097: Live Session with Lee: The Death of the Ego

Part 2 of 3 podcasts illustrating the TEAM treatment model for a relationship conflict

With Drs. David Burns and Fabrice Nye, and special guest Dr. Jill Levitt,
Director of Training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mtn. View, California

Lee suddenly discovers the answer to his question:
Why is my wife so critical and controlling

David and Jill do A = (Paradoxical) Agenda Setting with Lee, starting with the Invitation: Jill asks Lee if he wants help with the relationship conflict, and if this would be a good time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Lee indicates that he does want help.

They review the first two steps of his Relationship Journal, where Lee had recorded one specific thing his wife said to him, and exactly what he said next. Here’s what he wrote down:

Step 1 – She said: Write down exactly what the other person said. Be brief:

I was trying to convince my 18-month-old daughter to put her pajamas on. I was calm. Eventually, I raised my voice an octave or two and in a stern voice I told my daughter to put her pajamas on.

Afterwards, Liza said, “I don’t think you need to use that tone with a small child.”

Step 2 – I said: Write down exactly what you said next. Be brief:

I said, “I don’t think there was anything wrong with what I did. You can be stern without losing your shit*. There are times when she needs to know I am serious and not messing about anymore.”

It then devolved into a debate over a clash of values on how to raise our daughter.

* Transcribed as-is from Lee’s Relationship Journal.

Lee also circled all the emotions he thought she was having, along with all of the emotions he was having. He thought she was feeling:

  • Sad and unhappy
  • Anxious and worried
  • Rejected and alone
  • Discouraged, pessimistic, and despairing
  • Frustrated and stuck
  • Angry, annoyed, irritated and upset
  • Other feelings: troubled, defensive, dismayed, downhearted, and disconnected

Here’s how he was feeling:

  • Unhappy
  • Anxious and worried
  • Guilty, remorseful, bad and ashamed
  • Inferior, inadequate, defective and incompetent
  • Embarrassed, foolish and self-conscious
  • Hopeless, discouraged and despairing
  • Frustrated
  • Angry, mad, resentful, annoyed, irritated, upset and furious
  • Other feelings: hostile, loud, critical, agitated, defensive, stubborn, exasperated, sarcastic, powerless, diminished, low, resistant, confused, judgmental, vulnerable, inept

Step 3. Good vs. Bad Communication. When David and Jill ask Lee to examine his response to his wife, he had to admit that his response in Step 2 had all the characteristics of bad communication—he did not acknowledge any of her feelings, he did not share his own, and he did not convey love and respect. This was disturbing and surprising to Lee.

Step 4. Consequences. When David and Jill asked Lee to examine the impact of what he said to his wife, they suddenly ran into a wall of resistance, which is almost universal in relationship work. The Relationship Journal is an incredibly powerful tool, and it can be extremely painful because you have to stop blaming the other person and examine your own role in the relationship.

Lee suddenly and painfully discovered the answer to his question of why his wife was so controlling and critical of him—it was NOT because of the influence of her mother, but rather because he was forcing her to treat him like that almost every time he interacted with her.

This insight cannot be denied when you do the Relationship Journal, and it’s potentially incredibly empowering, but it can be incredibly painful at the same time.

You will also hear a masterful and paradoxical response by Dr. Levitt when Lee resists—and as a result, his resistance suddenly disappears, and he jumps on board! 


Lee Davy is the creator and founder of “The Truth about Alcohol.” He offers free weekly webinars for people who need help and support with their drinking. Check it out!

Attend my 2018 Summer Intensive in San Francisco!

This year, I am again offering my annual SF summer intensive in August at the South San Francisco Conference Center. This four-day intensive is almost always my most exciting and rewarding workshop of the year.

Here are the details:

David’s TEAM-CBT Summer Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call at 800-258-8411

Here are just a few of the really cool things about this intensive:

  • You will have the chance to practice techniques in small groups after I demonstrate each technique with a live demonstration in the front of the room.
  • You will get immediate feedback and personal grooming from me and from many of my colleagues from my weekly TEAM-CBT training group at Stanford. They’ll be there to help you, and I’ll be there to help you, too!
  • There will be a live demonstration on the evening of day 1. The amazing Dr. Jill Levitt will be my co-therapist. Last year’s live demonstration, and in fact all of them in recent years, have been jaw-dropping and incredibly inspirational!
  • You’ll get a chance to practice TEAM-CBT in real time the evening of day 3. This will be an incredibly challenging but rewarding “solo flight.”
  • You will be able to do your own personal work on the last day of the workshop using the Externalization of Voices and Acceptance Paradox. In previous workshops, at least 60% of the participants indicated they experienced jubilant enlightenment during this exercise. Their fears and insecurities suddenly vanished!
  • You’ll learn how to do Relapse Prevention Training (RPT).
  • You’ll learn how to improve your empathy skills.
  • You’ll learn tons of powerful cognitive, behavioral, and motivational treatment techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • You will have the abundant opportunities to schmooze with colleagues, network, and have fun.
  • You will have two fabulous free luncheon banquets featuring talks by Sunny Choi, LCSW, who is using TEAM-CBT successfully with an underserved population in primary care with limited resources and language skills (“I must apologize for my success.”), and the wonderful Vandana Aspen, PhD, who will speak on “New Treatment Strategies for Eating Disorders.”)
  • And much more.

If you can only attend one of my workshops this year, the South San Francisco August intensive is the one to attend!


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