113: Ask David: How Can I Overcome My Perfectionism?

Hi everybody! In today’s podcast we answer five challenging questions submitted by fans and listeners such as you!

1. Steven asks about the best route to take if you want to learn and practice TEAM-CBT? Is the degree important? What’s the best degree? Should you go to school to become a psychologist,  clinical social worker, addiction counselor, psychiatrist, professional counselor, pastoral counselor, marriage and family therapist, life coach, or what? There are so many degrees and potential paths that my head is spinning!

2. Sandy asks how to overcome long-standing, entrenched perfectionistic tendencies.

3.  Rin asks about the Burns Depression checklist and the criteria for depression in the DSM. He is (understandably) confused about the so-called “somatic” symptoms of depression, like insomnia or changes in appetite.

For example, some “experts” would argue that the following are all symptoms of clinical depression:

  • insomnia or the opposite—sleeping too much;
  • increased appetite or the opposite–decreased appetite;
  • loss of interest in sex, or the opposite, sex addiction;
  • loss of interest in work, or the opposite, being a workaholic.

How can opposite symptoms be symptoms of depression? Does this make sense? Are these really the symptoms of depression, or simply non-specific symptoms? What are the five key symptoms of real depression?

4. Kevin is a therapist with a simple question: How do I get over my desire to help?

5. Amanda asks how to use the Disarming Technique with a patient who thinks he or she isn’t making any progress in the therapy.

Thanks for listening to our Feeling Good Podcasts. Please tell your friends about us or forward this to them so our numbers can continue to grow. We are now in the range of 60,000 downloads per month, thanks to all of you! Fabrice and I greatly appreciate your support!

David and Fabrice


Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and treats individuals throughout the world via teletherapy. You can reach him at fabrice@life.net. You can reach Dr. Burns at David@feelinggood.com. If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

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A Cool Upcoming Workshop for YOU!

Two great locations: SF and Portland

plus Live Streaming from Portland
so you can attend from anywhere in the world.


Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Techniques 
to Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018: San Francisco, CA
(in person only)


December 3 and 4, 2018: Portland, Oregon
(in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed teachers!

Sponsored by PESI

To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

6 thoughts on “113: Ask David: How Can I Overcome My Perfectionism?

  1. I absolutely LOVE this podcast!!! It has helped me so much in overcoming my anxiety. I can’t thank you enough. I am so VERY excited about your new book Feeling Great!!

    Some favorite episodes are about the 10 distortions list and you briefly talked about positive distortions. Could you do another episode where you go more in depth on positive distortions? I can see many areas in my life and in friend’s life where we are brought down by positive distortions.

    Also, I’d be VERY interested in an episode on religious scrupulosity. It is difficult for me to do exposure because I believe my eternal salvation is on the line. It is also very difficult to find a therapist who is in my religion that does TEAM-CBT, and I feel like they won’t understand my anxiety if they aren’t in my religion because the anxiety is all about my religion! 🙂 Any help would be wonderful.

    Thank you!

    • Thank you, Elizabeth! Did you catch the FB Live Show at 3 PM yesterday (Sunday, Nov 11, 2018) on perfectionism? You can find it on my public FB page, since we recorded it. Also, Fabrice, Mike Christensen and I did a podcast on religion and TEAM therapy on Saturday, and it will be broadcast later this month (november, 2018). You might like both of these shows. Let me know what you think if you listen / watch them! David

  2. Hi David and Fabrice, I just wanted to say that I found your answer to Steven really heartening. I want to learn and practice TEAM methods too, but because of time and money constraints my only viable route into becoming a registered mental health professional (in the UK) is by taking a counselling diploma part-time, and I’ve been worrying that it might not be a fancy enough qualification! They don’t teach TEAM where I study, but they do teach regular CBT and I’m hoping that by listening to these podcasts, reading the notes, and the books, and eventually getting David’s therapists’ tool kit, I’ll be able to improve and extend my learning and emerge a better therapist at the end of my course. Fingers crossed! Thank you.

  3. Hey Dr. Burns,

    I have a few questions that I’m not sure I’ve heard you address (if I missed it, forgive me).

    Specifically, while you use specific questionnaires to measure anxiety and depression, do you find clinically that you see many forms of anxious symptoms, which vary from person to person? For example, they say that panic attacks only last 10-20 minutes, but some people I know can get anxiety symptoms that last longer. Also, when do you typically have a patient follow up with a physician to rule out any other health condition that may be causing the anxiety (and not the patients thoughts)?

    Secondly, I’m wondering how often you have to use techniques outside of externalization of voices (and the other techniques in a similar vein). I know it’s probably hard to demonstrate via podcast, but it seems like you don’t have to use exposure with a lot of your lives examples on the podcast (as well as other techniques). I’m wondering if you’re able to successfully treat most patients with externalization voices nowadays, or if you still have to try a smattering off techniques until you succeed in treating the patient in a lot of cases.

    Anyway, I hope these questions make sense, and thanks again for all you do!

    • Thanks, Matt. I use the cognitive, motivational, exposure, and hidden emotion models with all my anxious patients. You can’t rely on a single method such as exposure or ext of voices if you want really great results. You are also right that anxiety takes on MANY forms. Patients can get a check up with a physician if they like, but I cannot recall a single anxious patient I’ve ever treated who had a medical cause of the anxiety. All the best, david

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