Today Rhonda and David interview Amy Berner, who has fallen in love and has quite a story to tell! Today is Valentine’s Day (we recorded this on February 14, 2023), so we thought a love story would be a ray of joy for all of you, whether you are in a loving relationship or still looking for one!
But first, Rhonda and David briefly interview Jeremy Karmel, the co-CEO of David’s Feeling Good App. Jeremy tells his dramatic personal story that led to the creation of the app, and solicits for people who might want to join us for beta testing, which has gotten very busy of late.
David also present some amazing data from a small, four-week beta test in December involving around 45 beta testers. The findings appeared to indicate that beta users experience far greater warmth and understanding from the app than from the people in their lives, which is on the sad side, since at the time users applied for the app, they only estimated 55% (on a scale from 0 to 100) warmth and understanding from the people in their lives, and roughly 85% from the digital “David” they interacted with in the app.
We’ll see if those amazing findings hold up in two larger replication studies now in progress.
Rhonda also gave an endorsement for the upcoming second World Congress on TEAM-CBT in Warsaw, Poland this year, March 30-April 2, 2023. It sounds exciting. I will be there is a variety of capacities including conducting a personal session with Jill Levitt, PhD. Please check it out!
And, as usual, she read a compelling comment from one of our regulars, Irish Brain, who wrote: “Another amazing podcast for the collection!”
Amy Berner is a licensed marriage and family therapist who works with adults and teens online in California. She loves helping her clients heal from heartache, depression, and anxiety. You can find her at the FeelingGreatTherapyCenter.com.
Amy’s love story started at a women’s group that Rhonda was also in more than a year ago. It turns out that Rhonda is quite the match-maker, and has arranged dates for large numbers of her friends and colleagues, including Amy. However, Amy was feeling insecure, as so many of us might, before this date.
To help her, Rhonda suggested the Feared Fantasy Exercise, and asked Amy to list some of the things she was afraid her blind date might be thinking, but not saying, when they met. When you do the FF, one person plays the role of the “Date from Hell” who not only thinks these awful things about you, but gets right up in your face and says them.
This list of awful things the Date from Hell might say included:
“I’m just doing Rhonda a favor in dating you.”
“You look a lot older than your picture!”
“I haven’t gotten over my last relationship yet.”
“You’re not smart enough.”
“You’re just not very interesting.”
We demonstrated the FF on the podcast, and Amy knocked them out of the park, using humor plus the Acceptance Paradox. She said that when they’d done that at the women’s group, in greatly reduced Amy’s fear and trepidation prior to their first date.
Amy said she was also greatly helped by being in my small practice group the following Tuesday at our weekly psychotherapy training group. We were working on the “Interpersonal Downward Arrow,” a technique I developed that quickly illuminates the roles people play in problematic relationships.
Amy discovered that she was playing the role of the inadequate, inferior, insecure person, and this was illuminating. One bad thing about this role is that it quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you see yourself as inferior, you will chase, and come across as insecure, and that will cause the other person, in most cases, to reject you.
David suggested a technique he described in his book, Intimate Connections (which you can see below). called the Queen Bee Phenomenon. Instead of playing the insecure role, you give yourself all kinds of positive messages about how sexy and awesome and desirable you are.
Once you get into that mind-set, this mind-set can also act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s because of the Burns Rule, which states that in any relationship, especially at the start, one person will be the pursued, and the other person will be the pursuer. The pursued person has all the power, and the pursuer is usually rejected.
So why not utilize the Queen Bee Phenomenon and let the guys chase you?
This idea was transformative for our wonderful Amy, who is now happily, giddily, engaged, and she tell her story today with her typical wit, humor, and charm.
She emphasized another important concept from Intimate Connections. Self-love has to come first. Once you chose to love and like yourself, your fear of being alone disappears, and you discover that you can be incredibly happy when you’re alone.
Then, you will no longer “need” men; and as a result, men will need and chase you. That’s another expression of the Burns Rule which states: Men (all people actually) ONLY want what they CAN’T get, and NEVER want what they CAN get.
So, if you don’t “need” other people, they will have to chase you!
And that’s what happened!
Rhonda, Amy, and David also reviewed the principles of effective flirting.
1, Be playful, and not heavy or serious.
2. Have fun.
3. Give playful, specific compliments.
Amy has developed a game called “Flirty Dice” which helped her and many others. It is suitable for anyone 14 years or older and can be obtained at the Feeling Great Therapy Center.
At the same time that her love life zoomed into orbit, her clinical practice did the same. This is common—when you become a source of joy, others just naturally are attracted to you. Kind of like human magnetism.
Amy sees people virtually from all over California. She practices TEAM-CBT and specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety, and of course, dating and relationship issues.
So, if you want to give your love-life a kick-start, or recovery from rejection, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for listening today! Last month, (January 2023), we broke our one month download record (>182,000 downloads), so thank you for that. We will surpass 6 million downloads shortly.
Rhonda, Amy, and David
Dr. Rhonda Barovsky is a Level 5 Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and trainer and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. You can reach her at: email@example.com.
I’ve been working on the development of this app for the last three years and the data from several beta tests look extremely promising. Your participation could be helpful to us, and might be super helpful for you, too! The various beta tests have different themes and purposes, but we are gearing up for the “One Day Mood Boost” right now. All of the beta tests can be fun and helpful, although they do require some hard work.
So far the app is only available for iPhone, but we hope to bring it to Android and Desktop as well.
Beta testing still available for Apple only? I would love to obtain the App on Android
We are working on it now. Thanks! david
Good day, David. In Chapter 23 of Feeling Great, you ask “Do You Have a Self? Do You Need One?” The answer is yes, and yes. I hope this helps.
But if it does not help, I will elaborate (if it pleases you.) You have a body, which has a brain which creates the mind. The Self is your mind — your personality, your thoughts, your feelings, conscious, unconscious and so on. If you’re alive, you have a mind and so you have a Self. Do you need a Self? Yes, you do because without your Self — your mind — you do not exist.
The trouble people get into is equating part of their Self with all of their Self. For example, David, you’ve said that you are a slow reader. That is part of you, your Self — it’s a trait you have. Is it all of you? No. Will people judge you because of it? Some will, some won’t. But they can’t logically say that because you have an inferior trait according to most — but not all, because some slow readers, like Stephen Hawking, are more careful and deliberate — that you and your Self therefore are inferior. That “logic” will only seem reasonable in a social system that ranks people in a moralistic way, as in an American elementary school. All you can logically say is “X believes that Y makes me inferior, and therefore they may dislike and even punish me.” It doesn’t follow that you also have to dislike and punish yourself. You can if you want to, but you could also choose to love yourself no matter what.
In Sweden, there is the concept of Lagom, or “good enough.” It’s a value decision. You can choose that and be happy, or you can choose the ideal of Hitler: heroic extremes, perfection, dominance, et cetera. We all know how that ends. Most Americans, it seems to me, unconsciously choose the ideal of Hitler, so you have much depression, mass shootings and so on, because it is impossible for every single person to be above average in whatever collection of traits are considered, often arbitrarily, to be worthwhile. This is the difference between conditional worth, which not everyone can have, and unconditional worth, which is open to everybody.
Final thought. In part 44 of his Handbook, Epictetus said:
“These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you, therefore I am better”; “I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;” “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style.”
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Very cool. Being Swedish, I like your Swedish concept of “good enough!” All the best, david
I couldn’t agree more!! Why are people so obsessed with being “the best”? What do you get?
I had the opportunity to meet both Beck AND Ellis in the early 2000s. everyone fawning over Beck, hanging on his every word and talking about what a genius he was. Meanwhile he just sat there, grimacing, looking down and languidly picking at his sandwich and then he’d get up and shuffle around. I remember thinking that if that was happiness and “success” that I’ll take misery! flash forward in time, and his obituary said that he constantly worried about approval and took his Beck Depression test multiple times a day. Meeting Ellis was totally different. Completely relaxed . Someone asked him if he cared what other people thought and he had a BIG smile and said “frankly I don’t give a sh*t!!” lol Totally light-hearted and you learned something. Liking yourself is a CHOICE that EVERYONE can make. You could tell Beck didn’t accept himself and even looked down on others.
I don’t AT ALL mean to be disrespectful, but my point is that nearly everyone psychologist I met reveres Beck as The Best but you can’t even MENTION Ellis or Burns or they will scoff at you. (Beck even knocked Dr. Burns when asked and said “well I think Gary Emory is a little better…”) In other words “worth” is often totally a matter of taste like Dr. Burns says. If you think “worth” is being famous and revered, even if you are miserable then no one can disprove you. If you think worth means actually helping people get better, then you can think that. Totally arbitrary. In the end it’s mostly a waste of time.
Anyway, Just wanted to share my 2 cents (can’t wait for the workshop!!!)
Hi Karen, I totally agree. I found that Ellis was refreshing and honest, and didn’t try to steal from others and call their work his work. Like you, my interactions wtih Aaron Beck soured after a while, and left me feeling disappointed . . . and, honestly, a bit angry! I perhaps can’t say more but there definitely IS a lot more that could be said!
But I have always had only the kindest words for our beloved but whacky Albert Ellis! I enjoyed his outrageous honesty, too. Not many like Ellis around these days, and I am so sad that we lost him!
It’s so funny you say that Dr Burns, because after that I ended up reading one of Emory’s books and it was so-so, but what surprised me was that there was a patient dialogue word for word which was printed uncredited in either CT of Depression or CT and the Emotional Disorders by Beck. I had the impression because I read Beck first that that those were BECK’s words with the patient but they weren’t. Then I heard some stories that made me think “this guy’s more of a politician than a doctor.” eventually this and beck’s obvious unhappiness made me question his approach, and I mentioned this to a colleague. They say “well, he has health problems” and I said “so does Ellis, and far worse and he doesn’t act like that.”
I wonder if you feel the same, but it seems the thing about Ellis was that he put the patient first, he cared about efficiency and he knew how important it is to get the patient laughing, because it’s so easy to take things too seriously when you’re depressed. I don’t mean to say that Ellis didn’t care about himself because his thing was enlightened self-interest, but he worked his butt off in therapy and wouldn’t withhold just criticism of his colleagues even when it meant sticking his neck out. Doctors then pretended to be against him because he was unusually liberal or used four letter words or was wild as a teenager, but it was all a facade in my opinion.
Ellis is a legend as far as I am concerned, and I think you are a legend too Dr. Burns and will gone down in history as the guy who proved the possibility of the one-session cure through beating resistance, and I know efficiency-minded Ellis would have been the first person in line to shake your hand and give credit where credit is due!!
Thank you Karen. I really appreciate your note! Warmly, david
Hi David, Rhonda and Amy – I’m just catching up on podcasts now – thanks for the lovely little shout-out in this one! Delighted to hear of Amy’s success story. Thanks for everything, as always! – Irish Brian (I think I’ll stick with that; as there’s at least one other Brian who contacts you regularly!)
Thanks, Irish Brian! Always a joy to hear from you! Best, david