181: Live Therapy with Sarah: Shrinks Are Human, Too!

In my workshops and weekly training group for community therapists at Stanford, we often include personal work as a part of the training. The personal work can help in several ways:

  1. When you’ve successfully done your own personal work, you will feel greater joy and energy in your personal life and in your clinical work as well.
  2. You will have a much deeper understanding of how TEAM-CBT actually works.
  3. You will be able to deliver faster and deeper therapy to your patients.
  4. You’ll be able to tell your patients, “I know how you feel, because I’ve been there myself. And what a joy it’s going to be to show you the way out of the woods, too!”
  5. Those who observe the therapy develop a greater understanding of how the fine points of effective therapy.
  6. When the person in the “patient” role has a profound change, we all share that joy and feel inspired by the miracles that can often be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. As they say, “seeing is believing.”

Rhonda recently surveyed some of our listeners about live therapy we sometimes offer on our podcasts—do you prefer to have the live therapy presented all at once, in an extended, two-hour podcast, or split up over two or more podcasts with expert commentary along the way?

Our listeners were split on this. So today we are presenting an actual and dramatic therapy session in its entirely. If you don’t have two hours to listen all at once, you can stop after an hour or so, and then return to the last portion when you have more time.

And please let us know what you think of this live therapy podcast format!

In today’s session, we are very grateful to Sarah, a certified TEAM-CBT therapist, for allowing us to share her very personal and powerful session with you. Sarah was having intense anxiety during her sessions with patients, and her anxiety was bordering on panic.

This is actually not unusual. In my experience, most shrinks struggle with feelings of insecurity from time to time. But when we shrinks experience insecurities, we often feel strong shame as well, telling ourselves that we “should” have it all together because we are supposedly “experts.”

I’m no exception! I can remember how anxious I used to feel on Sundays when I was starting out in private practice. I’d tell myself, “Wow, I’m going to have all of these high-powered patients tomorrow, and what if they notice that I don’t actually know what I’m doing half of the time!?”

But then, halfway through Monday morning, it would dawn on me that my patients didn’t seem to notice or care about my flaws, and I’d relax!

Although Sarah brought a Daily Mood Log to the session, listing all of the negative thoughts that were triggering her anxiety, along with many other intense negative feelings, the session took an unexpected turn in the direction of the Hidden Emotion Model.

We’ve done several podcasts on this powerful technique before, and now you have the chance to see how it works first-hand! Instead of challenging Sarah’s negative thoughts, as we usually do, we asked whether there was something bothering Sarah that she wasn’t telling us about, due to her arguably excessive “niceness.”

I think you’ll enjoy listening, and you may learn a little, too! My co-therapists for this session included Dr. Rhonda Barovsky, my beloved and brilliant podcast host, as well as Kevin Cornelius, MFT, a fabulous TEAM therapist whom I’ve recently featured in a recent blog!

Rhonda and I want to thank you, Sarah, once again, for your tremendous courage and generosity!

David and Rhonda


You can reach Dr. Burns at Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.



Coming up in 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Register EARLY if you want to come in person. The in person slots are very limited and always sell out well ahead of time.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online) or $165 (in person)

Learn More & Register