Category Archives: Resources

Why Seeking Therapy is an Investment in You

Posted December 16, 2021

A new patient receives assessment from a licensed mental health professional from Mental Health Systems

According to a 2019 report from the Center for Disease Control, 9.5% of adults in the U.S. receive therapy or counseling provided by a mental health professional. Within two years, this number more than tripled, with a reported 30% of adults seeking out therapy services in 2020 and 2021. It’s no surprise that more people are investing in therapy — it’s gradually shifted from a taboo topic to a point of pride. Rather than feeling ashamed of mental health struggles, many people are happy to take the initiative in improving their own wellbeing — as they should. If you’re considering therapy but are unsure whether it’s the right choice, read on to see how mental health therapy may benefit you.

Is Psychological Therapy a Good Investment?

When considering therapy, one of the first questions you may ask is whether or not it’s a good investment. It’s a reasonable question, considering the fact that therapy can be expensive. Therapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 per session or more, which can quickly add up if you’re scheduling weekly appointments. Though some insurers offer mental health coverage, it’s often still difficult to obtain approval for therapy sessions in Apple Valley, MN.

Finances should never stand between you and your mental health, though. The benefits of accessible and affordable treatment are worth the effort it may take to find the right therapist. Therapy is ultimately an investment in yourself. If you are dealing with struggles such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, the impact can be monumental, causing a ripple effect of consequences throughout your life. Some of these repercussions can include:

  • Difficulty at work or inability to hold a job
  • Indulgence in unhealthy coping mechanisms
  • Alienation from friends, family, and loved ones
  • Deteriorating health and wellbeing
  • Development of self-destructive habits

If any of these experiences describe what you’re going through, there is help available. Therapy can alleviate these and other struggles by equipping you with the confidence and healthy coping mechanisms you need to overcome challenges. If you’re wondering if therapy is a good investment, consider the impact it could have on your life, and you’ll see the answer is yes. You and your well-being are worth investing in.

Is Therapy Worth My Time?

Money isn’t the only resource you’ll be investing when you commit to therapy. It’s important to consider, too, the time commitment that counseling requires. Most therapists recommend weekly sessions that are 45-minutes to an hour. In some cases, a therapist may even want to see you for appointments twice a week. In addition to the time spent in your sessions, it’s common for therapists to assign clients “homework” or reading to further apply the concepts discussed in appointments. Time spent completing these tasks can be several hours each week.

In total, you can reasonably expect to commit four to six hours per week to therapy and its related obligations. When weighing whether therapy is a good investment of your time, you must consider the total amount of time you have available in a given week. How many hours are spent in school or at work? How much time should you allot to social engagements? If you don’t have six hours to spare in your week, is there any obligation that you can reduce or remove from your schedule? Intentionally making time for therapy is the only way to see progress and ensure that your investment pays off.

Ultimately, whether therapy is a good investment of your time depends on how much time you’re willing to commit. Clients who attend weekly sessions but neglect to complete their therapist’s assignments are cheating themselves out of the payoff of their investment. Similarly, if you don’t make time to practice the principles discussed in sessions, you’re unlikely to see any fruit from your labor. The more time you are able and willing to put into therapy, the more likely your investment will be worthwhile.

How Do I Make Therapy Worthwhile?

Investing time is just one way that you can make therapy worthwhile. Many different therapy modalities rely on a range of different theories, but it will require effort on your part no matter which you choose. One of the most effective forms of therapy is dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. This form of therapy focuses on enhancing specific life skills, including interpersonal relationships and emotional regulation. DBT has been proven to be incredibly effective in improving clients’ wellbeing and mental health, but it’s only as effective as the effort you’re willing to put into it.

If you want to ensure that therapy is worthwhile, you can employ a few strategies to get the most out of each session. Some of these strategies include the following:

  • Ask for clarification from the therapist when you don’t understand
  • View therapy as a collaboration between you and your therapist
  • Do all of the reading and homework that’s assigned to you
  • Set specific goals and define how you intend to meet those goals

Each of these actions can massively improve the efficacy of your therapy and ensure that the investments you are making pay off. If it seems like your progress is slowing, revisit these principles and ensure you’re doing everything you can to be productive.

If you’re doing all of these things and you still feel as though you’re not making strides towards your mental health goals, it’s possible that you need to find a new therapist. Therapy is a relationship that requires understanding and empathy from both parties. Taking the time to find the right therapist is the best way to ensure that you’ll continue making mental health progress.

DBT Therapy Options for Mental Health

Mental health is a common point of discussion, but it can be hard to make the jump from talking to treatment. DBT is an accessible and effective therapy option that offers promising recovery for people suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a range of other mental health struggles. Mental Health Systems takes pride in providing our Apple Valley, MN clients with life-changing resources. Call us at (952) 835-2002 or request an appointment online.

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Staying Firm in Establishing Boundaries

Posted December 16, 2021

A stern young woman holds her hand out to stop someone and stays firm in her boundaries

We’re taught an array of practical life skills from childhood, such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, and driving. Rarely, though, are kids taught the skills of emotional regulation that help you build healthy relationships and protect your mental health. As you get older, the importance of these skills only becomes more apparent, but building them isn’t an easy task. How do you get better at assertion and self-confidence? Establishing healthy boundaries is one of the most important abilities a person can have. Learn how to develop this essential life skill and improve your mental wellbeing in the process in Apple Valley, MN.

How to Establish Boundaries

In psychology, a boundary is defined as an imaginary line marking a person’s limits. Establishing boundaries is a complex process. Though it happens in the context of communication with another person, it starts with you. Before you can set a boundary, you need to engage in honest introspection to determine its significance. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • How do I define this boundary for myself and others?
  • Why is it important for me to maintain this boundary?
  • How will I enforce this boundary in interactions with others?

Asking yourself questions such as these is the first step towards healthy and sustainable boundaries. There are many different areas of your life that you can and should set boundaries in. Some examples include:

  • Personal space
  • Emotions and ideas
  • Personal belongings
  • Sexual situations
  • Emotional and physical energy
  • Time-sensitive commitments
  • Cultural and religious issues

Each of these areas is a part of your life that you may handle differently than others do — and these differences can lead to interactions that feel disrespectful or violating if you don’t set clear boundaries with people.

Establishing boundaries offers a range of benefits to both you and those on the other side. One of the best benefits is the increase in self-esteem that often follows. Creating a boundary is a way of investing in yourself and preventing situations that may cause stress or harm. Boundaries also benefit relationships by establishing a line of communication between yourself and your partner. It also encourages those around you to be clear in their boundaries, thus creating an environment of mutual respect and open communication.

How to Set Boundaries

Once you’ve identified and established a boundary that’s important to you, maintaining it can be another separate challenge. Simply establishing your boundaries often isn’t enough. You will likely need to remind those around you about them, too. This can be difficult if you’ve never had a conversation about boundaries before, but it’s an important step in protecting your wellbeing. Maintaining boundaries requires that you be assertive, understanding, and communicative with the people who surround you.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to practice self-advocacy. Self-advocacy entails taking responsibility for your communication with others, voicing your concerns, and listening to others’ feedback. Most importantly, though, it is the explicit expression of your needs. If you are engaged in a project with somebody, for example, and they tell you that it will require a longer time commitment than you initially agreed to, this is an opportunity to practice self-advocacy. Keep the following principles in mind while doing so:

  • Be assertive without being aggressive
  • Be clear and direct when you state your needs
  • Do not feel pressured to justify your boundaries
  • Present with confidence and calmness

Maintaining your boundaries may take practice, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Remember, too, that people cannot read your mind — so if you do not make your boundaries known, the people around you may unknowingly violate them. This can lead to resentment and the breakdown of a relationship, so It’s vital to make your needs known before your boundaries become a source of conflict.

When to Push Back When People Disregard My Boundaries

Unfortunately, people will resist your boundaries, even if you convey them with respect and clarity. People do this for many reasons, but the result is the same regardless of the motive — you will find yourself at a crossroads. You will either fold to avoid confrontation, or you will need to find a way to reassert your boundaries. Neither of these options is easy, but it’s a situation you are likely to find yourself in if you are committed to setting boundaries with people.

Determining when to push back can be a complicated issue, though. If a friend asks you to stay five minutes longer than you’d planned to help finish a task, is this a violation of boundaries that’s worth acknowledging? The answer depends on the firmness of your boundaries. Sometimes it’s okay to maintain soft boundaries that are flexible based on the situation you’re in. Other times, you need to be firm for the sake of your safety and wellbeing. Determining the rigidity of your boundaries is essential to effectively enforcing them.

When you have rigid boundaries, and you encounter a person who continuously violates them, even after you’ve made your needs known, you can employ any of the following strategies:

  • Minimize the amount of time spent around that person
  • Avoid conversations and interactions with them
  • Hold them accountable by seeking support from others
  • Do not escalate the situation with emotional responses

No matter which approach you use, you should be clear with the person and communicate the consequences that will follow if they continue violating your boundaries. Still, some people are unable or unwilling to respect boundaries, no matter how clearly you state them. When dealing with people like this, you may have to find a way to remove them from your life.

Mental Health Support That Works

Establishing clear boundaries takes work, but you don’t have to do that work alone. Partnering with a mental health professional can help you develop the tools and confidence you need to protect your wellbeing more effectively. Mental Health Systems has been serving clients throughout Apple Valley, MN, since its founding in 2002. We offer dialectical behavioral therapy to help you overcome life’s challenges. Call us at (952) 835-2002 or schedule an appointment online.

Image Source: Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock

How to Be Alone but not Lonely

Posted October 22, 2021

A well dressed woman walks alone down a bridge on an overcast day as Mental Health Services explains how to spend your alone time and not feel lonely

There are times in life when you will have to spend more time on your own, without a partner, your children, other relatives, or friends nearby. Sometimes, you may find yourself alone after a spouse’s death, a pet’s passing, the end of a relationship, or your children going off to college or work. Or maybe you recently relocated to a new city and live alone for the first time in your life.

Feeling alone during some of life’s most challenging transitions is normal. The key to spending time alone in a healthy way is to focus on positive habits and emphasize self-care. It’s possible to be alone without experiencing loneliness. At Mental Health Systems, providers can work with clients in the Apple Valley, MN area to help reframe those time periods of being alone.

How To Be Alone and Not Feel Lonely

In the past two years, the social circle of friends and family members has tightened and closed up. With sporadic quarantines, pandemic shutdowns, more teleworking, and an increase in virtual events, there are more people than ever spending a lot of time alone. For some, this sharp increase in alone time has led to higher levels of stress and feelings of isolation. Adults, teens, and children have all reported more depression symptoms.

As society continues to look towards recovery after the pandemic, the stark reality is that for some, alone time is here to stay. Many workplaces and gathering places have changed permanently in favor of virtual options for sharing ideas and collaborating. Alone time is also pretty standard for empty nesters, widowers, and many elderly people across the country. At MHS in Apple Valley, MN, our approach to alone time is that it’s not about surviving the time you spend by yourself; it’s about thriving.

Thriving during your alone time means focusing on the positive side of having time by yourself. Your alone time can also allow you to develop better habits and practice mindfulness. When you’re feeling alone, you can reframe your attitude and work to combat loneliness or boredom. This is the time to start working on new skills, looking for new creative outlets, exploring your interests, and learning to love and care for yourself.

Signs of Loneliness

If you are often alone, you have to be careful not to confuse the ideas of feeling alone and lonely. Being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, loneliness can be a sign of a bigger issue or part of some common depression symptoms. A person experiencing loneliness may have insomnia, restlessness, irritability, and a lack of motivation. Being lonely doesn’t always mean you’re physically alone. Some people may be surrounded by friends and loved ones and still struggle with loneliness. MHS in Apple Valley, MN, offers resources and help if you are having difficulty with loneliness.

Activities To Keep You Feeling a Part of Your Surroundings

It’s important to be proactive, so your status of being physically alone doesn’t turn into sadness and loneliness. A great way to take action during your alone time is to take up new activities and hobbies. If you have a lot of extra time in your schedule, aim to fill some of the hours up with your passions and pursuits.

One healthy option is to get outside and try outdoor activities to get more in touch with your surroundings. If you spend all of your time indoors by yourself, you may have more negative thoughts about feeling alone. Instead, opt for a change in your scenery by taking walks regularly, buying a bike for exercise, or exploring local parks.

Alone time can also be broken up by pursuing your interests and hobbies. Use this time to develop a new skill, learn a new language, take a class, explore your city, or test out new restaurants and cafes in the Apple Valley, MN area.

It’s Okay To Be Alone, Do Things Alone, and Live Alone

It’s also important to keep in mind that being alone is okay. There’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of time by yourself. Getting used to being alone, doing things by yourself, and living on your own can be an adjustment if you’re used to always being around friends and family.

You also may be able to find some benefits in your new solo status. If you’ve always lived with a family, a partner, or your kids, the first time you live alone may be a little daunting. Eventually, many empty nesters or people living alone for the first time may start to really enjoy it. Living alone means you can decorate your space exactly how you like it. You can come and go as you please, and you don’t have to worry about catering to anyone else’s needs.

Doing things alone may also feel strange at first, but you can gain confidence in your time by yourself over time. Going out to eat by yourself can be liberating as you discover new places and new tastes. Solo travel is another activity that can open up a new world to someone who recently started living independently. Taking a trip on your own can help you learn more about yourself and unique destinations.

It’s Important To Stay Connected to the Outside/People/Neighborhoods

Also, just because you live alone or are an empty nester doesn’t mean you have to spend your time all by yourself. A great way to fend off any potential feelings of loneliness is to build connections with the people and organizations in your neighborhood. Getting a dog is one of the top ways to get yourself out there meeting new people. You and your pup can explore the area’s dog parks and connect with other dog owners in your neighborhood. At home, a new pet provides excellent company to someone living by themselves.

Another way to keep yourself from feeling alone and bored is to work on connecting with more people and rebuilding your social network. Look online for groups and clubs dedicated to your favorite activities and aim to meet up for local in-person events to meet new friends. You can also reach out to potential romantic partners and network with online dating tools.

Take time also to get involved in your community. Consider volunteering for a good cause in your city or town to help those in need. Doing regular volunteer work at the same organization can also help you expand your network of friends and acquaintances. Avoid relying too much on electronic devices to stay connected to friends and family. Instead, opt to talk face to face to those you care about so your bonds stay strong, and your relationships continue to grow.

Reach Out Today

Learning how to be alone and not feel lonely is not something that happens overnight. At Mental Health Systems, we can help you navigate this journey to self-realization during your alone time. We specialize in dialectical behavioral therapy for our clients. Contact us for more information about our services to help you thrive.


Image Source: Serkant Hekimci / Shutterstock

What are Eating Disorders and How Are They a Mental Health Concern?

Posted June 8, 2021

Eating disorders are mental health disorders and not just physical ailments.

  • Eating disorders involve unrealistic and unhealthy body image and relationship to food.
  • Anorexia is a type of eating disorder that includes an unhealthy perception of the body’s size and weight.
  • Bulimia is a kind of eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging.

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How to Choose the Right Therapist

Posted June 8, 2021

The help of a qualified therapist can help make the stresses of difficult times and day-to-day life more bearable.

  • You want to identify a therapist with whom you are comfortable sharing your most private thoughts.
  • When looking for a therapist, consider the credentials of the professional.
  • The most important part of the decision is whether or not you can form a productive therapeutic relationship with the therapist.

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When to Seek Help

Posted May 14, 2021

Determining when to ask for help with mental health challenges can be difficult. However, it’s essential to get the assistance you need.

  • If thoughts, feelings, or behaviors interfere with your ability to function, you may need professional help.
  • A qualified professional can use research-based tools to reach a diagnosis.
  • Look for someone who understands your culture and the unique challenges you face.

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How to Stay Positive During Times of Crisis

Posted April 9, 2021







What You’ll Learn:

As you read about how to stay positive during times of crisis, you’ll learn:

  • Maintaining positive mental health amid a crisis can be difficult.
  • MHS DBT & Mental Health Services can help you learn skills to make the best of adversity.

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The Triggers of PTSD

Posted April 9, 2021

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that occurs after a dangerous or painful event.
  • Most people who experience a traumatic event don’t develop PTSD, but those who do have significant challenges.
  • MHS DBT & Mental Health Services offers treatment services for those with PTSD triggers and symptoms.

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What is GRIT? – “Identification” – “Treatment”

Posted November 11, 2020

In our first article, we spoke about GRIT, which The National Council for Behavioral Health uses to describe the traits necessary to help children and youth with mental health challenges. GRIT stands for guts, resilience, identification, and treatment.

This article will continue by focusing on Identification and Treatment for youth dealing with mental health challenges. Continue reading

What is GRIT? – “Guts” – “Resilience”

Posted November 11, 2020

Adolescence is a time of transition and self-discovery and often fraught with stress and anxiety, even under the best conditions. For teenagers living with mental health challenges, the process of becoming an adult can be even more challenging to navigate. Professionals who work with adolescents living with a mental health diagnosis need a particular set of skills. Continue reading