Secrets of Self-Esteem, #3

Defeating All-or-Nothing Thinking

Copyright © by David D. Burns, M.D. 2014. Do not reproduce or quote without written permission.

I send out an email report to the therapists in my Tuesday night psychotherapy training group at Stanford every week after we meet. I comment on what happened and summarize the negative and positive feedback from the Supervision Rating Scale that everyone fills out at the end of the evening. I also try to make a few teaching points.

Live therapy is one of many teaching techniques we use in the training group. Several of us work together as co-therapists and we treat an actual patient while the other therapists in the group watch. We stop every fifteen or twenty minutes to make teaching points, and to get feedback from the patient and from the therapists who are watching. This allows the patient to participate in the training process as well as the therapy.

This blog is based on a recent session with a depressed young man who I’ll call Ned. Many details in the report have been heavily disguised to protect Ned’s identity. After you read my comments, you can do an ultra-fast survey to let me know if you liked it.

Click here if you’d like to read about the session with Ned.

2 thoughts on “Secrets of Self-Esteem, #3

  1. It’s easy to say to think a certain way but what if you have been right in response to thinking? What if things never get better? What if you have been alone? And any other number of things. What if your life is black and white? I can tell you it is possible.

    • Hi BD, Thanks so much for the post. I’m sorry you are feeling stuck! Sometimes a good therapist can get you unstuck fairly quickly. There is no shame in getting some help with negative thinking, as you can get temporarily trapped by negative thinking patterns that can be so painful, and they appear to be real, although they usually turn out to be quite distorted. Are you reading any of my books and doing the written exercises? That can also be helpful–like Feeling Good. All the best, david

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