David’s Tuesday Tips (#3)*

Here’s your paradoxical tip of the day!

Therapists’ perceptions of how patients feel–the severity of symptoms–tend to be extremely inaccurate, at best, but most therapists are not aware of this.

What does this mean? Is it true? And if so, what are the consequences?

Is there a solution to this problem? And what, if anything, does the solution have to do with the first of four “Great Deaths” of the therapists ego?

Use the Reply / Comment feature below to let us to know how you understand today’s tip.



* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.

Coming Soon!

High-Speed TEAM-CBT for Depression and Anxiety Disorders 

I warmly invite you to attend this fabulous, one-day workshop by Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt on Sunday, May 20th, 2018. Click on the link above for registration information.

  • 6 CE Credits
  • The cost is $135
  • You can join in person or online from wherever you live!

You will enjoy learning from David and Jill, working together to bring powerful, healing techniques to life in a clear, step-by-step way. Their teaching style is entertaining, funny, lucid, and inspiring. This is a day you will remember fondly!

In the afternoon, you will have the chance to do some personal healing so you can overcome your own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. David and Jill promise to bring at least 60% of the audience into a state of spiritual and psychological enlightenment, WITHOUT years of meditation. That’s not a bad deal!

You will also leave this workshop with renewed confidence as well as specific, powerful tools that you can use right away to improve your clinical outcomes!

You will LOVE this workshop. Seating for those who attend live in Palo Alto will be strictly limited, and seats are filling up fast, so move rapidly if you are interested. Online slots are also limited.

Jill and I hope you can join us!



5 thoughts on “David’s Tuesday Tips (#3)*

  1. Testing and letting go of the self image that you are a “good” therapist who doesn’t need to review you work with the patient

    • Yes, Claus, good point. If you use the Brief Mood Survey before and after every session with every patient, and the patient’s Evaluation of Therapy Session after the session, you will often discover three things: 1. your perceptions of the patient were way off; 2. you were not effective during the session; 3. your patient gave you failing grades on the empathy and helpfulness scales. This can hurt, but can also lead to breakthroughs in the treatment! All the best, david

  2. This means that therapist perceptions of how a patient is feeling are extremely low (0-9% accuracy) even thought the therapist might think the patient is feeling great and he/she is connecting. The consequences of not knowing this (how the patient is feeling) can be devastating – patient gets worse, feels they are not being understood and might consider suicide as an option.

    The solution is to measure (using accurate scales – Burns’ Brief Mood Survey is very accurate) before and after every session. Also, ask the patient if they are being heard/connected. You might be surprised they aren’t!

    As for the first of the four Great Deaths, it’s quite clear that therapists perceptions are extremely unreliable and inaccurate. I would be nervous going to a doctor who had no idea what was going on with me 90% of the time!

    Accurate measurement is key.

  3. Lisa Kelley, TEAM-CBT Certified Clinician, Social Media Manager, The Feeling Good Institute, Mountain View, CA |

    Nice exchange!

Leave a Reply to Dr. Burns Cancel reply