098: Live Session with Lee, Part 3: The Rebirth


The last 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

In this final podcast featuring the TEAM therapy session with Lee, David and Jill do M = Methods, and show Lee how to respond to his wife more skillfully, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Like everyone who is trying to learn the Five Secrets, Lee struggles with several blind spots:

  • “I Feel” Statements. Lee has tremendous difficulties sharing his feelings openly, in a respectful manner. He seems indoctrinated with the cultural idea that men should not be vulnerable and express feelings.
  • Lee makes the common error of “problem solving” instead of asking his wife to share more of her feelings.
  • Lee makes another common error of apologizing and using the trite phrase “I’m sorry” instead of encouraging his wife to open up. David discusses the different between dysfunctional and effective apologies.

David and Jill do lots of role-play practice with Lee and give him a homework assignment.

T = Testing. After the session is over, Lee completes the Brief Mood Survey again. His scores indicated that his feelings of  anxiety and anger have completely disappeared, and he also has a perfect score  Positive Feelings Survey and the Relationship Satisfaction Scale. He also gave David and Jill perfect scores on the Empathy and Helpfulness scales and wrote what he liked the best about the session:

“My epiphany came at the moment I realized I had been afraid of emasculating myself and realizing that my vision of what a “man” should be was completely inaccurate.”

At the end, Jill reads an emotional email from Lee describing how he relapsed and started arguing with his wife, and then remembered to empathize use the Five Secrets instead, with an amazing result!


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 IAHB.org 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!


10 thoughts on “098: Live Session with Lee, Part 3: The Rebirth

  1. That story about you being in military camp as a child is so sad David. I had to pause the audio. Thank you for sharing

  2. I so enjoyed this podcast with Lee and the implications for working with clients in a specific moment of time in order to understand the basis for ALL their problems. I have a question for you, though. What to do with clients who come in, not because of conflict per se, or communication errors, but simply because they have needs and wants that have been communicated beautifully (in my opinion), but are simply unmet by their spouse? I spend considerable time working on communication and focusing on the positive in relationships. I personally think that if we are suffering or unhappy in a relationship, perhaps the focus ought to be put on the spouse and his/her experience. But when is “enough” enough??!! Does there not need to be a balance of some sort in a marital relationship so one does not feel lonely or grow resentful? Just some thoughts generally…..

    A fond listener, Hilary

    • Hilary,

      Thanks so much for the wonderful question!

      There is something called “Reverse Hypnosis” where you, the therapist, buy into the notion that the patient is the victim of the other person’s bad behavior. Could it be happening here?

      If you want to follow the TEAM approach, you would need your patient to write down one specific thing her husband said to her, and exactly what she said next, that was not effective. Then the plot will thicken and you’ll see exactly what’s going on. If you want to copy the information to me, Jill and I can perhaps comment.

      To learn more, read Feeling Good Together and do the written exercises as you read. If you want to copy the information to me

      Thanks! david

      • Maybe it’s a lot like Melania and Donald. I suppose Melania could be as empathic and genuine as possible and it still may not convince him to respect her or honor her. I suppose everyone’s “enough” will be different but my recollection is that you have to work with the patient to determine initially whether the relationship is worth pursuing/working on. Perhaps due to pressures… monetary needs, threat of violence if you leave, etc a person does not perceive the situation as escapable and yet they still are trying to get their needs met. Then what?

      • Thanks, Shetha,

        Your question, “Then what,” is a general one, so I can’t really make a meaningful response. i don’t actually know what you are asking.

        But I do want to strongly agree with you that before I work with anyone on improving a troubled relationship, we have to do interpersonal decision-making, to see if they want to: 1. settle for the status quo; 2. leave; 3. work to improve the relationship.

        I also agree that the impact of even the finest use of the Five Secrets will vary greatly, depending on the person you are interacting with. When you are interacting with someone who is extremely narcissistic or even potentially violent, you may have to settle for “managing them,” using techniques like Stroking and Disarming, as opposed to having the misguided hope of getting close.

        Finally, when people try the Five Secrets and claim they were not effective, they are actually using the Five Secrets in a clumsy or ineffective manner, like banging on the piano keys and feeling disappointed when beautiful music doesn’t come out.

        Just some random thoughts! Thanks again! david

  3. I am new to the Feeling Good podcasts and am really enjoying them. I notice that you make comments about the podcast at the very beginning, before your listeners have heard it and really know what you’re talking about. I would find it more helpful to hear your thoughts after listening to the podcast, and wonder if you’ve ever considered commenting at the end.

    • Thanks, that’s a good idea too. There are other podcasts with live sessions. See what you think of them, and let us know if you recommend the same thing, or if they are okay. All the best, David PS Glad you are enjoying them. Please tell your friends who might be interested in mental health themes, as we are trying to increase our audience.

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