Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #12*

This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day!

Successful treatment requires the death of the therapist’s ego;
recovery requires the death of the patient’s ego.

Sorry to be super brief again today because I am currently in Canada on the second day of the four-day intensive. If you missed it this year, you can find an announcement for the annual San Francisco intensive at the bottom of this blog! It’s coming up in August so you still have time to register.

So, what’s the solution to yesterday’s puzzle?

One of the unique features of TEAM-CBT is that patients rate therapists in the waiting room immediately after the session is over, using the Brief Mood Survey and Evaluation of Therapy Session forms. Patients leave the completed surveys before they go home. This gives the therapist the chance to review the ratings when the session is still fresh in the therapist’s mind so he or she can find out how effective, or ineffective, the session was.

The Empathy and Helpfulness scales are extremely sensitive to the smallest errors or failures of the alliance, and most therapists will get failing grades from most of their patients when they first start to use the Brief Mood Survey and Evaluation of Therapy Session. This can be painful, as it bursts the therapist’s bubble of optimism and self-confidence.

But if you, the therapist, process the information with your patient at the start of the next session in the spirit of humility, warmth, and curiosity, it can have a tremendously beneficial effect on the treatment. I’ve experienced this amazing phenomenon more times than I can remember! But it can be very painful to have to face your errors and shortcomings. That’s because the patient’s criticisms of the therapist will always contain, not just a grain of truth, but a whole lot of truth!

Yikes! That sucks!

So, the death of the therapist’s ego will often be required. This, to me, is a good thing, because it gives therapists tremendous opportunities to grow and learn at the same time that their patients are growing and learning. But the negative feedback does hurt at times. And the pain can be fairly intense.

For the patient to recover, the death of the ego may also be required. A great deal of depression and anxiety results from the idea that we aren’t good enough, so we beat up on ourselves relentlessly, thinking perhaps that if we punish ourselves enough, we will grow and eventually attain some goal of perfection or superiority.

But this mind-set is the problem; it is not the cure. Recovery more often results from what I call the Acceptance Paradox–which means the death of the patient’s ego. That means accepting that you are, and always will be, quite flawed, and accepting this with a sense of inner peace, or even humor. In fact, once your ego has died, you can join the Grateful Dead, and that’s incredibly freeing and cool!


More later, and sorry to offer you so little in the last couple weeks. I’ve been working hard on the new book, so I’m kind of short on time, but there will be a ton on this topic when the book is released, so hang in there!



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

Hey, folks, my San Francisco summer intensives is nearly always my BEST training program of the year because the group is quite small, giving you lots of chances for Q and A and schmoozing. In addition, many individuals from my Tuesday group at Stanford join me to provide feedback during the small group exercises. Here are the specifics:

* * *

Coming in San Francisco in August

High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders–
A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California
For more information, click here
or contact
phone: 800-258-8411

If you can only attend one of my workshops, consider this intensive! it is simplly


Seating is limited. Register now  if you want to get in on the action!

Hope to see you in San Francisco in August!


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