229: The Five Secrets at Home

229: The Five Secrets at Home

Today’s emotional and inspiring podcast features Mary Stockton, an Level 3 certified TEAM therapist living in Ohio and her daughter, Elizabeth Stockton Perkins, who is 19 years old and a sophomore at Vassar College. They give testament to how the Five Secrets of Effective Communication have transformed their relationship as mother and daughter, as well as their relationships with others. Mary said that the Five Secrets changed her life personally and professionally, and that the tools have been “life-changing.”

Mary was first introduced to the Five Secrets of Effective Communication when she attended one of David’s training workshops in 2002 entitled, “And It’s All Your Fault!” However, she did not really dive in and use the techniques until 2017 when she received additional TEAM-CBT training from Rhonda, Jill Levitt, Daniel Mintie, Matt May, and Thai-An Truong.

Mary introduced Elizabeth to the Five Secrets when Elizabeth was a junior in high school, and Elizabeth began to use these tools with friends and also in her baby sitting. Mary said it has transformed their relationship, because previously she had been addicted to “helping,” rescuing, advising and problem solving, habits which often prevent closeness in relationships.

David pointed out that many if not most mental health professionals, including many reading this at this moment, have been trained in these misguided “helping” methods, and are not even aware of it, or how unhelpful that “helping” can be.

The relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is wonderful testament to the power of the Five Secrets. Mary said that using the Five Secrets in their relationship provides them with a wonderful framework that they share and enjoy. Elizabeth said they have zero other-blame or self-blame in their relationship, and that they routinely get a fun, positive charge from the Five Secrets.

Elizabeth discussed a distressful situation when Mary responded to her using the Five Secrets and she felt supported, comforted and empowered. She was struggling with negative thoughts and feelings about her body image, telling herself on the one hand that “I should be bird boned and be a size 2 and be super skinny,” while at the same time telling herself, “I should be a strong feminist and not give in to these societal messages about what a woman should be like.”

Because her mom relied on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication and other TEAM skills, Elizabeth suddenly found that she could open up about feelings she’d been hiding, and their relationship changed dramatically. Elizabeth suddenly found that she could open up about feelings she’d been hiding out of a sense of shame, and felt love and accepted. She said that “mom was the first person I’d been able to open up with. I felt relief that I didn’t have to defend myself.”

Elizabeth cried when she described the gratitude she felt when she had the chance to be open and accepted, especially when she described her concern about being a good role model for two younger friends.

They also described how Mary used the TEAM process of Empathy, Positive Reframing, and Methods like the Externalization of Voices and Survey Technique to help Elizabeth escape from the self-critical thoughts that had trapped her. It was a beautiful experience just to witness the joy and love in their relationship. They also described a program on the Five Secrets that they presented for other teens and families.

We explored how one might use the Five Secrets when interacting with someone on the other side of the political divide who is angrily proclaiming political views that are sharply different from, and opposed to, your own. This is a huge problem in our country right now, with so much focus on blame, labeling others, and wanting to proclaim and insist on your own “truths.”

I have not done this podcast justice in my show notes. You’ll have to listen to “get it.” Mary, her elegant daughter Elizabeth, and the always wonderful and delightful Rhonda really hit it out of the park today. I deeply appreciated being included in this terrific experience, and hope you also enjoyed it!


You can reach Dr. Mary Stockton at and

Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, but due to Covid-19 restrictions is working via Zoom, 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. Check out her new website:

You can reach Dr. Burns at

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. The kindle is available now, too, and the audio version may be available by the time you read this! 

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