Category Archives: MHS News

8 TIPS to Help Clients Do Homework

Posted June 6, 2018

 

Dr. Lane P.: Hi, I’m Dr. Lane Pederson. One of the most common questions I get from participants in my seminars is, How do I get clients to do homework? In this short video, I’m going to share with you eight tips that I find to be very effective.

Dr. Lane P.: Now, the first one is simply changing the name. I often times say the word “homework” when I talk to other therapists, but I rarely use that word when I’m working with clients. Instead, I might say, “Let’s do a task.” or “Let’s do an experiment.” Sounds kind of fun. Or I might simply say, “Let’s do our skill practice.” Sometimes, just changing the name can make all the difference. I’ve met so many clients who are just simply allergic to the word “homework”.

Dr. Lane P.: The second tip is really important. At the beginning of therapy, I always want to orient and educate my client about why homework is important to them. Why do they need to practice these skills, or why do they need to practice what we learned in session between sessions? An analogy I like to use is: To not practice between session is a lot like going to a personal trainer and talking about exercising but not actually exercising between those sessions. You’re just not going to reach your goals. It really is about plugging into what’s important to clients. Where do they want to be in life? What does recovery look like? What do they want to accomplish? You explicitly make that connection between skill practice and what it is that they desire, what they want.

Dr. Lane P.: The next idea is to always include clients in coming up with ideas for skills practice or tasks, or experiments. A lot of times, we therapists think that we need to generate all of the ideas, but our ideas for what might be helpful in terms of homework might not resonate with some of our clients. So, instead of doing homework to clients, I like to think about doing homework with clients and spending some time with having them come up with what they think would be helpful to do between sessions.

Dr. Lane P.: Which leads us to the next tip, which is: if you want clients to do homework or tasks or experiments between sessions, it’s good to initiate that skills practice in session. So for example, if I want a client to practice guided imagery, we’re going to practice guided imagery in session. If it’s important for a client to fill out an application before the next session, I might have the client just start to fill out the first parts of the application in the session with me. There’s something about breaking the ice in session with homework that gets clients motivated to complete and to finish it between sessions outside of our time together.

Dr. Lane P.: The next idea is to take one problem or opportunity and play it off of another. So for example, let’s say that you have a client who would like to walk to get some self care exercise in and the client also would like to socialize more to decrease isolation. You can set it up so if you don’t do one, you need to definitely commit to doing the other, so in this case, if the client didn’t go for the walk, he or she would definitely need to call a friend or to get out and socialize in one way or another. It’s a strategy that works really well.

Dr. Lane P.: Related to this strategy is another one which is simply making it a game. So, if you have a dichotomous choice like doing a fun activity versus taking care of a task at home, more of a responsibility, you can simply flip a coin. Heads you do one, tales you do the other. Or if you and the client have brainstormed lots of ideas, simply draw a cards. So, one skills practice might be associated with hearts, another one with clubs, another one with spades, and so on.

Dr. Lane P.: The seventh tip that I have is using the Premack principle. The Premack principle means that you make performing a high probability behavior contingent on performing the low probability behavior first. We sometimes call this grandma’s rule. Grandma’s rule is this. When you eat your vegetables, then you can go out and play. So with the Premack principle, let’s say I have a client who turns on the television every night. He or she really loves to watch evening television. I might say, “I want you to do your skills practice and then you can turn on the television.” Of course, many of us naturally do this Premack principle. You know, I need to return my emails and then I can surf the internet. It’s such a great strategy because the reinforcement is built-in.

Dr. Lane P.: And now, for the very last tip … and this one I think is the heaviest hitter. It is so important to simply schedule it. A lot of clients don’t complete their homework simply because they haven’t thought about where and when they’re going to complete it.

Dr. Lane P.: There was a study that happened many years ago and in this study, there was one group of people who agreed to do a task. They were committed to doing it. The second group of people were also committed, but that group also determined when and where they were going to complete the task. They completed it 80% more of the time. Hey, think about you or me. A lot of us don’t complete what would be important to do in life simply because we don’t write it down, we don’t commit to it in the schedule. So, taking a little bit of time to schedule homework is going to make all of the difference for your clients.

Dr. Lane P.: I hope these eight tips help you out a lot and, more importantly, help out your clients.

Dr. Lane P.: Thank you for joining me.

 

DBT at the Top of The World

Posted September 8, 2016

by Dr. Lane Pederson

Training professionals in DBT has brought me to amazing places with opportunities to meet truly wonderful people. In the past year I trained a grateful audience in Mexico and experienced Mex-ican culture and urban life not seen within resort destinations, passing my free time in community spaces teaming with people young and old playing sports, laughing, and visiting. I also visited Australia for the third time, this time having familiar and favorite restaurants, botanical gardens, landmarks, and jazz clubs to venture back to during the nearly month-long stay. In between these international destinations I dropped into places both rural and metropolitan across the con-tinental United States, always looking to get out and about to meet people and see the sites. However, perhaps the most unique destination I visited this year was Barrow, Alaska, where I provided a DBT training for Arctic Women in Crisis.

Barrow is unlike any other place I have visited. Located at the top of Alaska within the Arctic Circle on the Arctic Ocean, Barrow is accessible only by plane. The landscape is tundra, with not a tree or hill in sight, and none of the roads within this town of 4500 are paved because of the permafrost. The population is 65% Inupiat Eskimo, whose ancestors have occupied semi-permanent settlements in this region for thousands of years including a 1500 year time period that overlapped with woolly mammoths! Mammoth tusks and artifacts are on display in various places around town along with whale bones, walrus tusks, bison skulls, and the various pelts that come from native animals including wolves and polar bears. Surprisingly (to me), Barrow is also home to 185 species of birds that can be viewed in the tundra during the summer months, which makes this area a destination for bird watchers.

The weather in Barrow is cold and windy, which is an understatement. During my stay in mid-April, the high temperatures were in the single digits but the wind chills were around negative 25. Being a Minnesotan, I braved the cold and walked around Barrow, usually staying out for only 30 to 35 minutes at a time before the cold winds blew me back inside. I have not been cold like that for a long time, bringing back distant memories of being a kid outside in the middle of winter, having wandered too far from home, and trudging slowly back only after realizing the sting of frostbite setting into numb extremities. The cold and wind in Barrow did the same, chilling my bones, numbing my face, hands, and legs, and making my eyes water. And this was April weather! During the coldest times the air temperature can be negative 50 (or below!) without the wind chill, and “summer” really does not get much warmer than the 40s. Aside from a few heavily bundled children playing and an occasional person passing on a snow machine, four-wheeler, or in a pickup, I was the only person out wandering what seemed in many ways like a ghost town. The solitude made me long for the warmer months here, when the community is out and about after a long winter that has over 60 days of darkness (one therapist characterized the darkness as a beautiful indigo, and of course the northern lights are beyond incredible during the darkest time of year). Contrasting the winter months, the height of the whaling seasons in spring and fall bring excitement and celebration, and during the summer months the community holds vibrant outdoor gatherings, tossing one another into the air from blankets, and soaking in the Midnight Sun from May through August.

The houses in Barrow are modest, usually no more than hundreds of square feet in space sitting on blocks, often occupied by full families. Most houses are in some state of disrepair, with peel-ing paint, boarded windows, and makeshift repairs. Old cars and trucks, snow machines, and other broken down things, like appliances, grills, and other household items are frequent sights around town. Barrow is much closer to the North Pole than to a Home Depot, so basic supplies are hard to come by and are extraordinarily expensive. Fixing up your home, should the weather be nice enough, is a luxury, as is tending to your yard. Nonetheless, there is a certain attraction in seeing the natural cycle of things, and I was reminded of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, a philosophy in which one finds beauty in decline, knowing that rebirth in everything happens in time. I found the surroundings fascinating with a simple beauty that held my interest much more than fancier but more pedestrian places. It is a place where community is much more valuable than possessions.

Eventually I gathered enough courage to walk to the edge of Barrow, over the snow drifts, across the beach, and out onto the ice covering the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Why courage? For one, fear of polar bears. Although polar bears rarely come into town, they can certainly be out on the ice, and when they are roaming toward the beach they are likely hungry. One of the therapists at my training is married to a whaling captain who had just killed a polar bear the night before. The bear had been following him and the confrontation was inevitable. This bear was processed and every part of it used. However, I had no use for a bear, no gun, and no Arctic experience passed down through the generations to me, so I felt a bit like dinner. I also sus-pected that having to spot a polar bear on a totally white landscape could put the bear at an ad-vantage, as would its ability to move quickly on the ice. Somehow knowing that these bears usually swipe with the left paw, which is why hunters approach them from the right, seemed more like trivia then any useful survival ploy to me.

The other dangers on the ice are that there may be a fissure that you could fall through or that the chunk you are standing on could break free and move out into the ocean. The ocean ice is constantly moving and changing creating unseen dangers to people without experience. Inupiats know over a dozen “types” of ice and what dangers to look for when traveling on it. This knowledge is essential since in the event of a fissure or drift you would for die from the elements or be food. Although these calamities were low probability events, I still stayed relatively close to shore even though I was tempted to walk further out. In a brief amount of time, the cold and wind motivated me to turn back toward the safety of town, feeling awe that whaling captains and their crews had recently set up camps on the ice sheets with the beginning of whaling season.

Whaling is an ancient and primary form of subsistence for many families here, and it is central to the cultural identity of Barrow. The Inupiat treat whales with great reverence, and because whal-ing is for subsistence only, you cannot buy whale meat or get it in a restaurant. A therapist whose family is native to Barrow, Daisy, brought me a snack of raw whale skin and blubber along with raw whale meat. To have an opportunity to try food that is so meaningful to their community was an honor, and it was both delicious and a highlight of my visit.

Like Daisy, the people of Barrow are kind and friendly, with gentle demeanors that sharply con-trast the harsh elements in which they live. However, the time of year decreased opportunities to talk with many people other than the therapists and advocates at the training, a group who are extraordinary dedicated to the work they do on the North Slope. The therapists and advocates are a diverse team with some who grew up in Barrow or other parts of Alaska and others moved here from the lower 48 and from other countries. Those who immigrated came from warmer climates and communities that had access to music, entertainment, sports, fine dining, and relia-ble cell phone and internet service…the trappings that many of us take for granted. When I asked many of the therapists who moved here, “Why Barrow?,” that simple question resulted in a variety of polite answers that all seemed to boil down a calling to be here.

I guess that is why I came too, if only for a short visit. Barrow is a place unlike any other in the world, with an exceptional climate and location that is inhabited by people with an amazing herit-age that goes back thousands of years. I started to miss Barrow as I boarded the plane on my long journey back to warm Minnesota, and I hope to be back again someday. In summer.

MHS Clinical Director Elected to be President of the Minnesota Psychological Association

Posted December 14, 2015

MHS’ own Dr. Steve Girardeau was recently elected to be the President of the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) for the 2017 calendar year. Serving as the President-Elect this coming year, Steve will assist the current president and serve on the executive committee.

During his presidential year, Dr. Girardeau will organize a Presidential Conference on the topic of his choice, as well as inform and promote the many causes that influence mental health care in the State of Minnesota and beyond.

We are proud of Steve and wish to recognize this defining accomplishment! The MPA, Minnesota, and the many people affected by mental illness both directly and indirectly will benefit from his advocacy and expertise.

Congrats Dr. Girardeau!

5 DBT Skills to Enjoy the Holidays

Posted November 18, 2015

Finding yourself or your clients stressed out and dreading the holidays? While many struggle through the holidays, that doesn’t mean we are powerless to use our skills. Building on our 5 skills to survive the holidays blog, we offer 5 more skills to actually enjoy the season. Here they are:

1. Build Positive Experience (BPE):
BPE starts with being mindful of positive events that are happening all around us. Often we miss opportunities for fun or connection because we are lost in our problems and worries. Time to awaken and take advantage of positives that are possible now. Listen to favorite holiday music, watch time-honored movies, and commit yourself to investing in the season. Make sure to schedule times to get out and about to get-togethers, community functions, services, and other events that pop up during the season. BPE takes investment, planning, follow-through, and sometimes a dose of opposite-to-emotion too!

2. Attend to Relationships (A2R):
A2R is a specialized type of BPE. Relationships are like plants in that they need to be watered or they wither. The holidays are the perfect time to send cards, pictures, or to write a meaningful note or letter. Connect by phone, Skype, or in person if possible. Take extra time to let others know that they matter to you.

3. Contributing:
Surprise a friend, loved one, or co-workers with cookies or another treat. Participate in parties and events in whatever way you can…even your presence is contributing. If you are able, consider volunteering your time with any organization that helps those less fortunate, or take time to set aside and donate items you no longer need. Support an organization like Toys for Tots or volunteer to be a Salvation Army bell ringer. Whenever you can, think about how you can give, which is a true meaning of the season.

4. Self-Soothe:
Get into your senses. The holidays are filled with sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that are pleasing to our senses. Connect mindfully to these moments, and allow yourself to relax into what the holidays have to offer.

5. Participate:
Participate is a core mindfulness skill, and it means fully immersing yourself in what you are doing in the moment. Truly inhabit each experience with your full self, gently letting go of distractions to get back to being with what you are doing and who you are with during this season. Remember that we can participate in stress and misery, or in the many opportunities for joy that the season can offer us.

MHS welcomes new practicum students and interns…our biggest training group yet!

Posted September 8, 2015

MHS is proud to welcome our largest group of social work, counseling, and psychology practicum students and interns this fall. Committed to excellence in training, MHS is a member of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) and has both new and longstanding relationships with Minnesota universities. While our goal is to provide a rich and diverse training environment for future therapy professionals, we find that practicum students and interns in turn enrich our therapists and improve our client services.

To explain, we have compiled the Top 5 Reasons Why Being a Training Center Improves Client Care:

1. Training brings increased energy and focus to providing top notch client care. With each fresh group of trainees all of our therapists recalibrate on what it meets to be a professional role model and mentor…making our therapists more effective!
2. Mentoring and supervising practicum students and interns keeps licensed therapists up-to-date with best practices and constantly growing in their occupation. Trainees have been taught the latest developments in therapy and come ready to ask questions and apply their knowledge. Our tenured therapists grow by meeting the challenges of developing the next generation of therapists.
3. Each new training cycle brings with it new growth and regeneration of MHS’ values and commitment to clients and excellence in programming. Training centers can never stagnate, but must constantly improve training and client services to stay relevant and effective. Many times our trainees have taken lead roles in developing new services and programs, such as our innovative Thrive Program.
4. Trainees add to our therapists’ job satisfaction and decrease burnout by providing energy and enrichment opportunities for our therapists. Happier therapists who enjoy their work can deliver more to our clients!
5. Practicum students and interns often become future MHS employees. Over 80% of our therapists have had training experiences with MHS, creating a therapeutic team centered on the same values and pulling in the same direction…the lifeblood of a strong organization.

MHS is grateful to embark on a new year of training with our practicum students and interns…the future of our field!

Exciting things are happening in September!

Posted August 4, 2015

This September, MHS will sponsor a training teaching techniques for adapting Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for children and adolescents with Dr. Eboni Webb.  Free breakfast and a free DBT textbook will be shared.  Register today to reserve your seat and obtain 6.5 CEHs.

MHS will also attend the 2015 Community Mental Health Conference (MACMHP) in Duluth followed by the annual Minnesota Counseling Association Conference (MnCA) in Shoreview.  Be sure to stop by our exhibit booths and introduce yourself if you’re in the area!  We’re eager to meet fellow providers and learn about the services you and your team provide to enhance client care and collaboration!

Lastly, don’t miss NAMIWalks Minnesota on Saturday, September 26th!  MHS is teaming up to support efforts to enhance treatment and recovery for individuals with mental illness.  Get moving to raise funds and build awareness one step at a time!

We hope to see you next month!

Dr. Pederson with PrairieCare Education Series (PES) May 7th, 2015

Posted May 6, 2015

Lane Pederson, PsyD, LP, DBTC will speak on Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Adolescents: DBT Principals, Skills, and Techniques in Practice as part of the PrairieCare Education Series (PES).

WHEN: 5/7/15 from 9am to Noon

WHERE: Mount Zion Synagogue in St. Paul

3 CE credits and breakfast for $20 cash or check at the door.

Click HERE to register.

Attention MSW Students!

Posted April 2, 2015

If you are looking for a concurrent field placement in the Fall, be sure to stop by the Field Fair on Monday! We look forward to meeting you and answering any questions you may have about our clinic and the services we provide.

When: Monday, April 6th from 3- 5pm
Where: University of Minnesota Coffman Memorial Union

For additional information, visit: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/current/msw/Field/field-fair.asp