Minneapolis, Minnesota based Counseling by phone from a Master’s in Counseling Psychology

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A division of Counseling for a Better Life, PLLC ​ |  counselingguidance.com

Counseling Tidbits

Healthy Relationship Skills Begin with Good Communication:

One of the key ingredients to having a Healthy Relationship with someone is developing Good Communications skills.  Here are some basic tips to good Communication. #1 is staying respectful. This means no swearing, name-calling or nasty put downs. This only raises the other person’s defenses and instead of listening to what you are saying they begin to design their own argument. Use very specific words, details and examples. Instead of saying,” I will be home a little late” replace that sentence with detailed speech like, “I plan to be home around 8 or 8:30 PM and if it will be later than that, I will call”.  Speak from your perspective….don’t assume what the other person is thinking or saying. Alternatively, tell the other person how you feel, think or see things. Finally, summarize what you heard the other person tell you. We often make assumptions or add context or meaning by hearing tone of voice or noticing body language.  Here is where a correction can be made if you got the wrong idea.

Would you like to learn more about Good Communication Skills?  Book a session, NOW!


A Top Relationship Tip:  Positive Communication Skills

Good communication is an essential skill in maintaining a healthy, happy relationship.  Being able to express yourself accurately to your partner reduces stress, problems and miscommunications that can lead to arguments. Here are two simple Tips that will help you more accurately communicate your thoughts:

#1) Make sure you add specific details or examples to your statements so your partner know exactly what you mean. Example: “I will be 2 hours late coming home from work” instead of” I will be a little late coming home tonight.”

#2) If the subject is important then ask your partner to summarize what they understood you to say. If they misunderstood then you can reword your exchange so they can better comprehend you. Take the example above: The partner takes the second statement to mean he will be about 15 minutes late not 2 hours.  Details and examples can help correct the assumptions we inevitably make when we are filling in the blanks of unspoken details. These tips can help you avoid relationship problems.  

Would you like to talk more about this? Book a session Now! Please repost this to friends/family.

Vicki Langemo       www.counselingguidance .com


When am I ready to move in with an intimate partner?

I believe the answer to this question needs to come from both your heart and your brain and needs to be asked of both people before taking this step.

Here are the first set of questions: Do I love/deeply care for this person?; Are we both ready for a long-term committed relationship?; Do we communicate in a healthy and respectful manner?; Are we able to work out our disagreements and come to positive solutions that take into account both our unique personalities?; Are we willing to make this relationship a priority and work hard to make it a good one?; What are our long-term expectations for this relationship?; and Is my partner willing to talk things out, show respect and make compromises in difficult situations?  

Here are the practical questions to ask each other, answer and put down in writing in case things do not work out: Who will pay for the rent/mortgage or how will it be divided?; Who will pay for which utilities?; Whose name (thus ultimate responsibility) will be on the bills?; Can we agree to where we will move, set up the household so that it fits our budget?; and What happens if one person decides to move out so that it is fair for both people?

If you can answer all these questions and still feel good about the move then your relationship is mature enough to take this next big step.

Caregiver Burnout: The Silent Sufferer:

The stress expectations and guilt of the caregiver often go unnoticed. But caregiving takes a huge toll on the person(s) providing the care. The helper is often on call 24/7, dealing with household disruption, additional financial pressures, added paperwork, additional workload, implied expectations of others and a feeling of guild that it is never enough. Some people give years or decades to caregiving and don’t even realize or feel how the stress and burden is affecting them. Top symptoms of burnout are: impatience, personal health problems, bitterness, resentment, forgoing leisure activities (like never going on vacation), feeling run down, anxious, irritable, gaining or losing weight or sleep problems.

Could you use someone to support, help and vent to in a conversation? Book a session Now!

Conflict Resolution Skills build a Healthy and Happy Relationship:

Each person is a unique individual. Therefore, we have our own personality traits, beliefs, values, opinions and perspective. So from time to time, people in relationships will disagree. It’s OK to not agree but for a Healthy, Happy relationship you will need to find some common ground and a positive resolution to the conflict. Here are some simple tips to accomplish a constructive, non-hurtful outcome. #1) is staying respectful. This means no swearing, name-calling or nasty put downs. This only raises the other person’s defenses and instead of listening to what you are saying they begin to design their own argument. #2)  Second, identify the specific conflict. Then both sides should summarize their side without interruption. #3) Next, you begin to brainstorm ideas for a workable solution for both parties. Look for Win/Win solutions and put your answer into action. If it works you have just found a Positive and Healthy resolution to your disagreement. #4) Finally, Praise, Praise, Praise, yourself for implementing this skill. It is an awesome skill to develop and it will help all aspects of your Life.

If you need more help to learn this skill, Book as session, Now!


 Wellness Counseling

After 20 years of working in the field of psychology, I have developed my own type of practice that I like to call Wellness Counseling. Wellness counseling is down-to-earth, practical, straight forward guidance to help people learn new skills, healthy alternatives, positive pathways that can lead to a growth mindset.  Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to develop a set of habits, tendencies and mannerism that we use to solve all our problems. Unfortunately, this can be a very fixed mind-set, myopic in scope for finding solutions to the struggles and problems that inevitably come into everyone’s life. When we find ourselves stuck in our same old patterns it helps to go get some new lessons from a professional. Just as a golfer would go to a pro to brush up and improve their game, people can come to me to learn new skills, options and alternatives. I often teach communication skills, conflict resolution, Positive relationship skills, WIN/WIN solutions, identify personality traits, anger and stress reduction, grief/loss, Happiness charts and other positive game changing techniques that will help people get out of their rut and improve their lives.

If you would like to change your game skills, Book a session, Now!

Reduce Your Stress in 5 minutes or Less:

Did you know that stress is a major component in health, relationship and work problems? Here are 6 QUICK tips to give yourself a mini-stress break. #1) My Favorite: Eat a small piece of Dark Chocolate. Dark Chocolate is rich in healthy flavonols and the cocoa can get the brain to release Feel-Good happy endorphin hormones that reduce stress.  (I think I use this technique too often). #2) Meditate: This is not a complicated procedure. Just spend 2 minutes with your eyes closed taking slow deep breaths from your belly and concentrating on a Happy thought, a pleasurable memory, a fun wish, a great vacation, a positive affirmation or a peaceful place. Your brain will be triggered into calming down. #3) Embrace the Energy: Stress can give you an energy boost. Use this extra momentum to do something positive. Clean clutter that has been bothering you, run an errand, go for a walk or run, (you can even do jumping jacks in place), or take care of a quick task. Getting something positive and concrete done will make you feel better about your day. #4) Big Hugs are Healing: Find someone you are close to and give them a big hug. Human touch is a very healing technique, it feels great and reduces stress. #5) Laughter is the best Medicine: Search YouTube for a funny or humorous video that makes you chuckle or brings a smile to your face. Nothing breaks the hold of stress on your body like a good laugh. #6) Nature relives stress: Go outside, enjoy a garden, or walk in the country.  Can’t leave the office or its -30 below….buy a flower or have pictures of your favorite natural environments. I have a picture of my rain garden, a rose that was budding in the winter and the woods where I bike. They bring nature to my brain and thus reduces stress. Please take 5 minutes twice a day to take care of yourself. Have a stress break on me and use one of these 6 suggestions. If you need more info on stress reduction, I have spent 20 years developing techniques to reduce stress.

Please Book a session now on my website.

Listen to the meaning behind your Feelings:

Over the years, I have worked with many people who are afraid of their feelings. Maybe they are dealing with Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Grief or Anger. We are often raised to think of our feelings as either Good or Bad. Good feelings are like Love, Joy or Happiness and Bad Feelings are emotions like Anxiety, Fear, Grief or Anger. But feelings are not good or bad. They are survival tools that are meant to give us messages.

So when you get a strong feeling….acknowledge it and ask yourself; ‘What message is my feelings trying to sending me? “They may be telling you…I am anxious because I am in a relationship where I don’t feel safe or loved. They may be telling you I have lost a beloved person in my life and there is a void that is now unfilled.

Once you have determined what your feelings are trying to tell you, take some positive, constructive action. If you are in a relationship where you feel unloved and unsafe, then it is time to go to couples counseling, read a good book on healthy relationships, learn positive communication and conflict negotiation skills or go on a couples retreat. If you are grieving, then maybe it is time to join a grief support group, go to counseling, read a good book on overcoming grief, or go into nature and commune with the spirit of your loved one.  Keep trying beneficial, helpful tasks, changes or actions until your feelings begin to calm and subside. Then you know you have let your feelings guide you to a positive outcome. Do not be afraid of your feelings! Instead, look to them as friendly guides’ giving you important messages about your life situation.  If you would like to learn more, please go to my website and book a session or share this post with your friends.

Vicki Langemo, LPC,  #positivelifevibe ( www.counselingguidance.com )

Reality Rewrite:

If you had to summarize your life’s story, would the retelling make you stronger or weaker? We can often be our own worst enemy. Our thoughts shape our reality. What we emphasize, how we remember a memory (concentrating on the positive or the negative), the words we use in our head, the scripting of our inner stories can make us feel stronger or rip apart our self-confidence. Our reality or perception of our life story can be beneficial or have a detrimental outlook. Often painful experience motivate us to look for change and reexamine the story of our life that lead us on this path. Although pain can drive us, it is actually positive desires/feeling that can fuel lasting change. I have reexamined my life story to learn and grow. How have you used your past to fundamentally change for the better?  If you would like to carry on this discussion or talk about other issues, please set something up on my website.

#positivelifevibe         Vicki Langemo, LPC     ( www.counselingguidance.com )



Fractured Inner-selves: 

At a meeting I was at recently, the phrase being broken was brought up. As I contemplated this idea, I was reminded of my 15 years of working with at-risk-youth. Many of them came to me hurting on the inside with behavior that expressed their pain on the outside. Parents, Teachers and Administrators just wanted me to fix them, quickly. As if I had a magic wand. But it is hard to mend and takes desire and work.  I liked to use this analogy to help others understand the complexity of mending a broken soul or heart.   If you dropped a plate of good china (my clients were always special to me) and it breaks in half, it is fairly easy to mend if it is a clean break and you have some good glue. If it breaks into 3 parts….it is still fairly easy to fix. But If a beautiful piece of china has not been cherished and well cared for but instead broken and chipped for many years…..it is not an easy task to repair the damage. It takes time, support, caring, respect and learning new positive coping skills to replace the survival skills a hurting soul has learned just to make it in this world. Most of us have been wounded along the way. One way, which really helps me is to go for a long walk. I can exercise out the feelings while working though my issues. What strategy has helped you to heal? I would appreciate comments from those of you who know me. If you would like to carry on this discussion or talk about other issues, please feel free to set something up on my website.    

#positivelifevibe         Vicki Langemo, LPC     ( www.counselingguidance.com )


 Inner Pain

      "Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it the others" Will Smith I hid my pain for years. I grew up in a two parent alcoholic home that was very dysfunctional. Luckily, I got help and worked through many of my issues although I am far from perfect. I learned that talking it out with another trusted person and implementing coping skills can really help. To all out there who are hiding their pain....I hope you will reach out and talk to someone, read a book, learn some coping skills or just keep trying to find ways to a healthy, happy life. What healthy ways have you found to help you release your inner pain? ‪#‎positivelifevibe                           

Personalizing the Grief Process: One size (method) does not fit all

I was socializing with a group of friends the other day. We began to share our experiences with grief. I stated that grief is a very personal, unique situation. If someone is going through the grief process, it is a good idea to ask them how you can be of assistance to them. One friend chimed in her disagreement. She stated that what she would want most is for someone to just show up and “do”.  This person would appreciate someone stopping over and just saying, “let’s go for a walk, here is lunch…let’s eat together, how about we sit out on the porch and enjoy a cup of coffee.” However, another companion replied that is not what she would want at all. She felt she would need time to be by herself and process her thoughts and emotions. A drop by friend would seem imposing because she would feel the need to put on a “happy face” and play hostess.

After this enlightening discussion, I asked myself what I would want. I realized mine was a more complicated answer. One thing was simple: I would want and like some help. Yet, the correct implementation would be complicated. Since I am a very old, stoic Scandinavian….someone would really have to insist on helping me before I would relent.  My answer would typically be, “I’m OK, I’m fine, no, there is nothing I need”. Next, I would find it fairly easy to ask for a hug, to go for a walk or out to lunch. However, I would have trouble asking for help with tasks I feel are not pleasurable like taking me to the doctor, chores, and computer work. Another aspect to my personality becomes problematic.  I am a very routine, regimented and set-in-my ways person. Someone just showing up out of the blue would break up my plans and would send me into an anxious tizzy. It would do more harm than good. Therefore, a caring friend trying to help me would not only have to insist but would need to set up a time that is convenient for both of us. (Yes, I know I’m a bother).

Because we as human beings instinctually know this is a complicated situation, we tend to opt out by doing nothing. Thoughtful words or gestures are always good. But my moral to the story is true help depends upon what the person really needs or wants. The gift of kindness is a beautiful thing. If you are really willing to go the extra mile for someone, give them a chance to tell you what would be truly helpful.

#positivelifevibe           Vicki Langemo,                                                   


Making Good Decisions:

Each of us face many choice points along the path of life. It can be so confusing when we are overwhelmed with the myriad of possibilities these choices can present. Since each decision is contingent upon the choice that precedes it; how do we make the right choice? There is no way to know ahead of time what the right choice is but we can strive to make the best choice for ourselves. Breathe, think of calming thoughts and empowering affirmations, gather as much information about the situation as you can and then make a decision that you know will be positive and healthy. In a nut shell this is a simple technique for making quality decisions. Analyze some of the best decisions you have made, what skills did you implement to make the right choice for you?  #positivelifevibe       

Comfort Calls for Seniors, Elderly, Home-bound or the Lonely:  

An uplifting conversation can make your day. Think of how much a cheerful voice lifts your spirit. Comfort Calls from Counseling Conversations can do just that. Vicki will be delighted to give you an encouraging, supportive and friendly chat whenever you schedule a call. It is a simple way to add to your support system. Talking with a caring person has proven to relieve loneliness, reduce stress and take away the blues. It also makes a great Gift Idea for someone you care about. Break the silence…..Try it Today! #positivelifevibeComfort Calls for Seniors, Elderly, Home-bound or the Lonely: