Monday, December 1, 2014

Expressing Gratitude

It is the day after Thanksgiving, and I am sitting at the office and reflecting on the day. I could not help but think about the concept of gratitude and thankfulness. I have been seeing many Facebook posts of friends and acquaintances giving thanks for things throughout the month of November and have enjoyed reading them all. As a psychologist, it made me wonder about the effects of being grateful. Anecdotally, I know that concepts like gratitude must help with happiness and overall well being, but I was pretty sure that it also must be empirically supported as well.

I found an article examining the link between Gratitude and Well Being (Sansone & Sansone, 2010) and wanted to share some of the results here. First, it is important to look at how they define gratitude in their article. They defined gratitude as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. Sansone and Sansone (2010) then also listed a handful of studies that demonstrated that gratitude is linked to more positive well being. One of the studies showed that a group journaling about things they were grateful for, had higher well being scores than those that journaled about either negative life events or neutral life events. A similar study showed that this same result held true for adolescents and another study demonstrated that it held true for adults in Taiwan.

Looking at these results, it makes me think of my own way of expressing gratitude to others, but also recognizing it internally. Although these studies do not directly examine the link between posting about your gratitude on Facebook and higher well being, the idea would make it think that it may hold true. It left me wondering if in our own lives, it may be nice to stop each day and think of one or two things you are thankful for today. Some people may write them down for others to see, some may write them down for themselves, and some may just hold them in their heart....but all could have a positive effect.

Thanksgiving is a time to think of gratitude and thankfulness, but I am hoping that it is something that I and others think about throughout the year and not for just one month or around one holiday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall in Minnesota

Hello All:

It has been a while since I have written. There are multiple reasons for this, including getting busier at Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd., guests visiting, and the most importantly...enjoying the beautiful Minnesota fall weather. Being away from the midwest, I forgot the absolute beauty of a Minnesota fall. I feel that many Minnesotans are getting all they can from the outdoors, as we all know that winter is not far away.

So how does enjoying the fall weather relate to mental health? The concept that comes to my mind, is the ability to stay present. Staying present is so helpful in managing anxiety, depression, trauma, and many other disorders. Staying present looks different for all of us, but the main thing is to stay in the moment...not thinking about the past and not worrying about the future. While you are outside you can make sure to stay present by focusing on all five of your senses. Smell the fresh air, feel the fall breeze, see the fall colors, taste the pumpkin spice treat, and touch the leaves beneath your feet. Focusing on your senses brings you to the here and now!

This fall I have been practicing what I preach. I have been trying to be present. As I have been training for my first half marathon, I have been doing my runs without my headphones. I have gone to new parks and new trails to do my runs, and I have done my best to just focus on what I see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. I encourage everyone to try it and encourage everyone to get out and explore! Spend a few minutes with yourself and taking in the present moment.

If you are not able to get outside, or if the weather has turned to winter...there are other ways to find your calm. One resource that can be helpful is Take time to go through their guided calms and find your own way to achieve peace and calm. 

Until next time,

Robert L. Reis II, Ph.D., LP
Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Visiting The Aliveness Project

Coming up with the next blog topic is something that I am often thinking about. It does not always come easy, but there are things that just keep coming up in your memory. That is what brought me to my topic today, I just keep thinking back to Dr. Kim's and my visit to The Aliveness Project a couple of weeks ago.

Starting a Private Practice involves a lot of new things and a few different strategies to get your name out there. One of the strategies that we used at Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd. was to send introduction letters with our brochures and business cards. One of our targets was to find organizations and community agencies that work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender individuals, as this is a specialty area for both of us at TCPS. The letter went out to many people and it is unknown of how it was received or if there will be any connection. That is not the case for all of the letters sent.

One of the letters made it to the desk of a case manager at The Aliveness Project and she contacted us to come down and visit. Dr. Kim and I did not know what to expect, and scheduled a trip down to the center located in South Minneapolis. We both left there very impressed and very excited about the work that is being done in the Minneapolis area. I'm not sure what makes things happen, but I am very thankful that we sent a letter to the Aliveness Project, as I think it is an agency that changes peoples lives and that I am ecstatic to be connected to.

So what was it that impressed me about our visit. The first thing that stood out to me was the beautiful facility. It had so much light and so much space that was all designed for their members. We checked in at the front desk and immediately felt welcomed. The staff was all so friendly. We were also excited to have the case manager that arranged our visit to take us around to meet all the staff, see the whole facility, and meet with the case managers to discuss how our practice could be helpful to them and how they could refer their members to us.

So the members of The Aliveness Project is anyone that presents that has a diagnosis of HIV/Aids. The members have access to so many services all within one building. We learned about the use of their library and computers, the lunch and dinner that is provided Monday - Friday, the food shelf that offers non-perishable foods as well dairy and refrigerated items. Then we went upstairs and found a space dedicated to massage and acupuncture, met with a nutritionist that helps members understand how their nutrition and their medication interact, and met the staff that is involved in outreach to the community. There was so much going on in one building, and all focused on a community that may often be stigmatized or isolated. It was inspiring and left me thinking of ways that I could let people know about this wonderful agency and how they can help....which led me to this blog post.

Dr. Kim and I are excited to be working together to provide two different staff developments in the next couple of months for the staff of the Aliveness Project. We look forward to going back and spending and getting to know the staff even more. We also were informed of some of the fundraisers that are put on by the Aliveness Project. There is information about ways to volunteer and also about their events that help them fund all their great work. Some exciting upcoming events include their annual Holiday Basket drive and A Taste for Life. Check them out and see how you can get connected with the Aliveness Project.

Wrapping this post up, I think it is important to share the strong commitment that Dr. Kim and I both have to social justice and working to help build community in the broadest sense. Psychologists have a responsibility to help their clients, but also have a responsibility to work to strengthen communities. It is exciting that as Dr. Kim and I get to know the resources of the Minneapolis area that we will continue to find ways to help make Minneapolis a better place for all of us to live, as it is apparent that there are people all over our community doing this as their daily work!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Back to College

Driving down University Avenue is something that I do on a regular basis, but I don't always go all the way to the U. Yesterday, I had a meeting at the University and it was as exciting as I had expected to be back on campus. University Avenue and campus was bustling with all of the students going to class and the employees going to work. It was a city to itself, and it brought me back to my days at the University of Minnesota. It's amazing how just a few experiences, can bring back so many positive emotions and memories from the past.

Colleges have been a part of my life for many years, 17 to be exact. It all started in September, 1997 when I first arrived at the University of Minnesota. I'll remember many things from that first year and the following three years, as it truly was a special experience for me. It is funny, that although since that time I have been at many other colleges...I still compare all of the colleges to the U. I have had great experiences at the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, University of Missouri, Loyola College in Maryland, and the College of William and Mary, but there is something special about the U of M!

So what is it about colleges that kept me either attending or working at them for the past 17 years. Well I think the main thing is the energy that is found on a college campus. It is palpable no matter what the size of the campus. The energy could be coming from many different things, and it may be depending on your perspective. For me the energy comes from the opportunity for people to come and learn new things, to expand their beliefs, and to meet people with all types of perspectives. From Grand Forks, ND to the U of M was a culture shock, but exactly what I needed to help me move to a deeper understanding of what diversity truly is.

Seventeen years on college campuses is a long time, and this fall it is my first year not working or attending college. I am still excited for this next step, but it definitely was great to be back. Dr. Kim and I were at the U of M to meet therapists at the Mental Health Clinic at Boynton Student Health. In this open house, we were hoping to share about why Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd. would be a great fit for many of their students. I personally am hopeful and excited for the possibility of working with students in our practice, as college students are a specialty area for my psychology practice that I hope to continue. It also will help me stay connected to my college roots.

I hope that all of you that have been to college long ago, or maybe in college now, take advantage of your local college or university. I know that even though I don't work there any more, I will be back at the U often. I will cheer on the Gophers at sporting events, I will attend theatre and dance events put on by the talented students, and I will go to lectures and presentations to expand my knowledge. Learning is life long and there are many opportunities to keep learning if you have a college or university in your backyard.

Until next time,
Robert L. Reis II, Ph.D., LP

Friday, September 5, 2014

Being Brave

At the beginning of August, Dr. Kim and I were in Washington DC for the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. We were together at a social to celebrate the Early Career Psychologists of the Society of Counseling Psychology. At this social, there was a portion of the evening that was used as an open mic night. I am not the type of person to get up and share a song or spoken word, but luckily there were other psychologists that were more than willing. One psychologist in particular stood out. She shared the song Brave by Sara Bareilles and had the audience get up and dance along. If you haven't seen the video, it will make more sense when you see  it.

It was after that song, that the psychologist asked people to come up and share their brave moment. She shared that she had been making an effort to be more brave in her every day life and encouraged others to do the same. Dr. Kim went up and shared that her brave moment was the decision for her and myself to relocate to Minneapolis and open up Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd. Since that day, in early August, I have been reflecting on small and larger ways that I have been brave and how others demonstrate bravery in their day to day interactions.

Of course, I agree that the biggest act of braveness that I have done in the past year or so is leaving my job at the College of William and Mary Counseling Center and moving back to Minneapolis to open a practice with a colleague and friend. There was much thought, planning, and decision making that went into the move...but at the end of the day it still took some bravery. So far we have spent hours and hours working to get on insurance panels, working to market our new practice, putting together Ikea furniture, and learning all about running a business. I have no doubt that all the work will pay off, and that clients will find a practice that really is focused on their well-being and providing them a safe, judgment free, and genuine space to do the work that helps them achieve their full-potential. 

There are smaller things that I have been thinking about that also reflect bravery. One of these smaller things is this blog. I have been thinking of blogging for months, but continued to have a hard time putting words onto the page. I'll be honest, much of the difficulty was related to self scrutiny. Will I write well enough? Will others be interested in what I have to say? Can I be myself and let some of my personality out in the blog and also demonstrate the professionalism that is important to me? These are all things I still wonder and even worry about as I write this first post....but I have decided to just dismiss these thoughts and push forward. I have decided that my writing likely will not be perfect and will have some errors, that not everyone will like what I have to say, and that I can be  myself on my blog and be professional.  I hope to use this blog to write about things that are relevant to my work as a psychologist, to comment on current events, to let you know about new and exciting things at Twin Cities Psychological Services, Ltd., and to just share interesting (to me) information. My goal is to post at least a few times a month (writing that here so that I have a visible commitment to others). I know that next week I will talk about colleges, especially since Dr. Kim and I will be traveling back to my alma mater for an open house. Can't wait to get back on the University of Minnesota campus, as I have so many positive memories from my time there. 

If you took time to read this far, thank you. I hope that you take time to check out the TCPS website and Facebook page as well. I also hope that you take time to think of things that you currently do that are brave. It could be something huge, or it could be something you do everyday. Some examples to get you thinking include calling someone out on an offensive joke, giving an opinion that does not match the thought of the group, taking a risk to introduce yourself to someone new, or speaking up in class or at work. Think of your brave moments and celebrate them! Maybe even dance along to Sara Bareilles!!

Until next time,
Robert L. Reis II, Ph.D., LP