239: Ten Days to Self-Esteem, Featuring Dawn O’Meally
Dawn O’Meally is a licensed mental health professional from Westminster, Maryland who purchased my book, Ten Days to Self-Esteem workbook (link) as well as the Ten Days to Self-Esteem Leader’s Manual for at a workshop she attended in 2002. This is a 10-class self-esteem training program for patients and the general public. The groups can be led by a therapist or lay person. This book was the basis of a large and successful treatment program at the hospital where I practiced in Philadelphia.
Dawn described reading the books and telling herself, “I can do this!” Since that time, she has conducted roughly four Ten Days groups per year. The improvement in her patients has been phenomenal, due, in large part, to her spark, creativity, and gift for teaching and inspiring individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
In the podcasts she takes us through the first seven steps of the ten-step program, and reads testimonials from patients like Julie who wrote: “I had many WOW moments. This book is my bible!”
If you are interested in setting up a similar program in your area, feel free to contact Dawn at email@example.com.
I think it is fair to say that today’s podcast is electrifying, and filled with the same excitement that Dawn brings to her patients! Dawn describes herself as a little like Miss Frizzle with her Magic Schoolbus. I’m not personally familiar with Miss Frizzle but it does sound like fun, exciting, and creative, three strong characteristics of Dawn.
She describes how she makes patients accountable, requiring a $50 deposit they can earn back by coming to groups on time and doing their homework (HW). As a group, they also do a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) on the Advantages and Disadvantages of doing the HW, and review the list of really GOOD reasons for NOT doing the HW in the book, with each member ticking off the ones that resonate with their own thinking. She said some of the most popular ones are:
- I’m afraid of what might happen if I DO change.
- I believe that others are to blame for my problems, so why should I have to change?
- I don’t trust Dr. Burns!
- I’m not convinced the exercises in this book will really make a difference in my life.
Dawn described several of the “steps” in the group, including the exciting steps on
“You FEEL the Way You THINK” and “You can CHANGE the Way You Feel.”
She said that members found the lesson on healthy vs unhealthy negative feelings illuminating, and the lesson on the Acceptance Paradox was mind-blowing.
The group trains participants in 15 techniques for crushing distorted thoughts, and some of the popular ones include the CBA, Examine the Evidence, the Double Standard Technique, and the Acceptance Paradox.
She described the feared and famous “Mirror Method,” where patients pass a mirror around the group and each one has to look into it and verbalize his or her negative thoughts, like “I’m a failure,” and “I’m the worst mother on the planet.” Then they have to talk back to that thought, using the second person, “You,” as they talk to themselves in a more realistic and compassionate manner.
She also does the T = Testing at each group session, tracking changes in depression, anxiety, and relationship satisfaction and sees significant reductions in scores on the mood tests by the end of the program. She also gives each participant a “report card” at the end of the program so they can see how much they progressed. Participants FEEL so much better!
At the start of the group she tells participants, “If you attend the groups and do the exercises in the book, you WILL change. This material can’t not have a huge impact on your life.”
She said that at the end of the ten sessions, the participants see that this really did happen. She emphasized that she greatly prefers treating people in groups, but calls them “classes” due to the stigma of “group therapy.” I, David, strongly agree, as this has been my experience as well. With a skillful group leader, and great material, magic becomes possible!
Dawn has done much more, creating follow-up groups for interested patients, as well as a new program based on my new book, Feeling Great (link), so we hope to have an encore appearance from this bubbly and brilliant woman!
Rhonda and David
Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, but due to Covid-19 restrictions is working via Zoom, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: www.feelinggreattherapycenter.com.
You can reach Dr. Burns at email@example.com.
This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. The kindle and audio versions are available now too!
Hi Dr Burns,
Brian from Ireland here again – thanks for a really enjoyable Zoom chat last week, and for another great podcast!
I was interested to hear you mention the Jeffrey Dahmer interview on Youtube – I watched it too a few years ago, and remember an interesting conversation about it.
I told a friend (who is very interested in psychology and knows a lot more about it than I do) about the interview, and expressed very similar thoughts to yours about it. His own view, though he hadn’t seen it, was that it was all a sham – psychopaths like Dahmer are simply good at faking normal human emotions and compassion.
I still remain convinced that there was an element of genuine contrition in Dahmer’s tone, but I was wondering if you would you give any credence to my friend’s view.
Thanks again, you’re an inspiration to everyone, as of course are Rhonda and Dawn.
Good point, Brian. and I’m easily duped. But like you, I thought it was pretty real. He did not seem to be manipulating for anything but seemed genuinely self-effacing and non-defensive. If your friend watches, he can tell us what he thinks, and maybe enlighten us! My wife and I are REALLY GOOD at seeing through people and ideas as well, but we can both still be fooled fairly easily!
Thanks for all you’re doing to help folks who are feeling down, and kudos on your own personal work and your mural business. Would love to see some examples of your murals!
Thanks so much for your thoughts! I watched the interview again today and still maintain your position – I may be falling for a trick but I would imagine that with all your years of looking at human psychology it puts you in a far better position than mine, or my friend.
I’ve lost touch a bit with the friend in question but still see him the odd time – maybe I’ll mention it to him whenever I see him again.
Some of my mural work can be found on my website, but it’s a few years out of date now – if you look up Brian Walsh Pictures on Facebook or Instagram you’ll find far more examples. Hope you like them!
As for helping folks who are down, well, I must say they’re all helping me just as much if not more! I sent you an email re, beta testing and new group members – and thanks once again for giving me a shout through Zoom, it was a really fun and exciting conversation.
Take care and as always keep up the amazing work!
You are very welcome, and look forward to our next chat! Warmly, david
Wow! Dawn is amazing! I’d be fascinated to see the data that she has acquired like brief mood surveys before and after the class(es). Proof that homework works…
Thanks! Will send to Dawn and maybe read on podcast, if that is okay! d
Hi Dr Burns,
Great podcast, so joyful. Dawn mentioned good vs bad anger/sadness etc… is there more info available on this?
Absolutely. In the Feeling Good Handbook, and in the Feeling Great app, there’s a great deal on healthy vs unhealthy negative feelings. Thanks! david