Today’s featured image show Mark and David on a Sunday hike prior to the pandemic
Podcast 275: A Spectacular Advance, Featuring Professor Mark Noble!
January 3, 2022
This special podcast features one of our favorite people, Professor Mark Noble from the University of Rochester in New York. Professor Noble is a world-renowned neuroscientist and cancer researcher, one of the pioneers of stem cell research, and all-around good guy. He contributed a brilliant chapter on TEAM-CBT and the brain for my book, Feeling Great. For the past year he has been a member of Rhonda’s weekly TEAM-CBT training group.
This is our third podcast with Dr. Noble, and the first podcast to usher in the new year. We’re excited to speak with him again today. He will update us on his latest thinking on how the molecular biology of stress and learning are totally consistent with the rapid mood changes we see in TEAM-CBT. He also describes his latest writing project, called The Brain User’s Guide to TEAM-CBT, and you can download it for FREE if you click here! (LINK). You can also download a detailed examination of the Daily Mood Log that he prepared for this podcast. (LINK).
In The Brain User’s Guide to TEAM-CBT, Professor Noble presents a “brainological perspective” on TEAM-CBT. He emphasizes that this booklet is written at a high school level so as not to intimidate anyone. So if you’re curious, take a look, and feel free to share it with others who might be interested.
Professor Noble explains that the new booklet was first inspired by patients who ask how TEAM differs from traditional (aka “normal”) therapy. Of course, the differences are many and profound, but one of the questions new patients and therapists ask is whether the rapid recoveries we observe during TEAM-CBT treatment are superficial and temporary, or even fake. They also ask if they’re even possible.
Mark asserts that the thing that makes TEAM-CBT so powerful is how closely it is aligned with how the human brain actually works. He explains that there are ten essential steps in TEAM, starting with Empathy. He defines Empathy as “being in a safe place, where you can share feelings without being judged.”
Empathy allows access to the networks in the brain where the patient’s pain is stored as memories, which physically are networks of nerve cells. The spoken and written language exercises used in TEAM actively and rapidly modify the nerve cell networks that generate feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, inadequacy and hopelessness. He places a great importance on the written Daily Mood Log, which he describes as arguably the “greatest invention in the history of psychology.” Click here for Dr. Noble’s manuscript on the Daily Mood Log.
One of the things he says is that when you describe the horrible and traumatic things that happened to you, and write them down on paper in a systematic, step-by-step way, this also may make it easier to look at them as separate from yourself and to gain some distance from them. Then, when you analyze them, pinpoint the many cognitive distortions in your negative thoughts, and substitute more realistic interpretations, you gain freedom and relief because you are actually re-wiring specific nerve cell networks in your brain.
He explains that most of our human thinking is a type of thinking called Fast Thinking. This is the automatic thinking that we do 98% of the time as we go through our daily lives.
Fast thinking is great, but growth, learning and change require Slow Thinking, where we reflect and analyze things. Slow thinking is the key to learning and growth, but it takes concentration and effort because you are changing actual networks in your brain when you challenge and crush your negative thoughts with powerful techniques like the Externalization of Voices.
He also stresses that in TEAM CBT we are not just telling people to “Stop it!” or “Get over it!” Quite to the contrary, we are teaching specific, powerful techniques that give you the chance to pinpoint and modify the specific brain networks that trigger your negative feelings. He explains that “language is a powerful tool for figuring out exactly how we see the world when we’re feeling down, and TEAM gives us many tools to modify the errors in our perceptions that cause so much intense suffering.”
Mark also laments on the excessive misuse of medications for individuals, including children, who are struggling with behavioral and emotional problems. He wishes more people were skilled in the techniques of TEAM CBT, so that they could sit down with the person who is upset and ask, “What’s going on? How are you feeling? What are you thinking and telling yourself?”
I have had the same thoughts when thinking about how so many therapists promote dozens of presumably therapeutic approaches without simply asking patients, “What thoughts go through your mind when you are feeling depressed, anxious, ashamed, inadequate, or hopeless?” The answers to this question provide direct and immediate access to the brain networks that need re-wiring!
Mark concludes today’s podcast by saying,
“I went into medical research on cancer and other serious problems because I wanted to help people who are suffering. I’m convinced that TEAM-CBT, and the powerful Daily Mood Log that David has developed, have the potential to help millions of people around the world!”
Rhonda and I are grateful for Mark’s ongoing friendship and brilliance and want to wish all of you a happy and healthy 2022!
We are both very grateful for your support during the past year and hope you will continue to mention our podcast to friends or colleagues who might be interested in learning about TEAM-CBT. We look forward to celebrating the five millionth download of the Feeling Good Podcast around July!
Rhonda and David