115: Ending Addictions

Fabrice and David interview Stephen Pfleiderer, founder of San Francisco Intervention, on the treatment of habits and addictions.

Hi everybody!

Fabrice and I were thrilled to interview our dear friend and colleague, Stephen Pfleiderer, who is the first therapist in the world using TEAM-CBT techniques in the treatment of habits and addictions, including

  • life threatening addictions, like intravenous heroin or meth
  • marijuana
  • alcohol
  • binge eating
  • procrastination
  • smoking
  • internet porn
  • and more

Stephen begins with his personal story of excessive beer drinking starting in high school through his junior year in college when he hit a personal crisis, telling himself, “My life sucks. I can’t live like this. I’m a loser.” He decided to enter a 12-step recovery program, which helped tremendously, and eventually joined David’s weekly TEAM training group at Stanford because of his dream of becoming a professional addiction therapist and interventionist.

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Stephen describes his painful personal history of being beaten up and bullied in grammar school and high school, and how he still struggled with strong feelings of anxiety, shame, inadequacy and anger in spite of achieving sobriety. He explains how “TEAM put my personal recovery on steroids” and opened new doors in his understanding and treatment of addictions as well.

Stephen describes his new and highly innovative ways of treating individuals who seek treatment voluntarily (60% of his practice) as well as those who are treated with interventions (40% of his practice). He emphasizes the immense importance of dealing with the patient’s resistance, as opposed to trying to “help,” which fails nearly 100% of the time and can actually make the user more determined to use drugs or alcohol.

He also describes the addiction of family members to trying to “help,” and their intense  fears of moving in a new and different direction.  He explains how an intervention works, and how it differs radically from the dramatic and confrontational interventions seen on television. He compares his interventions to surgical procedures that require a great deal of preparation and hard work.

Shockingly, Stephen never tries to persuade an addict to change, but rather highlights all the reasons NOT to change and all the reasons to keep using. Why in the world would an addiction expert want to do that! Listen to this fascinating podcast and find out!

If you have a question for Stephen, he can be reached at

Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and treats individuals throughout the world via teletherapy. You can reach him at

You can reach Dr. Burns at



Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and works with individuals throughout the world via teletherapy (although not across U.S. state lines). You can reach him at You can reach Dr. Burns at 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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Upcoming Workshop Schedule

The following schedule will evolve as I add new workshops or update details. Check back here at times to stay informed.


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

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Brief Therapy Conference, December 6 – 9, Burlingame, California

Sponsored by the Milton Erikson Foundation

I will be giving a Keynote Address on

Overcoming Therapeutic Resistance

on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from  2:30 – 3:30 PM

plus a two-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10:45 AM – 12:45, with Dr. Jill Levitt on

Healing Yourself: A Live Demonstration of TEAM-CBT

plus two other presentations at this fantastic event.

I’ll also be doing a “Great Conversations” dialogue with Dr. Jeffrey Zeig on the treatment of addictions and the incredibly important concept of non-linear recovery.