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Available for Pre-Order Now! Feeling Great–My New Book

Available for Pre-Order Now! Feeling Great–My New Book

I am excited to let you know that my new book, Feeling Great, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It is scheduled for release on September 15, 2020, and is the first true sequel to Feeling Good. Feeling Great includes all the new TEAM-CBT techniques that can melt away therapeutic resistance and open the door to ultra-rapid recovery from depression and anxiety, as well as updates on all the CBT techniques I first described in Feeling Good.

My target audience includes anyone who needs a little mental “tune up,” as well as therapists who want to learn how to use these powerful new techniques in your clinical work.

I hope you like it, and I hope it is helpful

to you and your patients! 


You can pre-order it on Amazon now! 

CoverFeelingGreat1

197: Dating Anxiety and the Secret of Sex Appeal, Featuring Special Guest, Dr. Matthew May

197: Dating Anxiety and the Secret of Sex Appeal, Featuring Special Guest, Dr. Matthew May

Loneliness has existed since the dawn of time.  I frequently receive questions from lonely individuals wanting to know how to connect, and how to find companionship, intimacy and love.  Lonely men ask me, “How do I talk to women?”  Lonely women ask, “How can I find a good man?” Regardless of your gender or gender identity, you may struggle to find a loving romantic partner for a variety of reasons, some of which I have outlined in my book, Intimate Connections. 

Although dating can be an incredibly stressful, disappointing, and time-consuming hassle, there are tremendous rewards for those fortunate enough to connect and develop an intimate relationship. So today, we address some of those issues.

Our special guest today is Dr. Matthew May.  He is a former student of mine, a good friend of David and Rhonda, a regular on the podcast, and a loving wonderful man. Today, Matt brings us a wealth of information for those interested in improving their dating lives, based both on his clinical work, as well as his own experiences overcoming social anxiety, falling in love, and being in a loving relationship.

Matt begins with an inspiring reminder of why we would go through all the trouble, stress and disappointment inherent to dating, highlighting some of the rewards that await those who are persistent, including how good it feels to be understood, accepted, loved and cherished by someone who feels the same towards us.  His words are beautifully poetic and inspirational. He also provides some common-sense guidelines for individuals who are interested in dating, so they can do so safely.  We then delve into more psychologically complex and personal matters.

Here are Matt’s  tips on maintaining safety when you are dating someone you don’t know for the first time–for example, it might be someone you may have met on the internet. Although these tips are primarily for the protection and safety of women, they may also be helpful to men who are dating.

1.      The first time you meet someone you’ve met on the internet, meet in a public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop, where you’ll be safe.

2.      Use your own transportation. Don’t let someone you’ve never met pick you up, because then you’ll be vulnerable in case things don’t go well.

3.      Tell someone you know where you’re going, and when you’re going to return.

4.      Get to know the other person as much as possible. What does s/he do, who are his or her friends, and so forth.

5.      Don’t provide any identifying information, including your date of birth, to anyone you’ve just met on the internet, as you could be vulnerability to identity theft. Sometimes the most charming people are scam artists.

6.      Listen to your intuition. If you have a creepy feeling about someone you’re thinking of dating, pay attention to it. Something might be “off” about the other person.

7.      Don’t drink too much, as you could become a victim of date rape, especially if the man slips a sedative chemical in your drink.

8.      Give (or ask for) consent prior to any touching.

Matt emphasizes that emotional vulnerability is the price tag on intimacy, and this can be frightening because we all naturally fear rejection. Matt defines emotional intimacy as being seen as our true and vulnerable self, so we are accepted for who we really are. He talks about how most of us have a deep yearning for this kind of relationship, and yet struggle to be vulnerable and open in ways that make intimacy possible.

Rhonda, Matt and David describe the delicate balance between game playing–which can be crucial in the early stages of dating–and vulnerability, which can lead to a meaningful and lasting relationship. Some people try to skip the game-playing stage, thinking it is too superficial, and try to jump right into vulnerability the moment they meet someone they like. This often leads to rejection. People like to have fun, and you don’t always have to be “heavy” or overly “sincere.”

But too much game-playing can leave you feeling lonely as well. I describe a patient I once treated who was almost unbelievably successful in the dating arena. You might even say he was an incredibly effective womanizer. But he felt tremendously lonely and anxious on the inside. He was handsome and charismatic, and got tons of sex, but wasn’t really happy.

Matt describes another common barrier to successful dating, especially in men: entitlement and anger. He says that he, like many lonely men, used to think that “women should like me the way I am,” and “I shouldn’t have to put on airs to date.”

Years ago, I pointed out that Matt was not dressing in a very sexy way, and suggested a change might be in order. Matt insisted that he shouldn’t have to, and that women should love him just as he was!

I asked Matt to fantasize about his ideal woman. Matt described a woman who’s looking terrific–great clothes, nice hair, makeup, and so forth. Then I pointed out that most women are looking for pretty much the same thing–a man who dresses well and looks his best. I urged Matt to get a good “sex uniform” for dating–in other words, get some great, sexy clothes and look your best–it can make a tremendous difference.

Rhonda and Matt discuss the fear of being alone, which is one of the great barriers to finding love. Overcoming the fear of being alone must be done first; then dating will become far easier because you will no longer be needy.

The Neediness Problem–telling yourself that you NEED love to feel happy and fulfilled–can drive people away and lower your attractiveness. That’s because of the Burns Rule:

People NEVER want what they CAN get,
and ONLY want what they CAN’T get.

So if you’re needy, you’ll be desperate, and you’ll be what people can get. Then they won’t want you. Life works like this on many levels, and not just romance. When you think you need something, it eludes you. When you let go, and no longer “need” that thing, it tends to come to you.

When you discover  that you can be completely happy when you’re alone, then you won’t “need” a loving partner any more. This will put you in a much stronger position, and people will be more attracted to you because you won’t be so needy and available.

I can show you how to overcome the fear of rejection and the fear of being alone in the first section of my book, Intimate Connections. Although it’s perhaps one of my lesser books, it can be helpful if you’re struggling in the dating arena. Many people have told me that this book helped them find someone to love and marry after years of frustration and loneliness.

So, what’s the secret of sex appeal? Some people think it’s based on looks. Other people think it’s based on power, status, or wealth. Well, if you’re gorgeous, powerful, and wealthy, you will find that dating is a lot easier because lots of people will be attracted to you. But those are not the secrets of sex appeal, and they do not guarantee a successful marriage. I have treated many people who were gorgeous and tremendously successful, but they still suffered from severe depression and intense loneliness.

Matt and Rhonda reveal the real key to sex appeal for individuals of any gender or gender identity:  self-confidence. This is pretty basic: if you think you’re hot, you’re hot. And if you think you’re not, you’re not.

When you’re feeling depressed, lonely, and insecure, developing self-confidence and sex appeal might  seem impossible, but we are convinced that the magic of sex appeal and happiness can happen for pretty much anyone. For those who are interested, there are lots of step by step tools to help you achieve greater self-confidence in Intimate Connections.

Matt describes how I helped him with his own social anxiety when he was a psychiatric resident, and how his love life suddenly went from rags to riches. One of the techniques that helped him the most was when I gave him a homework assignment to do “Rejection Practice.” This exercise helps you get over your fear of rejection. I asked Matt to collect 25 rejections from attractive women as fast as possible, so he could confront this fear and discover that life still goes on after rejection. You will be entertained and charmed by his delightful and surprising story.

Dating problems and social anxiety have always been my favorite topics because of my own fairly severe social anxiety when I was a young man. In addition, when I was in clinical practice in Philadelphia, 60% of my patients were single. Some of them were divorced, and unable to get into the dating game, and some of them had never found a loving partner in the first place. I just loved working with this population. it was so rewarding to help my patients find self-love first, and then the love of another special person.

In fact, that’s why I wrote Intimate Connections. I just love to show people how to overcome their shyness and “singleness” and get partnered up!

Rhonda, Matt and David

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She will soon be opening her new Feeling Great Therapy Center in Walnut Creek.

Matthew May MD practices in Menlo Park, California. He is on the adjunct faculty in the department of psychiatry at Stanford and practices in Menlo Park, California. Although most psychiatrists rely primarily on medications, Matt tells me that the majority of his depressed and anxious patients recover rapidly without medications as a result of his proficiency with TEAM-CBT. He is also a superb teacher and has a weekly online supervision group for mental health professionals interested in learning and refining TEAM therapy skills. You can contact him via his website.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon! If you pre-order it, this will help greatly in the ratings the day actually released.
CoverFeelingGreat1

 

196: Ask David–Is there a Dark Side of Human Nature? Is “Forcefulness” Ever Needed in Therapy? Perfectionism,  Racism, Schizophrenia, and more!

196: Ask David–Is there a Dark Side of Human Nature? Is “Forcefulness” Ever Needed in Therapy? Perfectionism, Racism, Schizophrenia, and more!

in today’s podcast, Rhonda and David address eight fascinating questions submitted by fans like you:

  1. What’s the difference between David’s Therapist Toolkit, his eBook (Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy), and the EASY Diagnostic system?
  2. Is there a dark side to human nature?
  3. Is being “forceful” or confronting patients ever important in therapy?
  4. What’s the 5-session schizophrenia cure?
  5. How do you suddenly switch into “Sitting with Open Hands” during a session?
  6. Questions about OCD
  7. Questions about racism
  8. What if three are more advantages than disadvantages in perfectionism?
  1. What’s the difference between the Toolkit, the eBook, and the EASY Diagnostic system?

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and I am interested in either the Toolkit or the EASY diagnostic tool. It looks like the Toolkit includes quite a few questionnaires so I am wondering if I would need both. I would love to have a comprehensive checklist to give to clients during their initial assessment so I originally looked into the EASY Diagnostic tool. I’m just looking for a little guidance on which one would be the most helpful and if I would actually need both.

Thanks so much!

Cindy

  1. What do you think about the idea that there’s a dark side to human nature?

Are humans inherently good, as so many mental health professionals seem to believe? It could be entitled, “The Dark Side of Human Nature,” or “Is there REALLY a dark side to human nature?”

Jeremy

Rhonda and David believe that human beings have positive loving impulses and dark violent impulses as well, and that both are an inherent and basic aspect of human nature. They discuss several aspects, including:

The example of cats. They are genetically little serial killers. They love to capture and torture rodents, even if they have had a loving childhood.

Many people love violent, revenge movies and videogames.

Many people love killing animals, chopping their heads off, and mounting them on the wall, in much the same way that human serial killers get intense excitement from their killing and torturing, and they also keep trophies.

David argues that it is important for therapists to recognize and address the dark side—areas where therapists will typically get in trouble due to blindness / denial / rationalization of negative motives, and excessive idealism. Problematic areas for therapists can include:

  1. the suicidal patient
  2. the violent patient—David describes a woman who was plotting to kill her husband.
  3. disability patients with a hidden agenda of remaining disabled.
  4. patients who don’t want to do their therapy homework
  5. people, for the most part, don’t get addicted because they’re depressed, anxious, or lonely, but because it’s really awesome to get plastered / high.
  6. Many, and perhaps all humans, like to judge others and feel superior to them, and also enjoy exploiting others, but our denial can be intense.
  7. People enjoy bullying people. It makes you feel powerful and generates feelings of excitement.

We acknowledge that although the dark side to human nature may be strongly influenced by our genes, the environment we grow up in can also have a strong impact on our thoughts, feelings and impulses.

  1. Is being “forceful” or confronting patients ever important in therapy?

This is another great question submitted by Jeremy Karmel.

David gives many examples of times when it is absolutely necessary to be forceful and confrontational in therapy, but this requires a strong therapeutic relationship with the patient and perfect empathy scores and high levels of trust and mutual respect.

Therapeutic examples where forcefulness or confrontation may be important include:

Exposure techniques in the treatment of anxiety. The patient will nearly always “wimp out” at the last minute, and here is where the therapist needs to push—but most therapists will back off out of misguided “niceness.”

Pushing the patient to view his/her own role in a relationship conflict instead of buying into the idea that the patient is the innocent victim of the other person’s “badness.”

The new CAT technique in the Externalization of Voices is yet another example where gentle confrontation can often lead to rapid enlightenment.

Another example is use of Changing the Focus, suddenly drawing the patient’s attention to “Have you notice what just happened here between us?” This can be helpful when there’s an awkward or adversarial or evasive dynamic going on between therapist and patient.

Yet another example is the Gentle Ultimatum in dealing with Process Resistance.

In all of these examples, many, and likely most therapists don’t do well, due to “niceness” and fear of conflict.

  1. What’s the 5-session schizophrenia cure?

Hello David:

I recall you saying in one of your trainings given in San Diego a while back that you could “cure Schizophrenia in 5 sessions” using the T.E.A.M. protocol you taught us. Is there a special protocol for this disorder? One of my clients would very much like to know.

I hope that this finds you, your family and everyone at the Feeling Good Institute doing well and being healthy.

Kind regards,

Leslie

David explains that he has always insisted that schizophrenia is an organic brain disorder that sadly cannot be cured with drugs or psychotherapy. However, drugs often plan an important role in treatment, and compassionate psychotherapy can also be extremely helpful. The goal is to help the patient develop greater self-esteem and improved relationships with others. He describes the innovative group CBT program he developed at his hospital in Philadelphia which served a large population of homeless individuals as well as individuals suffer from severe schizophrenia.

He also points out how easily one can get severely misquoted, and appreciates the chance to set the record straight!

  1. How do you suddenly switch into “Sitting with Open Hands” during a session?

This is yet another great question from our friend and colleague, Jeremy Karmel.

David and Rhonda compare good therapy to dancing, having to often change courses instantly when the patient begins to resist and fight the therapist.

  1. Questions about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

I hope this a place where I can submit questions for “Ask David.”

Are there manifestations of OCD that have common links or hidden emotions? Do you hear one person’s description of their OCD and immediately have an idea of what might cause it? For example: do a majority of contamination OCD sufferers have a common reason for that specific “type” of OCD?

Do sufferers of something deeply distressing like pedophile OCD all have feelings of shame that manifest in that OCD, where the “what if” would result in probably the most shame they could ever feel?

David and Rhonda discuss the Hidden Emotion Technique which can be invaluable in the treatment of OCD.

  1. Questions about racism

Hello David and Rhonda,

Thanks for your amazing podcasts, I have listened to a lot already.

And thanks Rhonda for bringing this important subject to the table. 🙂 What if “Steve” had said that indeed he is racist and can’t stand African Americans or South Americans, what would Rhonda answer to that?! It would become difficult for me to keep a friendship-like relationship with someone who is at the extreme opposite on sensitive subjects.

I am open to any point of view, I don’t need to be disarmed here. 🙂

David, I’m so looking forward to your Feeling Great book!!!

Rhonda and David discuss two opposite strategies for dealing with someone with strong racist tendencies.

  1. What if there are more advantages than disadvantages of perfectionism when you do a Cost-Benefit Analysis?

This is a question from a user who wishes to remain anonymous. Rhonda and David talk about the fact that perfectionism, like all Self-Defeating Beliefs, has many advantages as well as disadvantages. And if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, it’s working for you, and it’s not something the therapist would need to help you with.

There’s a difference between neurotic and healthy perfectionism. Many of the great historical figures, like Edison, for example, worked relentlessly and would not settle for failure. And we are all the beneficiaries of that type of genius and intense commitment to the healthy pursuit of excellence!

Therapy is all about helping people who ask for help. It’s not about evangelism!

David and Rhonda

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She is a Certified Level 4 TEAM-CBT therapist and trainer who specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She will be opening the Feeling Great Therapy Center (virtually) in July!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon! If you pre-order it, this will help greatly in the ratings the day actually released.
CoverFeelingGreat1

 

196: Ask David–Is there a Dark Side of Human Nature? Is “Forcefulness” Ever Needed in Therapy? Perfectionism,  Racism, Schizophrenia, and more!

195: How to Crush Negative Thoughts: Magnification and Minimization

Today, the Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit Continues with

Magnification and Minimization

Rhonda begins by reading two beautiful, inspiring emails from Dr. Heather Clague and Dr. Dipti Joshi. Heather and Dipti are also dear friends and esteemed colleagues of David and Rhonda.

Rhonda and David begin with a brief overview of distortion #6: Magnification and Minimization. Magnification is when you blow things out of proportion. This is common in anxiety and is also called “Catastrophizing.” For example, during panics patients often tell themselves—and believe—that they are on the verge of something catastrophic, like a stroke, a sudden, fatal heart attack, or losing their minds and becoming hopelessly psychotic.

Minimization is just the opposite. You shrink the importance of something like your good qualities or the things you’ve accomplished. Minimization is common in depression.

Magnification and Minimization almost always play a big role in procrastination as well. For example, you may Magnify the enormity and difficult of the task you’ve been putting off, and Minimize the value of just getting started on it today, even if you only have a few minutes.

I sometimes call this distortion the “binocular trick” because it’s like looking through the opposite ends of a binocular, so things either appear much larger or much smaller than they actually are.

Techniques that can be especially helpful include Examine the Evidence, the Semantic Technique, Little Steps for Big Feats, the Experimental Technique, the Double Standard Technique, and Externalization of Voices / Acceptance Paradox.

Rhonda brings these techniques to life in a description of a depressed man she recently treated who’s been divorced for 2 to 3 years, and living alone due to the Shelter in Place orders during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although he’s lonely, he’s telling himself that he’s “too depressed and scattered” to be in a relationship.

At the start of the session, he feels:

  • sad, 90%
  • panicky, 50%
  • ashamed, 50%
  • worthless 50%
  • alone, 90%
  • hopeless90%
  • frustrated, 90%
  • upset, 90%.

Rhonda describes her skillful and compassionate TEAM treatment of this man, starting with the Magic Button, Positive Reframing, and Magic Dial, followed by Identify the Distortions, the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique, and Externalization of Voices (including the Acceptance Paradox, the Self-Defense Paradigm, and the Counter-Attack Technique, or “Cat”)

These techniques were tremendously helpful, and at the end of the session, he no longer believed his negative thoughts about himself and his negative feelings all fell to zero. He recovered, essentially, in one extended (3-hour) TEAM therapy session.

David and Rhonda discuss the impact of this type of experience on the therapist as well as the patient. Obviously, the patient feels fantastic, but Rhonda said she also felt “rejuvenated,” with much warmth and kindness. I (David) always feel this as well at the end of an amazing session.

Rhonda and David

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon! If you pre-order it, this will help greatly in the ratings the day actually released.
CoverFeelingGreat1

 

196: Ask David–Is there a Dark Side of Human Nature? Is “Forcefulness” Ever Needed in Therapy? Perfectionism,  Racism, Schizophrenia, and more!

194: How to Crush Negative Thoughts: Jumping to Conclusions

Today, the Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit Continues with

Jumping to Conclusions

Rhonda opens today’s podcast by reading beautiful email comments from Kevin Cornelius and Thai-An Truong. Both are dear friends and colleagues of Rhonda and David.

Then Rhonda and David discuss Jumping to Conclusions, which is the fifth cognitive distortion. It’s defined as jumping to conclusions that aren’t necessary supported by the evidence. There are two common forms: Fortune Telling and Mind-Reading.

Fortune-Telling: You tell yourself that bad things are about to happen. There are two common examples:

Hopelessness: You tell yourself that things will never change, that you’ll never recover, or that your problems will never be solved. David explains why this distortion is impossibly distorted and virtually never true. And yet, when people are depressed, they nearly always fall victim to the belief that things will never change. It’s much like being in a hypnotic trance, because you are telling yourself and believing things that can’t possibly be true.

Anxiety: You make catastrophic predictions that gradually exaggerate any real danger. All anxiety results from this distortion. For example, if you have a fear of flying, you may be telling yourself that the plane could run into turbulence and crash. Anxiety is also a self-induced hypnotic trance, because you are giving yourself and believing highly irrational messages. For example, one of David’s graduate students screamed loudly when she saw his meek little kitten, Happy, because she had a cat phobia and was telling herself that cats are extremely violent and dangerous.

Mind-Reading: You assume that you know what other people are thinking when you really don’t. There are three common examples:

Social Anxiety / Shyness: For example, other people are judging you and can see how anxious you are. You may also assume that other people rarely or never get anxious and that they wouldn’t be interested in you.

Relationship Conflicts: You may tell yourself that the other person only cares about himself/herself and that s/he is intentionally being “unreasonable.” You may also do the opposite type of mind-reading and assume that others are quite impressed with you when they’re actually turned off or feeling annoyed with you.

Depression: You tell yourself that nobody loves you or cares about you.

Many of the Truth-Based Techniques can be useful, such as Examine the Evidence, the Experimental Technique, or the Survey Technique. Motivational Techniques like Positive Reframing can be tremendously helpful. And Role-Playing Techniques like Externalization of Voices with the Acceptance Paradox can also be very useful.

David and Rhonda play a short audio clip from the treatment of a severely depressed man named Bradley with a history of extreme abuse growing up. He is struggling with feelings of hopelessness, which he rated at 80 (on a scale of 0 to 100) due to these two thoughts:

  1. I’m damaged beyond repair so nothing can help.
  2. Psychotherapy homework can’t possibly help so there’s no use trying it.

Prior to the audio clip, David and Bradley have done Positive Reframing asking:

  1. What do your negative thoughts and feelings show about you and your core values that is beautiful and awesome?
  2. What are some advantages, or benefits, of your negative thoughts and feelings?

David and Bradley then attack his negative thoughts using a variety of role-playing techniques, with many role reversals. By the end of this approximately 13-minute excerpt, Bradley no longer believes these two thoughts and his feelings of hopelessness have dropped to zero.

We are incredibly grateful to “Bradley” for giving us permission to publish this very personal and inspiring audio clip!

Thanks for listening!

Rhonda and David

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT Level 4 therapist and trainer.  She specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon! If you pre-order it, this will help greatly in the ratings the day actually released.
CoverFeelingGreat1

 

196: Ask David–Is there a Dark Side of Human Nature? Is “Forcefulness” Ever Needed in Therapy? Perfectionism,  Racism, Schizophrenia, and more!

193: Sarah Revisited: A Hard Fall–and a Triumphant Rebound!

On February 24, 2020 we published Podcast 181, “Live Therapy with Sarah: Shrinks are Human, Too!” This was a live session with Sarah, a certified TEAM-CBT therapist, conducted at my Tuesday psychotherapy training group, because Sarah was struggling with intense anxiety, bordering on panic, during  therapy sessions with her patients. It was a phenomenal session with outstanding results. The Hidden Emotion technique was the main focus of that session, bringing to conscious awareness some feelings of anger and resentment that she’d been sweeping under the rug. This is a common cause of anxiety.

But a month or so after that session, Sarah relapsed in a big way, so I agreed to treat her again during the psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and Dr. Alex Clarke was my co-therapist. This time, we used very different treatment techniques.

Once you’ve recovered, the likelihood of relapse is 100%–that’s because no one can be happy all the time. We all hit bumps in the road from time to time, and when you do, your “fractal” will come into prominence again. This means that the same kinds of negative thoughts and feelings will return in an almost identical form. This can give you the chance to defeat them again and strengthen the positive circuits in your brain.

That’s exactly what happened to Sarah. Approximately one month after the first treatment session, she had a viral infection, and began taking large amounts of Advil to combat the symptoms. This led to severe feelings of nausea, followed by panic. Multiple trips to the doctor failed to reveal any diagnosable cause for her somatic symptoms, aside from the possibility of Advil side effects. However, the discomfort was so severe that she panicked, fearing that she had a more severe medical problem that the doctor had overlooked. She lost 13 pounds over the next two months, and requested an emergency TEAM-CBT session, which Dr. Clarke and I were very happy to provide, since live work almost always make for superb teaching.

If you take a look at Sarah’s Daily Mood Log, you’ll see that the upsetting event was waking up Sunday morning still sick and anxious for the 100th day in a row. She circled nine different categories of negative emotions, and all were intense, with several in the range of 80 to 100. and she had many negative thoughts, including these. Please note that she strongly believe all of these thoughts:

Negative Thoughts

% Now

1.    I should be able to defeat my anxious thinking and reduce my suffering.
95
2.    If I can’t heal my own anxiety, I’m an inadequate hack of a TEAM-CBT therapist.
95
3.    I was strong, confident, vivacious. Now I’m fragile, weak, and self-doubting.
100
4.    My anxiety is slowing me down—I should be able to do more and take on more.
100
5.    Something serious is wrong with my stomach, but now with Covid-19, I won’t be able to get medical intervention and testing.
70
6.    I’m not as effective in my clinical work when I’m upset and anxious.
85
7.    I might get panicky during a session and screw up.
80
8.    I should always do more.
85

After empathizing, I asked Sarah about her goals for the session. She said she wanted greater self-confidence and less anxiety, and said her husband had theorized that if the anxiety disappeared, her somatic symptoms would also go away. But when we did Positive Reframing, Sarah was able to pinpoint more than 20 overwhelming benefits of her intense negative feelings, including many awesome and positive qualities and core values that her negative thoughts and feelings revealed about her. This always seems to be a shocking and pleasant discovery for the patient!

At this point, we used the Magic Dial to see what Sarah wanted to dial her negative feelings down to, as you can see here. Then we went on to the Methods portion of the session, using techniques like Identify the Distortions, Externalization of Voices, Acceptance Paradox, and more. We also had to revert back to the Assessment of Resistance once again when Sarah began to fight strenuously against giving up her self-critical internal voice. We did a Cost-Benefit Analysis on the advantages and disadvantages of being self-critical and not accepting her fragileness, weaknesses, and flaws.  Once we “sat with open hands” and listed all the reasons for her to continue criticizing herself, she suddenly had a change of heart and really poured herself into crushing her negative thoughts. It was interesting that as she began to blow her negative thoughts away, she suddenly got hungry for the first time in months!  If you click here, you can see how she felt at the end of the session.

It was a mind-blowing session, with much potential for learning. Rhonda, Dr. Clarke and I hope you enjoy it!

Here were some “teaching points I sent to the tuesday group members after the session.

  1. This could not have been done in a single session. At least in my hands, a two hour session is massively more cost-effective than a bunch of single sessions. But even then, you have to have a plan and move quickly.
  2. Although you all said wonderfully admiring things to our “patient” during the E = Empathy phase of the session, few or none of you used Thought Empathy or Feeling Empathy, which is vitally important. I thought that Fabrizio did a magnificent job with “I Feel” Statements, expressing genuine warmth and compassion.
  3. As usual, resistance was the key, and could not have been overcome with efforts to “help” or attempts to use more M = Methods. Learning the dance of reverting instantly to A = Assessment of Resistance is key (revisiting this when the patient resists during M = Methods. But this requires “sensing” that the patient is resisting during Externalization of Voices, for example. You have to kind of “smell” what is happening, and then suddenly change direction. You also have to be able to “see” that the patient is absolutely committed to some underlying schema or belief, like “I should always be strong and vivacious,” etc. The Assessment of Resistance cannot just be an intellectual exercise, as it might then revert to “cheer-leading.”
  4. Emotion and tears are crucial, and amazing work was done by Sarah, our “patient,” during the tears. She gave herself compassion at that moment. But tears alone without the structure would not have had nearly the impact. Skillful therapy integrates multiple dimensions at the same time. It cannot be formulaic. It’s an art form, based on science, and it is data-driven, based on the patient’s ratings at the start and end of the session.
  5. During the Externalization of Voices, I would recommend that you NEVER settle for a “big” win. Shoot for huge, and stick with the same thought for as many sessions as necessary to get to “huge.”
  6. During the role playing I switched back and forth from Ext of Voices to Paradoxical Double Standard and then back frequently, as they both draw on different sources of pretty incredible healing power.
  7. As a therapist, I never give in to a patient’s feelings of hopelessness, because rapid and dramatic recovery is usually possible.
  8. Relapse Prevention Training (RPT) will now be necessary, since NTs always return. RPT only takes about 30 minutes.
  9. I apologize for taking over last night, but felt my strongest commitment is to provide relief for the person in the “patient” role.
  10. Sometimes what you think of as your worst “flaw” (eg being suddenly weak and fragile and fearful) can be your greatest asset in disguise, once you accept your flaw(s). But we fight against acceptance, thinking that if we beat up on ourselves enough, something wonderful will happen. And, of course, the self-criticism can sometimes reap big dividends. At the same time, I try to remind myself that self-acceptance is the greatest change a human being can make.
  11. The goal of therapy is not just feeling somewhat better, but getting to enlightenment and joy. That’s what happened tonight!

After the session, I received this awesome email from Sarah:

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, David, Alex, and all members of our training group who were present tonight.

Such beautiful contributions from all, and I appreciate so deeply this 2nd opportunity to do personal work, especially given that we are ALL going through difficulties during this Covid-19 crisis (or in general).

I feel so much lighter, even enlightened, ate some pot roast for dinner (What??? I haven’t had an appetite for something like that in a LONG time… and find myself looking forward to my sessions with my patients tomorrow). And I also know I’ll have moments of relapse, but I really felt like I finally defeated those thoughts and especially the core belief.

Stay healthy and safe everyone, I look forward to opportunities in the future when we reunite, to be in support of YOU.

Best,

Sarah

Rhonda, Alex and I want to thank you, Sarah, once again, for your tremendous courage and generosity!

David and Rhonda

Two Month Follow-Up

Today I (David)  received the following email from Sarah, and she asked me to share it with all of you!

Hi David,

It occurred to me that my 2nd podcast is coming out on Monday, and I want everybody to know that this session had a significantly and lasting positive impact on my life. As I look back on our session two months ago, I realize I have not struggled with any panic since then, which has been such a welcomed relief! Now I can focus on doing the work that I love with my patients! My stomach condition has improved significantly as well.

Of course I do still have moments where anxiety pops up, or my stomach seems a little fussy now and again, but only in a minor way, and I am now able to tune in better to what my symptoms are trying to tell me and make adjustments from there, always keeping in mind what’s right with me, and not just what’s wrong.

It may be too late to add any of this to the show notes, but I wanted you to know how much it helped, in case listeners would like to know! It was the whip cream and cherry on the sundae we started building the first time we worked together back in December.

On that note, I have a small token of my gratitude and appreciation I would like to give you, but since I can’t bring it to you at the Tuesday training group, would it be okay if I mailed it to your house? It’s just a little silly something.

See you Tuesday!

Sarah

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com. She is a Certified TEAM-CBT therapist and specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems. She also does forensic work in family court, but finds TEAM-CBT to be way more rewarding!

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon! If you pre-order it, this will help greatly in the ratings the day actually released.
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