183: Tough Conversations about Racial Bias. Yikes! Do We HAVE TO Talk about This?

Today, Rhonda and David talk about how to give potentially hurtful feedback when you sense racial bias in a friend or colleague. She describes an incident in her office where the glass coffee table in her waiting room was found smashed and shattered when her office mate “Steve” (not his real name) arrived Monday morning. Although many people, including the cleaning crew, had used the office over the weekend, Steve asked Rhonda to discuss the broken table with someone who uses her office on the weekends, Kenya, about it.  Kenya is African American, and a highly esteemed professional and beloved friend and colleague of Rhonda’s.  Rhonda thought there was implicit bias being played out in this situation but did not know how to discuss it with Steve.

But how can she convey these feelings to her office mate, who conveyed the impression that a black man must be the one who broke the table?

David suggests one of the advanced communication techniques called “Changing the Focus” discussed and demonstrated in a previous podcast #158.  They illustrate how to apply that method to the current situation, and struggle a bit along the way!

David reiterates the story of when he was accused of being racist at a psychotherapy workshop near the Texas / Mexico border, and how his own teachings in that very workshop saved the day for him. He emphasizes that it can be so painful to be accused of racist tendencies, or to discover them in yourself, and that this is another case where the cover-up is far worse than the crime!

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 Level 4 Certified TEAM-CBT Therapist and Trainer and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.

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

I will present two workshops at the upcoming

Psychotherapy Networker Conference!


Saturday, March 21, 2020
Feeling Great—A New, High-Speed
Treatment for Depression

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Overcoming Magical Thinking with the Anxious Client—
A Paradoxical Approach

Plus, my new book, Feeling Great,
will be officially announced with banners and such!


* * *

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.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

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 only)

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, OCD,
PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with
Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

%d bloggers like this: