Allies and Agents of Social Change

Allies and Agents of Social Change


The Death of George Floyd has sparked outrage and strong emotions. Anger. Anxiety. Frustration. Horror. Fear. Emotional Rawness. Repeated images and stories on social media replaying disturbing images of Floyd, an unarmed Black man with his face to the pavement while Chauvin, a White police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, was not only disturbing but triggering. My heart goes out to Floyd’s family who not only lost a beloved member of their family, but learned about the details of his traumatic death in such a horrific way.

We stand in solidarity with the Black community. Therapists play an important role as allies and agents of social change and our therapists at CARE Counseling are committed to making a positive impact in the community. According to the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics, when appropriate, counselors advocate at individual, group, institutional, and societal levels to address potential barriers and obstacles that inhibit access and / or growth and development of clients.
Many people, including our former presidents are speaking out related to george-floyd-protests/  “No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did, and the truth is, if you’re White in America, the chances are you won’t”– Bill Clinton. Obama is urging for “real change” and calls for police reform. “It is time for America to examine our tragic failures”–George W. Bush  “We need a government as good and its people and we are better than this.” –Jimmy Carter.
Social change involves shifts in attitudes, values, and actions. To start, we need to reflect inward, examine biases and judgments. Our collective voices have power, especially as they come together in peace and unity towards a common goal.

Where do we start?

Giving, advocating, and volunteering our time, talents, and resources are great action steps.
A helpful visual tool is the Social Change Wheel which is a beautiful illustration of the important roles one can take to promote social change. I really like this wheel because it symbolizes movement. I also like this illustration because it is an ongoing effort as wheels won’t continue to move without momentum.
Advocacy. Charitable volunteerism. Community & Economic Development. Research. Community Building. Community Organizing. Deliberate Dialogue, Informal Associations & Mutual Aid. Philanthropy. Protests & Demonstrations. Social Entrepreneurship. Socially Responsible Daily Behavior. Voting & Formal Political Activities. These all can contribute to social change.


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The professionals at CARE are actively collecting and creating resources to help with what you need. We’re Here for You.

Baby Steps


It takes courage to take first steps.
Oftentimes we are reluctant to be the one to go first but it is that by taking the first step that we can learn to walk and build up momentum to run. Most babies start taking their initial steps by the first year of life, typically around 9 to 12 months to where they are walking by roughly six months later. Before a baby even takes that first step, they will show signs of readiness. Examples include crawling, pulling up to stand, and getting around by holding onto furniture. While some steps might feel like instinct, for others even the most simple steps such as getting out of bed, doing household tasks, or making a phone call may take a significant amount of effort. Seeking help for mental health concerns can be especially hard. It takes courage to reach out for help and hard work to build up strength to move forward.
“Baby steps count, as long as you are going forward. You add them all up and one day you look back and you’ll be surprised at where you might get to” –Chris Gardner
Depression can impact the motivation to initiate reaching out for help and anxiety can create anxious apprehension. Misinformation, fear, and stigma are common factors that prevent us from seeking help. I am encouraged by stories from first time clients who took the initiative to care for their mental health. I am a strong advocate for preventative care, taking a proactive approach to overall health and wellness. Providing information about mental health through education and community outreach is one way that CARE Counseling is working to reduce stigma. The power of personal testimony to family and friends who may benefit from mental health treatment is so powerful that it may save a life. Suggesting therapy is a practical way in which we can help support out loved ones.
Prior to COVID19, Americans were reporting levels of stress, anger and worry that were at their highest levels in decades, according to a survey in 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/us/americans-stressful.html  Of those polled, 55% of adults were reporting stress a lot of the day while 45% were reporting a lot of worry. Overall baselines of stress, anger, and worry have only been exacerbated. Did you know that 4 in 5 Americans’ mental health has been impacted by COVID-19? That is 80% of the population! Since there is a strong connection to physical and mental health, it is important to take care of both. Now is a great time to take charge of your mental health.
Listen to your body’s signals that indicate readiness that it is time for change such as changes in sleep, appetite, and energy levels. Also pay attention to changes in thinking that contribute to feeling overwhelmed, irritable, lonely, or unfocused such as racing thoughts, negative or suicidal thinking, and constant worry. Help is just a phone call or a click away.


We’re Here to help


Our wellness experts will be happy to take care of you. You can CLICK HERE to schedule an appointment now or call (612)223-8898.




Meet Clinicians


We’re united by our commitment to providing effective, relevant, and innovative mental health support at all stages of your journey. Click Here to find out more about who we are, where we come from, and how we live out CARE’s mission every day.





The professionals at CARE are actively collecting and creating resources to help with what you need. We’re Here for You.

Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way



Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood. It is a time that I look forward to each year as a mother and daughter; however, I recognize that Mother’s Day can bring mixed emotions to both children and mothers impacted by social distancing and other challenging circumstances related to trauma, grief and loss.
Children who have experienced abuse or neglect at the hands of their mother or mother-figure often struggle as Mother’s Day may trigger painful emotions. For children whose maternal bonds have been disrupted within the early years of life, foster mothers, autines, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, step-mothers may take the role of mother. Adoptive, foster, and kinship mothers play such an important, yet difficult job to help children who may be experiencing grief or displaying  emotional dysregulation or behavioral issues.
Mother’s Day can be a painful reminder to women who struggle with infertility or who have lost children for various reason including miscarriage, stillbirth, termination of pregnancy, loss of parental rights, or custody issues. Rather than experiencing joy, mothers who have lost children may struggle with grief, anger, and loneliness. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises for couples.
“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”  -Unknown
For children who have experienced the death of a mother, grandmother or mother-figure, it can be difficult to just get through the day with emotions that may come. Loss of significant people in our lives is difficult, especially when the loss is of a parent or child. Caring for someone with chronic illness can also trigger grief reactions (https://www.caregiver.org/grief-and-loss) due to ambiguous loss which is common when a parent is displaying cognitive impairments or anticipatory grief.
While it it normal to experience a variety of emotions with loss, symptoms that indicate that mental health counseling would be beneficial include the following–
  • Persistent feelings of depression
  • Decreased interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Changes in sleep, appetite, or weight
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or completing tasks
  • Often feeling anxious or often worrying
  • Persistent feelings of anger, irritability, or negativity
  • Feelings of guilt, self-blame, shame, or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Use of drugs or alcohol to cope with emotional pain
  • Tension in interpersonal relationships
  • Social Isolation and withdrawal from others
This Mother’s Day I encourage you to reach out to someone who may need some extra love and support. Express love and appreciation for the mother in your life. Remind her of your love. Show appreciation in a meaningful way. Continue to carry out traditions, while being creative to make accommodations during a time of social distancing. While this year, you may not be taking mom out to her favorite restaurant, there are still great options with takeout and carry out. We can encourage mom with words of affirmation, express our love and encouragement or send a token of appreciation with a heartfelt gift. We can also still stay connected to mothers and women who symbolize motherhood with phone calls and video chat.
I encourage any women reading this to reach out and seek support if you are struggling. There is hope and healing. Listed is just a sample of some of the excellent support resources available.  Know that you are not alone and that other mothers and professionals are there to help.

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Supports:

Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc. http://nationalshare.org/
Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota https://ppsupportmn.org/loss/
Postpartum Support International https://www.postpartum.net
Exhale After-Abortion Hotline https://exhaleprovoice.org/ 1-866-439-4253

Outpatient Clinic (telehealth) Counseling Support for Grief & Loss

Hospital | Clinic Based Grief & Loss Resources

Support group for adoptive, foster or kinship parents

Dating During Distancing


During this time of social distancing, many of us are binge-watching shows such as “Love is Blind” and “Too Hot to Handle” on Netflix. Watching television can serve as a distraction from our anxious thoughts but it definitely does not replace the need for human interaction.
The show “Love is Blind” questions if it is possible for singles to find a match and fall in love without seeing each other face-to-face. Couples are first introduced to each other as they date in “pods” as part of a social experiment before ever meeting in person. Believe it or not, I met my partner online and “fell in love” before meeting face to face. We communicated for many months through phone and email before meeting. I was intrigued to see if couples who formed “emotional connections” on the show could possibly sustain this after meeting face to face and including all the other variables of “life” outside the comfort of their pods.
Reverse back at least 20 years ago to the days before Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid, and Grindr. Depending on your age, we may have to go way back to a time with limited technology where dating started with a face-to-face meeting, maintained by contact through meetings or by phone. Maybe you wrote a personal ad, traditionally in newspapers which made its transformation to online dating before smartphones, Facebook, and Snapchat. Nowadays, most young people are relying on dating apps. Considering that dating is already hard for so many, check out this video on Why Dating is Hard for Millenials:


A common recommendation for coping with loneliness and depression is to have social contact. In the time of social distancing, contact often takes place through phone or video. This may help explain why more and more people are turning to dating apps such as Tinder to help combat loneliness . [ https://www.mndaily.com/article/2020/03/n-students-are-turning-to-tinder-more-than-ever-thanks-to-social-distancing ]. As in person meet ups have decreased, many are getting creative with video dating options available through apps and finding ways to express sexual intimacy outside of face-to-face encounters.
The show “Too Hot to Handle” is a true test of celibacy as young singles can’t have sexual contact if they want to win the cash prize.
Our culture tends to struggle with instant gratification (SWIPE), wanting our needs met immediately or relying on a partner for our own happiness or fulfillment of sexual needs and fantasies. Relationship issues are a very common presenting concern in therapy and dating is often included as a significant source of stress. With use of email or text messages, there is a delay in communication (versus face-to-face or phone conversation) and it is also more difficult to detect tone. As anxiety is already heightened, it is no surprise to experience apprehension with texts when dating as you are missing out on the non-verbals. Since this is present with video dating options, communication tends to be improved. Throughout the course of “Too Hot to Handle,” contestants learn about nonverbal communication, vulnerability, intimacy, and empowerment. These are skills that are so important in dating, and in relationships in general such as eye contact and being able to pick up on cues such as flirting. One of the trends seen lately is that more and more people are having “matches” as people are taking more steps to form social connections which appear to be facilitated by quarantine. Being able to become vulnerable with another person where one can feel safe, share emotions and experiences during a time of social distances is, in my opinion, empowering.

Struggling to Find any Positives?!

Struggling to Find any Positives?!


As a therapist, I spend many hours a week talking with people who are struggling to find any positives during this time, or at all. My role is to make space for my client’s experiences during this unprecedented time.
People who have experienced trauma often struggle with being disconnected and isolated. For them, being alone can be terrifying, anxiety-provoking, and fraught with feelings they are not able to avoid. There can be feelings of hopelessness and despair: a complete loss or absence of hope. When we are home alone without the activities of the day to distract us, our emotional memories can become overwhelming. The emotional impact of COVID-19 can feel traumatizing. Many of us will feel irritable, agitated, angry, and depressed as we continue to spend 24 hours alone or with our loved ones in our homes, while we are bombarded with news and media about the crisis unfolding around us. Yet, many of us fluctuate between a state of hopelessness and despair to hope: expectation and desire for certain things to happen.
We are all doing our own personal best as we navigate this uncertainty; there is no direction or instruction on how to do this the right way. There are so many factors that are outside of one’s control but we can control our response. While we may not be able to change our circumstances with COVID-19, we can change the way that we think about our circumstances. Reframing is such a powerful tool in therapy. Reframing is basically finding a more positive alternative. Within my many roles as therapist, wife, mother, and friend, I am inspired by stories of resilience during stressful and traumatic times–how connection and reframing circumstances can help move one to surviving and dare I might say thriving? During this time of sheltering at home. Stories about finally reducing clutter in homes, exercising to attain that ideal body, or finding a yoga practice that was well-intentioned  but never put into action. This has been a time of deepening our connections, slowing down the pace of our lives, finding moments for more family dinners, cooked at home and shared around a dining table. The opportunities to heal and find time for reflection and meaning making are there for many of us, each day, as we practice following our “at home “ schedules and try to embrace the new normal of this life.
Yet, many of us, despite steps taken to regain a sense of control and normalcy in our lives still struggle with staying positive.
Author Indra Aimee Rae, in an article she wrote about our cultural obsession with staying positive, suggests that this obsession may be shaming and may silence those who are suffering alone in their homes, or in their mental illness.
Not everyone has adequate social or financial support and those with mental illness are especially vulnerable when there are less protective factors. What humanity needs from us is to be patient, aware, and willing to hold space for those who need us. Let’s talk to one another about all of our feelings and experiences and allow others to hold our fear and come alongside us, step-by-step, day-by-day, as we build community to strengthen our community. Being able to share our proud moments, day-to-day struggles, and fears of the unknown is truly therapeutic. The hope is that we do it with humanity and that we honor everyone’s journey. Afterall, we are all experiencing this collective vulnerability, and as we walk through this to the other side, the true measure of our success will be our humanity, our resilience and our kindness.

Acknowledging Your Anxiety

3 Steps to Help you feel more in control of your anxiety



I’ve been talking with my clients a lot recently about how to manage anxiety and stress. We’re all experiencing probably a higher level of anxiety than what we’re used to. Some people have a lot of skills for managing that and some of us don’t… Watch the video for more…

I Don’t Feel Safe at Home : Domestic Abuse + Quarantine

I don’t feel safe at Home : Domestic Abuse + Quarantine


Increased stress with job loss, lack of finances, kids home from school, and social isolation can create an even more volatile home environment for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Mental health challenges, drinking and drug use can also create more intense home situations. These factors combined with police calls related to domestic violence is raising concerns. Governor Tim Walz highlighted Domestic Violence in his daily COVID-19 briefing Monday. Two-thirds of the police calls over the weekend were domestic violence related,” Walz said. “We need to talk about this”. 


The statistics around domestic violence are staggering. According to the Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody, it is estimated that between 3.3 million and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year. For those who are victims and survivors of domestic violence, school, work, and community gathering places are often places of refuge. With the shelter in place restrictions currently in effect, there are increased concerns of the implications of being in quarantine with an abuser. Social isolation and controlled access to resources are two areas of concern. This can make it more difficult to know that there is help for those impacted by domestic violence or make it harder to reach out for help. It is important to know that resources are available.


It takes courage and strength to reach out for help. Emotions such as fear, guilt, or shame can make seeking help feel more challenging. It is important to remember that abuse is not your fault. There is free and confidential help available both locally and nationally.


Working with an advocate can help victims and survivors of domestic violence know what to do to keep themselves and other family members safe. Parents should be talking to their children so that they know what to do to keep safe such as where to go and how to dial 911. It is important that children understand the plan as to not be unintended victims of violence.


Calling a domestic violence crisis hotline can provide additional support and provide you with options and offer connection to resources such as housing options, mental health, and legal resources such as how to obtain an order for protection https://dayoneservices.org/order-for-protection/.

Minnesota Domestic Violence Day One Crisis Hotline: 866-223-1111; Text 612-399-9995. https://dayoneservices.org/
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (24 hour hotline) https://www.thehotline.org/
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine



Our need for human connection is so powerful that it is essential to our physical and mental well-being. In fact, there is a neurobiological link in which we are “hard-wired” for connection. Now more than ever we need friendship. Not only does it help deter from social isolation, it helps boost mood, has physical health benefits, aids in positive coping, provides emotional support and encouragement, and can motivate us towards success. 
 
Many people are finding some creative ways to create social connections through quarantine. Check out these ideas on ways to connect (or-reconnect) with others. 
 
Ideas to Form New Social Connections
  • Identify areas of interest and possible opportunities for connection. Check out opportunities online or ask others for ideas or invites to existing groups. If no group exists, consider starting your own!
  • Strike up a conversation and develop friendships with fellow online gamers.
  • Join a support connection group. NAMI offers connection groups, LGBTQ+ connection groups, young adult connection groups, and parent groups.
  • Find a way to make a difference in your community by giving back to local businesses. Get to know the names of those you encounter from a safe distance.  
  • Let others you newly “meet” know you listen and care. Pay attention to details of their lives such as children’s names, pet’s names, hobbies, and interests.
 
Ideas to Maintain Current Social Connections or Reconnect
  • Check in with friends and family, especially those who may be more prone to social isolation through phone calls or virtual meetings.
  • Mail a letter or care package that includes a note of gratitude or personalized gifts such as a handmade craft.
  • Create fun things to share on social media that can help boost mood and provide some comedic relief.
  • Maintain participation in groups such as educational groups, business networking, faith and community-based groups, physical, and social activities in a virtual environment.
  • Set up a virtual coffee hour, lunch hour meeting, date, or happy hour with friends, family, or colleagues. Get creative with virtual backgrounds to create a fun environment that matches the meeting.
  • Arrange to walk at the same place at the same time. Smile and wave at each other from afar while talking on the phone.
  • Go through your contact list. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative to let your friends, family, co-workers, and contacts know that you are thinking of them.
  • Follow up with those who reach out to you.
Ideas to Connect with Others at Home
  • Take advantage of more time at home you may have with family or roommates and invest in those relationships.
  • Develop a deeper emotional bond with your partner by being available and curious about their thoughts and feelings. Share your hopes and dreams.
  • Set aside time in your daily schedule opportunities to connect. Creating fun rituals within mealtime such as “Taco Tuesdays” or a “Family Potluck” where each person draws an item to make (e.g. appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert) can make these times feel more fun and encourage interaction.
  • With so many of our connections online, try tech-free options at home to bring others closer without distractions such as family game night or scavenger hunt challenge. Take time to just sit and talk. Laugh together.
 
Some final thoughts…
Professional counseling help may be beneficial if barriers such as social anxiety/ fear of judgment or decreased interest or pleasure impacted by depression are present and impacting the ability to connect.
For those of you who find yourselves as the person that everyone seeks for support but may be experiencing emotional exhaustion, take time to take care of yourself and create boundaries while balancing home, work/ school, and interpersonal relationships.
If you are enjoying your time on quarantine but feel guilty about this, know that it is OK to hold space for conflicting feelings.
For those of you who struggle with seeking out support or asking for help, now is a good time to practice! Just knowing that we have a need for connection and that many are struggling with social isolation can help.

Mindfulness in the Midst of a Pandemic


Mindfulness in the Midst of a Pandemic


As a therapist, people tend to look to me for answers. We ask the questions to gain understanding and help guide and walk with people on their journeys. In the midst of a pandemic, how does that work though? That is a question I have been asking myself over the past couple of weeks in the midst of the chaos. The truth? I am sitting with you and beside you in the chaos with little to no insight or knowledge on the COVID-19 pandemic.

What does this mean as a client who is coming to outpatient therapy seeking answers to unknown circumstances? It means that all of us, as therapists at CARE Counseling, are doing our best to be supportive of the struggles that are being faced as we face them ourselves. I have found that the advice I can give is the advice I am trying to take for myself and learn from. Here are the three questions I am challenging myself with, encouraging my clients to explore, and would give to anyone I love to challenge themselves with.

  • What do I currently have control over? In a pandemic, there is a loss of control that is unexplainable. It is a great time to remind ourselves that even when we feel overwhelmed by the things we DON’T have control over, we also have things that we DO have control over. I have control over how I will spend my time. I have control over my emotional reactions. I have control over my sleep hygiene and diet. What do you have control over right now?
  • How can I make a valuable connection with someone this week? Social distancing is a difficult situation. We are social creatures that crave attachment, understanding, and comfort from others. How do we make connections when we have to be six feet apart or have Stay at Home orders? I have found that video chatting with friends, family, and loved ones has been extremely valuable during this time. Another thing that has been valuable for me is bringing back the lost art of snail mail – what an intimate way to communicate without seeing someone!
  • What am I grateful for? I tried to save the best for last – this one may just also be the most challenging question. In the midst of job losses, furloughs, out of stock grocery aisles, and constant media coverage of deaths and newly stricken ill numbers, it can be difficult to find the good. Let’s take just one minute to focus and really find the good. Why? Because now, more than ever, we need to continue hoping and being grateful for who we are, where we are, and what we are still capable of.

So what am I grateful for? I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful that I have clients who I care about deeply, who have kept appointments to show they support and care for me. I am grateful for my family and friends. And sometimes, in the midst of the confusion, doubt, and difficulties, I am grateful I made it out of bed and started the day. Gratefulness is not always a grand gesture or act that we have experienced – sometimes it is the moment of quiet in the day.

What would happen if we all took just five minutes to reflect on these three questions in the midst of this pandemic? Let’s find out together.



4 Mindfulness | Meditation Apps with FREE Tools for Pandemic Anxiety:

Pandemic-Related Anxiety


Pandemic-Related Anxiety


We are in the midst of a “global pandemic” that is impacting mental health worldwide. Feelings of increased stress, anxiety, and depression are now a new “normal baseline” for a population finding themselves faced with fear and uncertainty. Scroll through your social media and news feeds and we are bombarded with messages of social distancing, stockpiling supplies, sanitation, death tolls and sickness. Continue scrolling to see countless stories about the state of the economy, job loss, and stimulus relief. We view images of of empty streets, people in face masks, workers in hazmat suits, and overrun hospitals. If reading this does not already create some level of anxiety, put yourself in the position of those who already struggled with pre-existing mental health conditions.


Imagine someone who can’t stand being alone with their anxious thoughts but was coping fairly well with a job in the service industry and connecting outside of work with friends which provided a nice distraction. Or the individual who is newly sober and prone to relapse during times of social isolation. Imagine the individual who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and the impairment around obsessive fear of germs and cleaning rituals. The business owner who has invested so much of their self and self-worth into the success of a business that has closed its doors.


Many of us may recall thoughts, feelings, and images with similar pandemic-related experiences such as the terror attacks on 9/11. I know that I can personally recall exactly where I was and who I was with when the Twin Towers fell. It was an emotional experience. Not only me, but for everyone else I was with that day. I empathized with those on the front lines and the many victims of such a horrific event as I do now. As a mental health professional, I listen to the stories of survival, process thoughts and feelings, and aid with coping so one can thrive despite the chaos and trauma.


We are in this together–a collective experience with Corona Virus. There are things outside of our control but there are many things that we can choose. Like choosing to be informed and make smart choices for our health and safety, choosing what sources to trust, and choosing to take control of areas in which we can make a positive impact. We can also actively take preventative health care steps by taking advantage of the free and available resources such as online support, apps, helplines, and telehealth services for mental health.


We are resilient. We can and will get through this.


Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985- 5990 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.