Live Therapy with Veena
“It’s all my fault!”
The star of today’s 2-part podcast is Veena Mulchandani, a 28-year old certified Indian TEAM therapist who has just learned that her difficulties becoming pregnant result from an infection in one of her fallopian tubes. Veen feels devastated and fears that she might never be able to have a child. She also fears that her husband and extended family will judge and reject her, since there is so much pressure in Indian culture for women to have babies. And although she has many medical options, including IVF, she is intensely fearful that they might not be successful.
My beloved colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, will be my co-therapist for today’s session. Jill is the Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California (www.feelinggoodinstittute.com). Today you will hear part 1 (T = Testing and E = Empathy), and next week you will hear the exciting conclusion (A = Assessment of Resistance and M = Methods), along with some follow-up. Part 3 will be the Relapse Prevention Training we did one week after treating Veena.
Jill and I treated Veena in our Tuesday evening training group at Stanford. We feel that personal work is an essential part of the training of any therapist.
Veena with her two very beloved nephews who she considers being a mother to
T = Testing and E = Empathy
At the start of the session, we reviewed Veena’s Brief Mood Survey just prior to the start of the session. You can review it if you click on it here.
Veena was tearful and said that to make matters worse, her mother has been recently diagnosed with brain cancer, and although she is doing “okay,” she is not doing “great.” Veena explained that she has always dreamed of being a mother, and feels like she is lettinhttps://feelinggood.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/01-BMS-wt-ETS_veena-1.pdfg down the many people who love her and want to see her have a baby.
She and her husband first talked about having children when Veena was 24, but they decided to defer that for a few years because of the intense demands of her graduate schooling. Now Veena is blaming herself, thinking she “should” have gotten pregnant when she was 24.
I mentioned to Veena that my parents tried but were unable to create a pregnancy, so they finally adopted 3 children. Then I came along unexpectedly, after they had given up.
I also said that I’ve treated many women who felt like they couldn’t become pregnant, who then became pregnant. You can listen to the dramatic podcasts featuring my session with Daisy and her husband, Zane (#79 and #80) as well as podcasts 268 and 269 featuring a session with Carly (Click here for list of podcasts with links). Both women became pregnant shortly after those sessions, and I hope we can do the same for Veena! However, the key is overcoming the tremendous despair, shame, anxiety, and disappointment that the woman feels, so that the body can heal and prepare for the pregnancy.
You can see Veenas partially completed Daily Mood Log if you click here. As you can see, her negative feelings are extreme, and she is telling herself that
I may never be a mother.
I will ruin Sumit’s (her husband’s) life with her.
My marriage may go “down the line” because of the absence of a kid.
It’s all my fault for postponing the pregnancy when I was 24.
My in-laws, who love me so much, may start ignoring me because I cannot give them an heir.
I will always be looked down on and sidelined by my own people.
My mother is ill, and I will not be a good daughter if I cannot give her a grandchild.
There is no meaning to life without children.
My own body cannot suffice for my baby.
Her belief in these thoughts ranged from 60 to 80 or more, and she rated most at 100%.
Veena with parents
I asked Veena how she was feeling after opening up in front of so many colleagues in the Tuesday group. She said she felt sensitive and exposed, and was afraid they don’t understand and will also judge her for not starting earlier with attempts to become pregnant.
Although we were still in the Empathy phase of the session, I suggested she might want to do an experiment to find out how they were feeling. Although this idea made her anxious, she asked quite a number of the Tuesday group members how they felt, and received an outpour of warmth, love, tenderness, and support.
We asked Veena how we were doing in terms of Empathy. Did we understand how she was thinking? How she was feeling inside? And did she feel accepted.
She gave us an A+, and so we were ready to move on to the A = Assessment of Resistance, which you will hear at the start of next week’s podcast.
Thank you for listening today!
Veena, Rhonda, Jill, 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. Check out her website: www.feelinggreattherapycenter.com.
You can reach Dr. Burns at email@example.com.
This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great.
It’s on sale right now on Amazon, and it’s ridiculously cheap!
The kindle and audio versions are available now too! Check it out!
Hi David, I’m currently going over your 50 techniques in the feeling great book and wanted to ask you what you think of a technique called “opposite action” where you do the opposite action of a thought or feeling you have, for example I feel shame over something and want to retreat, but instead do the opposite and go out or stop procrastinating. I found this technique sometimes useful, other times the emotions are too strong.
Thanks, John! Great question!
I sue a lot of paradox in TEAM, but I would say it is an art form, and not a “method,” per se. And as you’ve seen, like all approaches, it has power as well as limitations! Best, david
You were right. I was wrong. I have a story on the theme of rejection.
After moving across the country, I became very depressed. Always anxious, it was impossible to make new friends and believe me when I say I tried everything. Along with this, I’ve got an abysmal record of luck in love. A few people I met here, including some I’ve helped substantially, knew that it was my birthday yet none of them even cared to call, and I spent the day utterly alone. I can’t remember the last time I was in so much pain. After some other bad luck, I began to seriously contemplate suicide.
But then something strange happened. Through some accident or other, I saw an interview with an astronomer. Intrigued, I afterwards bought a book on astrophysics. (This is very unusual for me, because I’ve had zero interest in this stuff before.) Over the course of several weeks I’ve become so absorbed that in the course reading about and contemplating the nature of the cosmos I’ve been moved to tears again and again, wonder-struck at the beauty and fascination of the universe and the relevant disciplines of study.
Fast forward to today. Earlier I said hello to a neighbor, who looked at me with contempt and said nothing as he passed me by. Ordinarily I would have been upset and confused by this, and ruminated about it. But this time I was surprised to finding myself thinking, “Well, who knows what that’s all about. But in a few hours I’ll get to learn all about the special theory of relativity.”
I had some shopping to do, and when speaking to an attractive cashier I couldn’t help but notice that she was flirting with me and prolonging the conversation. And then another customer in line, a woman who was quite beautiful, also started doing the same. I was pleasantly surprised yet totally perplexed because this is not at all how I’m used to women behaving around me. I smiled at them and their responses became even more positive. And then later on I found myself spontaneously speaking with another attractive woman, which is something that never happens, and she too was relating to me in a positive way I’ve never known before.
It was then that I remembered the opening chapters of your book Intimate Connections, the part about how you have to find happiness first before you’ll succeed with others. Well, I read those chapters and dismissed them out of hand, along with the rest of the book. “No way,” I thought. “This guy is a lunatic. We all need love.” And yet here I am enjoying myself for once in my life and as a result, through literally no effort of my own, finally having positive interactions with women now that I’ve realized love is far from the only source of happiness in life. Socially speaking, it’s far too soon to declare victory and yet in a way I’ve already won. Without medication, without a therapist and using only accidentally a single tool from your toolbox: behavioral activation. I didn’t even bother to do any cognitive restructuring. The only thing that’s changed is that I have an interest that I very much enjoy and look forward to pursuing. I wish I had listened when I first read your book years ago, and yet I’m grateful for having finally made the discovery and wanted to share this for any other skeptics. Be skeptical, but do the experiment. That’s the only way we learn, or so it seems to me.
Fantastic story. Way to go! Yes, the moment when YOU change, the universe seems to change, too. I guess, in a way, we’re all “one.” I love your comments about love and sex appeal. That’s why I actually wrote Intimate Connections, but as you say, I have a lot of “nay-sayers” who write me off, thinking that they “know” some ultimate truth! Warmly, david