse and are trying to keep us alive are not helpful because the situation is not life or death. These are the times when we need to focus our brain on something else. This is where coping skills are helpful. There are many coping skills we can use, keep reading our posts to find out more.
Distract with Household Chores
Today, we will continue with distraction skills. As you monitor your thoughts or notice your emotions growing or beginning to overwhelm you, then it’s time to work on something else. You can try doing household chores. Let’s face it we all need to straighten or clean something in our homes. This is a perfect way for us to get our mind busy (bonus: some chores give us exercise too).
My first advice is to look around and find something to work on. Make it something doable. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to clean the entire kitchen. That’s a large chore. Instead, focus on something in the kitchen that needs to be cleaned or straightened, like that stack of papers in the corner or those dishes in the sink. We are trying to reach 20 minutes of distraction to decrease our emotions, with the bonus of getting something at least partly done, again, yay!
If your brain is concentrating too much on your emotional thoughts, make a list, and then pick something off it. Here’s my helpful list to trigger some cleaning ideas for you:
o Straightening things on a table
o Doing laundry (clothing, bedding, rugs, couch blanket)
o Washing dishes
o Cleaning out the junk drawer (the one with the old toaster’s manual and dead batteries)
o Cleaning the bathroom
o Getting rid of cob webs
o Watering plants (come to my house and do those too, lol)
o Taking out the trash
o Bathing pets (your pet snake really needs it, ok… maybe not)
o Cleaning floorboards
o Cleaning the refrigerator and freezer (what was that thing)
o Cleaning blinds and windows
o Vacuuming or laundering curtains
o Planting seedlings
o Going through old magazines (the ones you saved for the recipes but never used)
o Sorting through that stack of paper and junk mail (it’ll feel so good for that to be gone)
o Sorting through books and donating the ones you don’t want anymore, same with movies and music
o Putting those old photographs into a photo album (awww look at great-grandma)
o Pruning trees or shrubs
o Washing the car
Ok the list is endless; there are so many projects inside and out to work on that it can become overwhelming. Let’s not add to our emotional stress by focusing on an overwhelming amount of things to accomplish but do something small and short-term to distract ourselves and bring our emotions back down. The goal is at least 20 minutes. When our system is flooded with emotions, it takes about 20 minutes to come back down, so let’s take that 20 minutes and distract ourselves. Set the timer on our phone or stove and work for that amount of time. Along with picking places to clean to make the work more doable, we can also break it down into smaller more manageable tasks. Instead of cleaning out the closet, sort one box. Go through one stack of papers or magazines. Clean part of something or set a time limit. That’s all we need and any progress made is still progress, even if it didn’t get completely done.
Remember that we can use these coping skills with children who are overwhelmed emotionally as well. We can use distraction by redirecting their attention to something they can do. Personally, I would try doing a game first (remember it doesn’t have to be electronic and should last for only 20 minutes), or something physically active or calming, like deep breathing, and then suggest something in the cleaning/straightening realm. It will just go better, depending on your child. Now with children who are overly emotional, telling them to go clean something isn’t going to go well. For those of you who end up yelling at your children to clean up, that causes an emotional reaction in them. Sometimes children are already in the habit to overreact (aka emotionally react) just by asking them to do some household task. They are reacting as if trying to stay alive and you’re the bear. With their brain only responding with how they’ve learned to survive you (the bear), you’re getting resistance, not compliance. Make sure you’re calm, using your distraction skills (or other coping skills), and in calmness help your child to find their calm. If you catch their emotional reactions when they are still minimal, or find something they like, this can help them to redirect their thoughts and energy. When kids see you handling your emotions by distraction, such as with cleaning, they will learn that as well. Showing them how to manage emotions is the best way to teach them.
What’s the Next step to Distracting Myself?
Join us next time when we go over the final distraction skill before we head into new types of coping skills. Coping skills can help, but they cannot take the place of counseling and cannot solve many of the challenges associated with mental illness. If you need more help we’re here for you. To schedule a counseling appointment, call us at 218-366-9229 (Park Rapids) or 218-444-2233 (Bemidji).
Last week, I talked about our emotions escalating and needing a simple skill to use to reduce our emotions, deep breathing. Look for the deep breathing guide here. Let’s continue on the topic of distractions and learn new skills. Week 1 focused more on annoyance, which is part of the anger category. This week, let’s talk about how distractions can help with depression and sadness.
Depression and Sadness
Let’s first define them. Depression is chronic, at least 2 weeks, when one feels sad, or loss of interest or pleasure. Eating, sleeping, and energy can all change. We can be more fidgety or even have a marked slowing of our speech and movement. Thoughts of worthlessness and guilt can take over, and we can have concentration problems or decision problems. Finally thoughts of death, or wanting to die, all the way to trying to kill ourselves, can be present as well. If you feel like killing yourself please seek help and see this article: Resources for Suicide Prevention. These symptoms affect our functioning; we just don’t want to work, be social, or participate in general with life. If you have 5 or more of these symptoms I encourage you to get a diagnostic assessment and help from a trained and licensed mental health counselor. We can all relate to times when we at least felt sad, maybe having some of these symptoms but not 5 or more, or not lasting as long, and this is what I define as sadness. Even in the throes of depression we can get a mental break from our depressive brain and focus on something else.
Let’s bring up a time when we felt sad or depressed. Our depressed brain was dwelling on the negative.
“There’s no point.”
“No one cares.”
“Nothing goes right.”
“I could just kill myself.”
I could go on with depressive thinking, we all get the idea. At these times, our depressive brain is taking over (by the way, this could be any emotion our brain is stuck on). Our brain is running, ruminating really, it’s controlling our thought process. Our emotion gets worse. Many times depressive people will try to make it through the day with a heavy weight on them or they sit around, even just going back to bed, to get their thoughts to stop.
I want to encourage you when you’re sad, depressed, or any other emotion, and your brain is stuck in the thinking that comes with the emotion, to step out in a new way by using a coping skill. Coping skills are used to get our minds on something else, to fill our thoughts with something that is helpful. We’re starting with distraction skills, to distract us. There are so many ways we can distract ourselves. Like I mentioned last week, every coping skill is technically a distraction because it gets our mind on something else.
Games – A Great Distraction Skill
This week I want to focus on something that you may be doing in your free time but never thought of using to cope with difficult or large emotions. There is research being done and there is anecdotal (people have told me) evidence that this has helped them with their emotional regulation. Before we get there, I do want to caution to make sure that you don’t get lost from life in distraction skills. If your distraction is keeping you from living life, from paying attention to your family, friends, or anything else you need to be doing, then your distraction skill is not a skill, it’s a detriment. So let’s be mindful that we’re using this in moderation.
This week let’s talk about games as a distraction. I know this is one of my favorite ways to get my mind on something else for a little while. As my attention is focused on a game, my emotions have a chance to decrease. Another caution, there are games that increase anxiety or anger, or any emotion really depending on what they are. I was working on a cooking game, you have to get the orders done in a certain amount of time, and as it became more difficult, I became more irritable because of the anxiety that was caused by trying to remember how to do the recipes. That’s not good. Just give yourself a limited amount of time. When someone is flooded, it takes on average 20 minutes to decrease their emotions. Not several hours. 🙂
So what kinds of games am I talking about? Games that allow our thoughts to focus, so games that take some thought.
There are solo games we can play by ourselves. Try Sudoku, Mahjong, crossword puzzles, word finds, brain games, Solitaire, or puzzles.
We can also play individual games on our phone (don’t forget to set a time limit). For example: Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Candy Crush, Tetris or Solitaire. I like the detective kind of games. Really it’s endless. Just monitor how you feel playing. If it’s causing anxiety (like the game I was playing) or you get sucked in for too long then find another one. I’m also certain that the solo games from above can be found on your phone.
Games with Others
There are some great games that can be played with others. Try playing chess, checkers, Scrabble, card games, puzzles or Apples to Apples (a favorite with a big crowd). It’s endless here too. Any game you play with someone is going to distract you. Pick one that you find fun, or one that causes you to think.
We can’t forget playing with others online or phone. Try Words with Friends (they’ll even match you with friends if you don’t have family or friends who play) or try Facebook games, many you don’t directly play with others, but you can send and receive items with friends. Try Googling multi-player games. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your search.
When your emotional mind is taking over, decrease the thoughts and feelings by distracting yourself with a game. Over this next week, practice using a distraction skill by playing a game when your feelings are escalating. Then make a list (in case your brain is too overwhelmed to let you remember) of the ones that help.
Need More Personal Help?
Again, coping skills are tools. For more serious mental health concerns, please click here to contact us through our website and we’ll call you back. Feel free to call our Park Rapids office at 218-366-9229 or our Bemidji office at 218-444-2233. Please check out our staff bios. You can view mine by clicking on my name below. We are here to help.
Lake Country Associates welcomes two new staff to the ARMHS Program in Park Rapids:
Christina joined our Park Rapids ARMHS team and is working with clients in Cass and Hubbard counties. She received her Social Work degree from Bemidji State University in 2008. From there she relocated to southern Mexico where she taught English and music, and gained a whole new perspective on life and living. She has worked with individuals of all ages in community, home and school settings. In her position as a Mental Health Practitioner, Christina is very motivated to work together with people to improve the quality of their lives.
Aaron Majors is an MSW intern at Lake Country Associates. He earned a B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science in 2014. Aaron also earned his A.A.S. in Aerospace Ground Equipment Technology in 2010. Aaron brings a unique background to Lake Country Associates. He is retired from the Air Force after serving 20+ years on active duty. Aaron has worked in some of the most diverse and dynamic environments in the world. During his internship, Aaron would like to be involved in the Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS), Community Support Program (CSP), Adult mental health drop-in center, and hospice services with St. Joseph’s Healthcare. Aaron has a passion for people and community and follows a strengths-based approach when addressing individual issues. Aaron is eager to apply his skills and knowledge in ways that will serve to the betterment of the community. He wants to empower those the people we serve and connect them to the services they deserve.
There are times when we become overwhelmed, flooded with emotions. At those times our anger, anxiety, depression, disappointment, guilt, shame, fear… the list goes on, they take over our brain and we respond, well, emotionally. Some people are more emotional people, they’re just born that way, but most everyone can relate to losing emotional control. A time, let’s be honest, timeS, in our lives when we react based on our emotions.
I’ll start with a good emotion, one we all like feeling as an example, love. The saying ‘love is blind’ is so true. It gives us energy, we can stay up all night talking or just thinking about the one we love. Their flaws and annoyances disappear, sometimes even rational thought that would save us disappears, and we act emotionally. We allow love to take over, and since it feels so good we don’t complain (though we all have our share of regret).
But what about the other emotions? When anger sweeps through us? When we are so anxious that we freeze? Or our depressive brain tells us no one cares, just stay in bed. What are we supposed to do then? Do we just let our brains react and behave as our emotions dictate? Well, some of us do, and all of us have. Is there a better way? Well, I’m glad I asked.
What Can I Do About My Emotions?
One of the simplest things we can do when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us is to practice a coping skill or coping mechanism, as some call it. These are ways of controlling, or at least lessening the intensity of our emotions so that we can allow our logic brain time to help. Emotions are a sign. They’re trying to tell us something. The larger the emotion, the bigger the sign. Let’s use annoyance as an example. We can all think of something that annoys us.
I’ll choose someone clicking a pen over and over again. It’s distracting. Our brain can’t focus on what we’re doing. The repetitiveness starts to grate at our nerves. As it continues, our annoyance increases and increases until we make an emotional response to the miscreant that floods our ears with their click, click, clicking (PS – name calling increases that angry feeling). We snap, we bark something, “Do you mind!?”, or “Stop!” or even “Shut it!”. Just now, our emotional brain has left a mean message, we’re in a foul mood, and hopefully, once we’ve recovered and calmed down, we have remorse for how we acted. Not good dude, not good because the emotional mind made the call of what to say and because it’s emotional it didn’t do it well, it was rude.
Now if we were the clicking perpetrator. We’re offended, maybe we’re anxious now (depending on who is saying it and what we know of that person). Heck, maybe we were nervous to begin with, which led to the clicking to get rid of nervous energy and now we’re even worse. Now we have a choice, and the typical choice is not to say something like, “hey man, I’m sorry. I’m really nervous and wasn’t paying attention.” Wow, wouldn’t that be a nice responder (this person is emotionally healthy). The typical response however when we’re verbally attacked is to get defensive. We’re emotional and we’re acting it, so we find another way to act out our anxiety, shaking our leg, chewing on the pen, etc. Or we hide our anxiety with anger and say something back, maybe not verbally either but with body language, like glaring at them with a ‘come at me bro’ look on our face. This is escalating, isn’t it.
Instead of being the emotionally annoyed person who lashes out or the anxious person who is letting off anxious energy but not decreasing it we can have emotional intelligence and handle our own emotions by self-soothing. Same situation, clicking pen (you can conger up an annoyance you have too, make this real). You feel your annoyance rising. This time instead of letting it go to the braking point you choose another way…and that way is, let’s tie it to the top now, a coping skill.
We here at Lake Country Associates would like to offer coping skills for you to use. Our goal is to do a coping skill a week, over the next year. Actually, each month we are going to pick another category of coping skills, and make sure you get a nice list of them during that month. Each week we’ll have at least one, but most likely several coping skills. The hope is to help you to deal with your emotions affectively, so that you don’t become flooded and make emotional decisions, like lashing out. Come back weekly to learn some new ones and pick the ones that work for you in the situations you need them in. I don’t want to minimize mental health by acting like coping skills are a cure all, but they can help in many situations.
Let’s start with the category of distraction. Technically, all coping skills fit into this category because they get your mind on something else, we’ll get more specific later. For this first coping skills blog we are going to teach you the counselors coping skill number one pick. No really, it’s that basic, BUT we need to include it because of it’s importance. For this next week, and well for forever after that, I want you to practice deep breathing. There are several different ways of doing deep breathing, I’m going to teach the way that works great for me and doesn’t make me light headed. Let’s begin.
Get into a comfortable position. Feet on the floor, arms relaxed, shoulders down. Now slowly inhale, fill up your lungs and all the way down into your belly, fill your lungs as full as you can, and hold it. Now slowly exhale, letting all the air out. Repeat; inhale slowly, filling your lungs completely, hold it for a second, and slowly exhale, letting it all out. One more time; inhale, filling all the way up, hold it, and exhale slowly, releasing any remaining tension in your body. Feel your body relax. And that’s it. The more you practice this technique, the calmer you’ll feel at the end. Plus, you get a muscle memory so that just thinking about doing deep breathing will cause an automatic relaxation, which when you then practice deep breathing, you will feel even more relaxed at the end. You see, you can’t be in a state of emotional tension and relaxed at the same time.
There you have it, your first coping skill. You can come back here and be led through deep breathing, use it on your own, or even walk through it with a loved one (your kids can love this too). Some variations: balloon breathing (literally get a balloon…it takes very deep breaths to blow them up), bubbles, or add imagery like smelling in something delicious (like fresh cookies, hot chocolate, a flower, etc), and then slowly breathing out (if it’s hot chocolate or a hot cookie you can imagine blowing on it to cool it down). You can also tell yourself that you’re breathing in peace and breathing out anger or anxiety or sadness (or use the words that work best for you). Practice this, practice this with your kids, teach your friends, you can do this.
What’s the Next Step to Calming Myself?
Join us next week when we go over another distraction skill to help with our emotional regulation. As I mentioned before coping skills help but are not a solution to major mental illness. If you need more help we’re here for you. To make a counseling appointment call us at 218-366-9229 (Park Rapids) or 218-444-2233 (Bemidji).
Please check out our staff bios. You can view mine here.
Lake Country Associates will again be offering Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) therapy group on Wednesday afternoons beginning July 18, 2018.
What Is STEPPS?
STEPPS is a cognitive behavioral, skills training approach to assist people in the management of emotional intensity and the development of emotional regulation skills. Developed at the University of Iowa, this program is a skills training approach originally designed for persons diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, in our experience delivering this group we find that the material applies well to any disorder in which an individual experiences intense emotions that are difficult to manage and regulate. We call these “emotional intensity episodes”. Persons with Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorders as well as PTSD can find this skills-based approach helpful in their recovery. A key aspect of this program is the development of a Reinforcement Team. This allows key support persons, family, friends and professionals working with the individual to learn and reinforce the skills the individual is learning.
What Can I Expect?
STEPPS consists of 20 – 1½ hour group therapy sessions and 1 Reinforcement Team session. This group is co-facilitated by Jean Greseth, MSW, LICSW, a clinical social worker and Laura Kempnich, MSW, LGSW, a clinical social work trainee at Lake Country Associates. Jean has facilitated STEPPS groups for the past 8 years and is an experienced clinician in the treatment of mental illness. Ms. Kempnich is working towards licensure as a clinical social worker, under the supervision of Jean Greseth.
STEPPS will be offered on Wednesday afternoons from 5:30 pm to 7:00 p.m. at “Lake Country Cottage” Drop-in Center. The Cottage is located on Hwy 34, next to Casey’s convenience store, 516 West First Street, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
How Do I Sign Up for STEPPS Group?
We are accepting referrals for STEPPS at this time. Start date is July 18, 2018. Please call Lake Country Associates at 218-366-9229 to make a referral or download a Referral Form. All individuals referred will need to have a current Diagnostic Assessment completed by a Mental Health Professional and meet with Ms. Greseth or Ms. Kempnich for a 30 minute individual session prior to the start of group.
Have you ever been distracted in a public place and lost track of your young child for even 15 seconds? Do you recall how it felt? How about when you were a child; do you remember getting briefly separated from a parent while in a store? Imagine having that feeling for a day, a month or for an indefinite period of time.
The National Association of Social Workers and the American Psychological Association are asking the United States Government to stop the policy of separating the children of asylum seekers crossing the border from their parents and to reunite those children already separated with their parents or families. At Lake Country Associates, we recognize the damage that has been done to generations of people, such as Native Americans, Japanese Americans, African Americans and others. We ask the administration to stop this practice which inflicts unnecessary trauma on vulnerable children.
“A “zero tolerance” immigration policy that would prosecute families who attempt to cross the border and forcibly separate children from parents is malicious and unconscionable and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) will press lawmakers to rescind this egregious action.”
“While we are gratified that President Trump has ended this troubling policy of wresting immigrant children from their parents, we remain gravely concerned about the fate of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated and are in shelters. These children have been needlessly traumatized and must be reunited with their parents or other family members as quickly as possible to minimize any long-term harm to their mental and physical health. In the interim, they should be assessed for and receive any needed mental or physical health care by qualified health care professionals.
Decades of psychological research show that children separated from their parents can suffer severe psychological distress, resulting in anxiety, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, withdrawal, aggressive behavior and decline in educational achievement. The longer the parent and child are separated, the greater the child’s symptoms of anxiety and depression become.
The American Psychological Association stands ready to assist in getting these children the psychological care that they will need during the time they are in U.S. custody and upon their release.
However, the executive order could create new challenges to the health and well-being of immigrant families by opening the door to holding children with their parents longer than is now permitted by law. The bottom line is we need to have immigration policies that are humane and in the best interests of children and families.”
With the recent celebrity deaths by suicide it’s on our minds to reach out to people in need.
We look at celebrities who kill themselves and we ask, why? They’re rich, they’re famous. If someone like Anthony Bourdain can commit suicide, when he seemed to be living the dream, what’s the point of my life? What’s there to live for? Many of us have these thoughts run through our minds. Especially when suicides are in our newsfeeds and on tv.
For some of us, it’s more than just a passing thought. They are real questions that we’re asking ourselves. They’re real feelings of hopelessness, sadness, even numbness that cloud our minds, cloud our lives. Those questions drive us to despair, and lost in our depression, our pain, our chronic medical condition, our grief, we just want it all to end. Believing that our pain ending is the only way through this, and to end our pain suicide is the answer, but it’s not.
There is hope, let us help you find it. Psychotherapy has been found to be an effective way of helping people to get through their mental pain. Talking to a counselor, someone who is empathetic, and impartial, who can help you to see there could be a tomorrow without the depression being so large. A counselor can use their training and therapeutic techniques to help.
It takes a choice on your part. You can continue listening to the questions, to the depression, to the emotional desire for things to get better but wanting to end it quickly. Or you can give counseling a chance and start the work of getting better with support. Call us at 218-366-9229 to schedule an appointment with a Lake County Associates counselor.
What’s the difference between a Rule 25, a Chemical Use Assessment and a Comprehensive Assessment?
What is Peer Support and Treatment Coordination?
Do I need Outpatient Treatment, Substance Use Disorder Treatment or Residential Treatment?
What’s the difference between Withdrawal Management and Detox?
How do I pay for services…what’s a PMAP…what is a Consolidated Treatment Fund?
If you or a family member find yourself in a position where you believe a problem has developed with mood altering chemicals it may be a confusing and daunting task to know where to turn and how to get help.
My name is Loretta Bach and I am a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. I started partnering with Lake Country Associates (LCA) in Park Rapids and surrounding communities this February. In my bio on the LCA Website, I mentioned that I have been working in the field of addiction treatment (no, wait, its now “Substance Use Disorder” treatment) since 1986. Over that time, I had been fortunate to work with many talented and forward-thinking professionals; delivering care in the treatment of chemical dependency. With my community partners, we have adapted to countless changes, challenges, and advances in treating Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). I have had the opportunity to see many changes in the field over the past 30+ years and I look forward to working with LCA in adapting to the new round of changes that are set to be put in place July 1 of this year.
The good news is we live in Minnesota, which has been a pioneer in this field. Many other states have looked to us as a model to help the populations in their respective states. Lake Country Associates has invested the time with consultations, webinars and meeting with surrounding county workers to make sure we can provide the direction and assistance needed with our unique challenges of delivering care in our rural setting.
Are the upcoming changes to SUD in MN confusing? Yes
Are these changes meant to improve the care to people needing help? Yes
Have many people spent countless hours pondering changes and listening to professionals in the field in order to put a workable system in place? Yes
Am I dedicated to helping you navigate the changes and get the services you need? Absolutely!
I look forward to being a part of this transition with you and to helping you get the services that best fit your situation.
There are a couple ways to learn more:
– You can call your county Social Service Department. In Hubbard County, the contact staff is Tammie Roth.
– You can call Lake Country Associates at 218-366-9229 and talk with me about your questions or set up an appointment for a “Rule 25” or for care associated with a (join me in practicing the new terminology) “Substance Use Disorder”.
Lake Country Associates welcomes Laura Hansen Master’s of Social Work (MSW), Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) to our Bemidji office. Laura has thirty-two years of experience working in the mental health, counseling and social work field. In 2008, Laura obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. Prior to earning her master’s degree, Laura worked as a social worker in the areas of child protection, family service and welfare reform. Laura has sixteen years of experience as a school social worker, school counselor, and mental health therapist. In February 2011, she obtained her clinical license with the Minnesota Board of Social Work as an Independent Clinical Social Worker. Laura has worked as an adjunct instructor in the Social Work Department at Bemidji State University.
Laura enjoys working with people and uses a comprehensive, person centered approach, drawing on the strengths perspective. She utilizes cognitive-behavioral therapy, one’s environment, physical health, psychological and emotional aspects and spirituality. Laura has extensive experience working with people addressing anxiety, depression, life changes and transitions, grief and loss, relationships and communication, trauma, couples relational issues, spirituality and family therapy. Laura also works with people who are managing severe and persistent mental illness. Laura enjoys working with adults, adolescents and children ages seven and up. Laura is honored to share in people’s exploration and journey through the challenges in life and to work together to improve the identified issues and concerns.
Community members may have heard that the state of Minnesota’s crisis text provider “Txt4life” is ending next month. This service will be moving from a Minnesota provider to an existing national nonprofit called Crisis Text Line. Txt4life will be responding to texts through March, though texters will receive an auto message with their first text letting them know of the change and what the new number is. This automated message is active now and will be in place for an undetermined amount of time after March.
How to Access the Crisis Text Line
The new service through Crisis Text Line is active and available now. Your clients/students can access this service by texting “MN” to 741741. For now, please help make the transition by discontinuing promotion for Txt4life. Promotional materials for the new line will soon be available in schools and in the community. In the meantime, please spread the word about the change.
Caleb Roiko, a Registered Nurse, joined our Park Rapids ARMHS team in December and will be providing Medication Education services for people in the ARMHS program. He attended Northwest Technical College in Bemidji and become a Registered Nurse in 2016. Caleb is excited about working in his community and helping people understand the symptoms of their illness and overcome the side-effects of their medication.
What is Medication Education?
Medication Educators help teach people in the ARMHS program about the following:
Their mental illness and symptoms
The role that medications play in treating symptoms of mental illness
Coping with medication side effects
Medication Education can also include helping family members or significant others develop ways to better maintain the medication regiment for their loved one. To begin with, Caleb will be providing services in a group setting, but he is willing to meet individually with people by appointment.
See the ARMHS calendar, found at the Forms and Brochures page for details of upcoming Medication Education groups.
Please join us in welcoming Caleb Roiko, RN to the LCA Team!
Please join us in welcoming Loretta Bach, LADC to the Lake Country team. Loretta graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato with certification in chemical dependency counseling in 1986. She went on to work towards certification as a CCDCR and was ultimately licensed by the State of Minnesota as an LADC. Loretta has worked continuously since her certification and licensure at all levels of Substance Use Disorder treatment. She has worked with both adolescents and adults. Loretta was the Program Director of an adolescent residential treatment program in Winnebago, Minnesota. She also has worked in delivering outpatient services in the roles of primary counselor and outpatient coordinator. She helped Mayo Health Systems develop an extended care/board and lodge program as well as helping with staff development.
Loretta moved to Park Rapids in 2009. She has worked most of her time at Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center and Northern Pines Mental Health since her move “Up North”.
Loretta says she has been fortunate to work with many compassionate and forward-thinking staff and supervisors over her years of practice. She has witnessed staggering changes in health care and has worked with the people that have drawn up policy and still have found ways to provide “person centered” care while working with these changes. She is excited to continue that journey with her coworkers at Lake County Associates.
On January 2, Alicia V. Holley, MA, LPCC, ATR-BC joined the LCA team in the Bemidji office. Alicia is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified-Registered Art Therapist with 15 years of experience providing mental health and art therapy services to children and families. Alicia is an experienced Clinician and Program Coordinator, having managed an early childhood and outpatient mental health program in the past. Alicia is a board approved supervisor with the MN Board of Behavioral Health.
With all her experience, Alicia most enjoys working directly with children, individuals, and families. Her clinical style is client-focused and strengths-based, with a strong focus on interactive interventions including art, use of stories, and play. She displays clinical confidence in building rapport with families, responding to a range of clinical concerns, and implementing a variety of therapeutic interventions. Alicia has experience with specific clinical needs including adoption, trauma, parent-child relationship conflict/distress, and has worked with children, individuals, and families of all ages, with a broad range of diagnoses. She is trained in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)- for children ages 2-7 and their caregivers, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC)- for children 6-24 months and their caregivers, Trauma-Informed Child-Parent Psychotherapy (TI-CPP)- for children ages 0-5 and their caregivers, and the Managing and Adapting Practice (MAP) service model for children up to 18 years of age.
Please join us in welcoming Alicia to the Lake Country Associates Team!
Lake Country Associates will again be offering the Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) group therapy. STEPPS is a cognitive behavioral, skills training approach to assist people in the management of emotional intensity and the development of emotional regulation skills. Developed at the University of Iowa, this program is a skills training approach originally designed for persons diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, in our experience when delivering this group, we find that the material applies well to any disorder in which an individual experiences intense emotions that are difficult to manage and regulate. We call these experiences “emotional intensity episodes”. Persons with Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorders as well as PTSD can find this skills-based approach helpful in their recovery. A key aspect of this program is the development of a Reinforcement Team. This allows key support persons, family, friends and professionals working with the individual to learn and reinforce the skills the individual is learning.
The STEPPS group therapy sessions will begin Wednesday October 4th, 2017 and will be held at the Lake Country Associates Park Rapids office. The sessions will start at 1:00 p.m. and end at 2:30 p.m. They will be held for 20 – 1 ½ hour group therapy sessions and 1 Reinforcement Team session. Referrals are being accepted at this time. A late afternoon or evening group could be offered if enough interest is generated for that time slot.
STEPPS will be facilitated by Jean Greseth, MSW, LICSW Clinical Social Worker at Lake Country Associates. Jean has facilitated STEPPS groups for the past 8 years and is an experienced clinician in the treatment of mental illness. All individuals referred or self referred will need to have a current Diagnostic Assessment completed by a Mental Health Professional and meet with Ms. Greseth for a 30 minute individual session prior to the start of group. Costs for the sessions can be billed to insurance.
How to get started
Please call Lake Country Associates at 218-366-9229 to make a referral or download a referral form. Referral forms may be faxed to our office at 218-732-2520.
Lake Country Cottage drop-in center has been open for a couple months now. Construction on the building is complete and Members have been working to make their drop-in center comfortable for everyone. Since opening, there have been many improvements and changes around “The Cottage”.
Here’s what’s new:
As of August 7th, we’ve changed our open hours to provide services four days a week, instead of three. Feedback from Members and Staff at the Cottage was that early morning and late afternoon hours on Friday were very lightly attended. Shortening the days on Friday and adding Thursday afternoon made the drop-in center more accessible to more people. Here are the new hours:
Mondays 9AM – 1PM
Tuesdays 12PM – 4PM
Thursdays 12PM – 4PM
Fridays 9AM – 1PM
All Lake Country Associates ARMHS groups are now being held at The Cottage.
Members of The Cottage have conceptualized, planned, and are carrying out a garage sale on August 17 and 18. Members have decided to use any proceeds to supplement activities for all members. Ideas that have been presented by Members include: additional pottery and art classes, additional outings to Itasca Park, berry picking as a group, etc. Non-clothing donations are appreciated and can be dropped off at the Cottage during drop-in hours until 8/11/17.
The nutrition classes taught by St. Joseph’s staff is now being held at the Cottage.
Staff and Members have worked together on several projects to make the Cottage a comfortable and fun environment for everyone. Working together with and for others is good for your mental health.
Cottage Members and Staff have spent countless hours chipping in, building meaningful relationships, joking around with each other, and taking pride in their drop-in center. Some of the projects include:
sanding and staining the picnic table
clearing the grape vines that had taken over the beautiful trees
cleaning out the garage in preparation for the garage sale
planting tomatoes and other porch plants
splitting and moving ferns and other perennials around the yard
Lake Country Associates is proud of the improvements Members of the Cottage have made in an effort to help each other. To learn more about the Cottage or to become a member, visit our Cottage Page.
Lake Country Associates is happy to announce the addition of two new Mental Health Rehab Workers to our ARMHS team of professionals.
RJ received his Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Bemidji State University in 1994 and graduated on May 25, 2017 from the Peer Employment Training course facilitated by Northern Pines Mental Health Center.
RJ lived in the Seattle, Washington area where he worked in the technology industry for both businesses and as an entrepreneur in the areas of telecom, web development, coding and design. He returned to the Park Rapids area eight years ago continuing his work as an entrepreneur. Although not his primary function at LCA, his I.T. experience is a welcome addition which will assist in our continued development!
RJ has one son and a large extended family who are all extremely supportive of his endeavors, especially his latest one with LCA. He is enthused to be a part of LCA and excited to make use of his own life experiences in order to help others along the path to wellness and recovery.
Kate enters the mental health field with a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Concordia College. She looks forward to helping people build skills to manage their mental health in the community. In addition to working as a Rehab Worker with the ARMHS program, Kate will be spending Tuesday afternoons at the Lake Country Cottage. She looks forward to helping create a safe and welcoming environment for members. Because of her interest in art, Kate plans to lead regular Tuesday afternoon art gatherings at the Cottage. As the program develops, she is confident that members will feel free to come relax, laugh, enjoy the company of others, and join her in her appreciation for art.
Initially, both Mental Health Rehab Workers will be providing services out of the Lake Country Cottage in Park Rapids. As they develop their intervention skills, Kate and RJ will work in tandem with Mental Health Practitioners in providing individualized services to people with mental illness in our community.
Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Kate and RJ, the newest members of the LCA family!
Lake Country Cottage opened its doors mid-May and will provide new opportunities for community members diagnosed with mental illness. The Cottage’s goal is to use the tenets of the Clubhouse Model to help people diagnosed with mental illness (its members) with employment and housing, create daily structure, build work and social skills and develop a community of meaningful relationships. The technical term is psychosocial rehabilitation, but it’s essentially about building positive relationships and skills that can help you overcome the challenges of living with a mental health diagnosis.
Lake Country Cottage is located at 516 1st Street West in Park Rapids (immediately West of Casey’s on Hwy 34) and is operated by Lake Country Associates. Currently, “The Cottage” is being used as a comfortable space for community mental health staff to complete their paperwork, meet individually with clients, and provide ARMHS skills groups. Beginning next week, we will begin offering scheduled drop-in hours as follows:
A 2015 community needs assessment conducted by The Improve Group found that in our region, a “drop-in center” was one of the top needs identified. A drop-in center is also regularly identified as a strong community need at the Hubbard County Mental Health Local Advisory Council. “It’s for those times when you are having problems with your symptoms, but it’s not so bad that you need to go to the hospital”, said one consumer advocating for the need at the Advisory Council meeting, “when you just need to be around people, away from the four walls of your apartment and in a safe place with people who understand about your illness”.
Lake Country Cottage is also host to the Activities Leadership Group (ALG) meetings and activities.
What is the Activities Leadership Group?
ALG is a consumer-run group that meets twice a month to plan and implement social and recreational activities for the larger community of mental health consumers. ALG typically plans two community activities per month, which can be found on LCA Activity Calendar.
Last week, The Cottage kicked off its ALG schedule in the garage with a “garden party”. Staff and members brought in their overgrown houseplants to split and share with others. Everyone got their hands dirty and walked away with new houseplants to warm their homes and apartments. “It was so fun”, said Jean Greseth, plant-splitting enthusiast and counselor at LCA, “it’s what you’re supposed to do with plants…share them with the people you care about”.