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181: Live Therapy with Sarah: Shrinks Are Human, Too!

181: Live Therapy with Sarah: Shrinks Are Human, Too!

In my workshops and weekly training group for community therapists at Stanford, we often include personal work as a part of the training. The personal work can help in several ways:

  1. When you’ve successfully done your own personal work, you will feel greater joy and energy in your personal life and in your clinical work as well.
  2. You will have a much deeper understanding of how TEAM-CBT actually works.
  3. You will be able to deliver faster and deeper therapy to your patients.
  4. You’ll be able to tell your patients, “I know how you feel, because I’ve been there myself. And what a joy it’s going to be to show you the way out of the woods, too!”
  5. Those who observe the therapy develop a greater understanding of how the fine points of effective therapy.
  6. When the person in the “patient” role has a profound change, we all share that joy and feel inspired by the miracles that can often be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. As they say, “seeing is believing.”

Rhonda recently surveyed some of our listeners about live therapy we sometimes offer on our podcasts—do you prefer to have the live therapy presented all at once, in an extended, two-hour podcast, or split up over two or more podcasts with expert commentary along the way?

Our listeners were split on this. So today we are presenting an actual and dramatic therapy session in its entirely. If you don’t have two hours to listen all at once, you can stop after an hour or so, and then return to the last portion when you have more time.

And please let us know what you think of this live therapy podcast format!

In today’s session, we are very grateful to Sarah, a certified TEAM-CBT therapist, for allowing us to share her very personal and powerful session with you. Sarah was having intense anxiety during her sessions with patients, and her anxiety was bordering on panic.

This is actually not unusual. In my experience, most shrinks struggle with feelings of insecurity from time to time. But when we shrinks experience insecurities, we often feel strong shame as well, telling ourselves that we “should” have it all together because we are supposedly “experts.”

I’m no exception! I can remember how anxious I used to feel on Sundays when I was starting out in private practice. I’d tell myself, “Wow, I’m going to have all of these high-powered patients tomorrow, and what if they notice that I don’t actually know what I’m doing half of the time!?”

But then, halfway through Monday morning, it would dawn on me that my patients didn’t seem to notice or care about my flaws, and I’d relax!

Although Sarah brought a Daily Mood Log to the session, listing all of the negative thoughts that were triggering her anxiety, along with many other intense negative feelings, the session took an unexpected turn in the direction of the Hidden Emotion Model.

We’ve done several podcasts on this powerful technique before, and now you have the chance to see how it works first-hand! Instead of challenging Sarah’s negative thoughts, as we usually do, we asked whether there was something bothering Sarah that she wasn’t telling us about, due to her arguably excessive “niceness.”

I think you’ll enjoy listening, and you may learn a little, too! My co-therapists for this session included Dr. Rhonda Barovsky, my beloved and brilliant podcast host, as well as Kevin Cornelius, MFT, a fabulous TEAM therapist whom I’ve recently featured in a recent blog!

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

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 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.

 

 

Coming up in 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Register EARLY if you want to come in person. The in person slots are very limited and always sell out well ahead of time.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online) or $165 (in person)

Learn More & Register

 

More On  Beating The High Cost of Therapy

More On Beating The High Cost of Therapy

Hi all,

Recently I posted on the high cost of therapy. Today I’m expanding on that theme. This will be a partial repeat plus some new options for individuals with modest resources.

Here are several options for affordable therapy that may help:

SF Bay Area

I am pleased that the Feeling Good Institute has created a low fee clinic, and I’ve referred some tremendously talented therapists to them. One of the stars is Kevin Cornelius AMFT. He’s been training in my Tuesday evening training group at Stanford for a year or more and was fantastic from the start.

Kevin combines tremendous compassion with state-of-the-art TEAM-CBT techniques. He grasps and implements this new approach with tremendous skill. His hourly fee is $95, and he prefers to work in double sessions, which often speeds recovery and reduces the cost of treatment. He’s supervised by TEAM-CBT trainer, Angela Krumm, PhD.

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Kevin

There are many outstanding clinicians at the FGI, but I always think of Kevin first. If you have a friend or loved one who needs excellent treatment at an affordable rate, you can reach out to Kevin. You might also want to think of him for folks from out of town who need “intensives:” multiple sessions in just a day or two with the goal of completing treatment for depression or anxiety disorders quickly. Of course, this is not always possible, but it happens frequently. You can learn about intensives at FGI.

You will note that there are several outstanding clinicians in their low fee / modest fee clinics.

I have no affiliation with the FGI, and receive no financial compensation from them, or from anyone in private practice, or from any corporate sources, either. I support the clinicians at the FGI because of the work they’re doing in therapy and the terrific therapist training the offer as well!

Stanford

I would like to add that if you are a therapist or graduate student in some branch of therapy in the Bay Area, my 2.5 hour Tuesday evening TEAM-CBT training groups at Stanford are totally free. We offer unlimited free personal work as well, in the event that you sometimes struggle with feelings in inadequacy or self-doubt.

If interested, contact Alisha Beal. However, you are required to attend consistently, do homework between training sessions, and use the Brief Mood Survey with all your patients.

david1

David

If you are looking for training, you might also enjoy my free, weekly Feeling Good Podcasts or one of my paid workshops, which are listed at http://www.feelinggood.com/workshops. (Also, see below for my May workshop with Dr. Jill Levitt.) This year, my summer South SF intensive will be on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, a hugely important and highly challenging topic.

Stockton

Here’s an option in the Stockton area. Sara Shane is also a highly esteemed member of my Tuesday training group at Stanford. You may remember her from a recent Feeling Good Podcast on high-speed treatment of OCD last October, which was tremendously well-received.

Here is a remarkable email I just got from Sara:

Hi David,

Just wanted to thank you for the gift of TEAM. I just finished doing an intensive with a young woman, 20 years old, with severe depression and anxiety and her recovery was miraculous. She went from feeling extremely depressed and anxious (scores of 19 on depression and 20 on anxiety) at the beginning of session to scores of zero, on both, at the end of session.

The recovery was amazing! I had never achieved that level of recovery so quickly with the modality I had been using in the past, granted I was primarily working with children.

Unfortunately, the intensive was not as short as I would have liked. On the other hand, I’m still learning, and I’d rather not rush things. In any case, it was worth it every minute I worked with this client. The whole session was extremely regarding. By the way, this was a pro bono client. Perhaps, why it was so well worth it.

The best payment was the words of my client at the end of session: “I don’t know how to say it…I feel so much lighter. I feel so content.”

And, this is why I’m so grateful to you—not only have you created this powerful healing modality but you have been so generous in teaching it to me and the rest of the world. One less suffering human being on earth thanks to you!

Warmly,

Sara Shane

If you are looking for therapy and live near Stockton, you can contact Sara at (209) 476-8867. Her fee is $125 per hour/session, but she also charges a flat fee of $375 for an intensive. So, you could go to Stockton for an intensive, even if you don’t live in the area. Told humbly told me this: “At this point, as I am polishing my skills, this can be anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.”

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Sara

Sara offers sessions in English or Spanish. As an aside, many of the therapists in my Tuesday training group at Stanford, as well as the 1,000+ therapists in the TEAM certification program at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California, are bilingual.

Woodland Hills

Many of you will remember Dr. Michael Greenwaldwho was featured on a recent podcast (Social Anxiety Begone!). That podcast was also a huge hit.

Michael is totally delightful and is offering free TEAM-CBT training / practice groups in the Woodland Hills area. I am hoping that these groups will eventually evolve into a TEAM-CBT treatment and training center in the Los Angeles area. Michael also offers superb TEAM-CBT treatment and his fee range is $225 sliding to $90. You can contact him here.

DrMichael

Michael

Please note that if you are looking for treatment, you will find many additional options at the referral page of my website, www.feelinggood.com/referrals!

david

* * *

Coming up in May, 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Register EARLY if you want to come in person. The in person slots are very limited and always sell out well ahead of time.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online) or $165 (in person)

Click Here To Learn More & Register

180: Feeling Great: The Book and the App!

180: Feeling Great: The Book and the App!

Rhonda and David are joined today by Jeremy Karmel, who is working with David on a new Feeling Great app.

Rhonda begins by reading several amazing emails from fans whose lives have been changed by the podcasts as well as David’s books, including Jessica, Tim, and Mike. Thank you, everyone, for such kind and thoughtful comments!

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This great photo of Rhonda is courtesy of Nancy Mueller, a local photographer who kindly took some pics at my home in Los Altos, California.

David describes his upcoming book, Feeling Great, which will be released in September of 2020. It will move well beyond his first book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, all will incorporate all of the latest hi-speed treatment techniques in TEAM-CBT (aka “Feeling Great Therapy.”) David describes his excitement about the team he is working with to publish his latest book, including Linda Jackson at PESI (the publishing company), and Jenessa Jackson, his editor.

Jeremy describes why he approached David to develop a Feeling Great app. As a Stanford student, he was depressed and had to drop out of school for semester. Antidepressants and talk therapy had done nothing for him, so he was feeling hopeless.

Then Jeremy discovered one of Dr. Burns’ students, Dr. Matthew May, and recovered in just two weeks, which was mind-blowing. Matt was one of the first practitioners in the world to use the new TEAM-CBT, Jeremy felt a tremendous drive to make these powerful new techniques available to people around the world.

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Jeremy Karmel

David and Rhonda, of course, share this goal! In fact, Rhonda has recently gone to Mexico City as well as India to support the sudden and strong emergence of TEAM-CBT in those countries.

Rhonda asks Jeremy many questions about the amazing recovery he experienced in his work with Dr. May, and how he’s been doing since. Then Rhonda, Jeremy, and David address a number of intriguing questions about the new app. For example, there is tremendous evidence from research that David’s first book, Feeling Good, has significant antidepressant effects. In fact, many published studies have confirmed that more than 50% of depressed individuals will recover or improve dramatically within four weeks if you just give them a copy of the book.

Is it possible that an app that incorporates all the great methods in Feeling Good, plus all the new techniques in TEAM-CBT, could be even more effective? And if so, would this mean that an electronic app could even outperform human therapists as well as antidepressant medications?

David says that this has been his dream for more than 40 years, and he thinks this is a definite possibility. Jeremy agrees, since the app, now in creation, has the potential to be far more powerful and systematic than reading a book or even going to a therapist.

Rhonda asks: “Are you trying to put human therapists out of business?”

David believes that there will always be a place for human therapists, since the person to person support and connection is invaluable and desperately needed.

However, the Feeling Great app can actually be a friend of human therapists, just as his book, Feeling Good, has been, working hand in hand with therapists helping to accelerate the recovery of their patients.

In addition, the app can bring rapid help and relief to millions of people worldwide who cannot afford therapy, and those who simply cannot find effective therapy. David emphasizes the goal of having an entirely free version of the app for people without resources.

Rhonda asks: “Will you be doing research as well as self-help “treatment” with the new app?”

The answer to that is absolutely, yes, and the implications for incredible research into the causes and treatments for depression, anxiety and relationship problems are immense, especially if thousands or even tens of thousands of individuals use the Feeling Great app.

For example, David has developed many psychological assessment instruments to help therapists and patients alike, but the costs and time required to develop and validate even a single short test can be substantial. In contrast, one might get more than enough data to evaluate a new instrument in just one day, which is mind-boggling.

In addition, every time someone uses the app, we will learn more and more about what works, and what does not. This type of analysis is vitally important, but practically impossible, or at the very least arduous and confusing, when working with human therapists, due to the complexity of what’s happening, and the intense bias of therapists and researchers alike. The computer, by way of contrast, does not mind being wrong and moving in different and more promising directions!

Rhonda, Jeremy and David will let all of you know when a beta version of the new app, is available, and hopes that many of you will try it out and let us know what you think! David will also let you know when pre-ordering for his new book, Feeling Great will be available as well!

David and Rhonda

References on Homework Compliance and Motivation

Burns, D. D., Shaw, B. F., & Crocker, W. (1987). Thinking styles and coping strategies of depressed women: An empirical investigation. Behavior Research and Therapy, 25(3): 223 – 225.

Burns, D. D., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1991). Coping styles, homework compliance and the effectiveness of cognitive – behavioral therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59(2): 305 – 311.

Burns, D. D., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1992). Therapeutic empathy and recovery from depression in cognitive – behavioral therapy: a structural equation model. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60(3): 441 – 449.

Burns, D. D., & Spangler, D. (2000). Does psychotherapy homework lead to changes in depression in cognitive behavioral therapy? Or does clinical improvement lead to homework compliance? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(1): 46 – 59.

Burns, D. D., & Spangler, D. (2001). Can We Confirm Our Theories? Can We Measure Causal Effects? A Reply to Kazantzis et al. (2001). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69(6), 1084-1086.

Burns, D., Westra, H., Trockel, M., & Fisher, A. (2012) Motivation and Changes in Depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research DOI 10.1007/s10608-012-9458-3 Published online 22 April 2012.

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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.

 

Coming up in 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

#179: My Husband is Leaving Me. I Think He Needs Help!

#179: My Husband is Leaving Me. I Think He Needs Help!

Rhonda and David are joined today by Dr. Michael Greenwald, who was in the studio following his recording of last week’s podcast. We address a fascinating question submitted by a podcast fan:

Sally asks” “How can I help my depressed husband who is leaving me?”

Hello Dr David,

My husband is going through severe depression and anxiety. He blames me frequently for all the bad decisions he made, and he says he married the wrong woman.

He regrets almost every decision he made and says he made the decision [to marry me] under my pressure. Our marriage of 20 years is almost leading to separation.

I don’t want to separate, but I don’t know how I can improve the situation. He doesn’t want to go to any doctor.

Do you think if I decide to go to TEAM certified therapist, they can work on me to get him out of his depression? If yes, how many sessions will it take?

Sally

David, Rhonda and Michael discuss this sad and difficult situation that Sally describes. Feeling loved and cared about is vitally important to nearly all of us, and when an important relationship is threatened, it can be extremely painful.

It sounds like Sally’s husband may be on the verge of leaving her. David describes a powerful and paradoxical strategy he described in Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, that he has often used to help abandoned wives. The approach is the opposite of “chasing,” and is based on experimental research on the most effective ways of shaping the behavior of rats!

It also sounds like Sally and her husband have some significant difficulties communicating in a loving and supportive way, like nearly all couples who are not getting along, and certainly some couples therapy or consultation might be a useful step. However, the prognosis for couples therapy isn’t terribly positive unless both partners are strongly committed to each other, and willing to work on their own problems, as opposed to trying to change or “fix” the other person.

We place a strong emphasis on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, especially the listening skills, when criticized by a patient, family member, colleague, or just about anyone. If Sally committed herself to learning to use these skills—which are NOT easy to learn—she might be able to develop a more loving and satisfying relationship with her husband, whether or not they separate or stay together. David expresses the opinion that her fixation on “helping” or “fixing” him might be misguided, and might actually irritate him and drive him away.

Rhonda, Michael and David illustrate David’s “Intimacy Exercise,” which is a way of learning to use the Five Secrets, and they practice with three of the criticisms Sally has heard from her husband:

  1. “You pressured me into marrying you.”
  2. “You’re to blame for all the bad decisions I’ve made.”
  3. “I married the wrong woman.”

After each exchange, the person playing Sally’s role receives a grade (A, B, C, etc.) along with a brief analysis of why, followed by role-reversals. These role play demonstrations might be interesting and useful for you, too, because you’ll see how this exercise works, and your eyes will also be opened to just how challenging it can be to respond to a painful criticism in a skillful way, and how mind-blowing it is when you do it right. You will also see that trained mental health professionals often make mistakes when learning these skills, and how you can increase your skills through this type of practice.

David emailed Sally with some additional resources that could be helpful to her.

Hi Sally,

Thank you so much for your question, and for giving us the permission to read and discuss your question on a podcast. We will, however, change your name to protect your identity.

For referrals for treatment, you can check the referral page on my website,  or go to the website of the Feeling Good Institute. There may be some excellent therapists in your area, too.

I would recommend the recent Feeling Good Podcast on “How to Help, and How NOT to Help.” . The idea is that listening is sometimes far more effective and respectful than trying to “help” someone who is angry with you.

Also, the podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, starting with #65, could be helpful, along with my book, Feeling Good Together. There’s also search function on almost every page of my website, and if you type in “Five Secrets,” you’ll get a wealth of free resources.

Your husband might benefit from my book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, available on Amazon for less than $10. Research studies indicate that more than 50% of depressed individuals improve substantially within four weeks of being given a copy of this book, with no other treatment. However, the depressed individual must be looking for help, and it’s not clear to me whether the treatment is more your idea, or his idea.

You seem to be asking for training in how to treat your husband. Perhaps, instead, you could learn to respond to him more skillfully and effectively using the Five Secrets. Learning how to do psychotherapy requires many years of training, and since he is not asking you for treatment or for help, that plan does not seem likely to be effective, at least based on what I know.

In fact, trying to “treat” someone who is clearly annoyed with you runs the danger of creating more tension and anger, but this is not consultation, just general teaching. You would have to consult with a mental health professional for suggestions. Obviously, we cannot treat you or make any meaningful treatment recommendations in this context.

But there is no doubt in my mind that there are many things you can do to improve the way you communicate with him and relate to him, if that would interest you. But this would require looking at your own role in the relationship, as well as lots of hard work and practice to learn to use the Five Secrets.

Sincerely,

David D. Burns, M.D.

Thanks for listening to today’s podcast!

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.

Coming up in 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

#178: Social Anxiety Be Gone! The Awesome Atlanta TEAM Therapy Demonstration!

#178: Social Anxiety Be Gone! The Awesome Atlanta TEAM Therapy Demonstration!

In today’s podcast, Rhonda and David are honored to interview Dr. Michael Greenwald, a courageous clinical psychologist who helped make the Atlanta Intensive a truly amazing event. Michael volunteered for the live demonstration to work on his lifelong problem with social anxiety, which seems to be a popular topic these days, and likely a personal problem for many podcast fans.

My co-therapist was Thai-An Truong, a highly respected TEAM therapist and TEAM therapy trainer from Oklahoma City. Thai-An also joins today’s podcast via Zoom and dialogues with Michael for the first time since the intensive.

The session with Michael was powerful and inspiring, with a good 50% of the audience in tears (of joy) at the end. Michael recorded the session on his cell phone, but the quality was not up to the quality of our podcast recordings, so he agreed to fly up to the “Murietta Studios” from his home in Los Angeles so we could at least describe what happened and share the magic with you. If we can find a way to do some sound enhancement on the cellphone recording of the session, we will likely publish it as a separate mid-week podcast for those who like to hear the incredible therapeutic process unfolding in real time.

If you review Michael’s Daily Mood Log at the start of the session, you’ll see that he was feeling depressed, anxious, ashamed, worthless, lonely, self-conscious, discouraged and stuck, and all of these feelings were intense. In addition, he told us that he wasn’t feeling much joy, self-esteem, pleasure or satisfaction in his life.

But the strongest feeling was anxiety. He said that coming up on stage to face his fears was an enormous challenge, and that this was the first time he’d ever done something like this. We will do T = Testing again at the end to see what changed, and by how much. We’ll also ask Michael to complete the Empathy and Helpfulness surveys, so we can find out how he experienced Thai-An and David during the session.

You may be saddened by the upsetting event Michael recorded at the top of his Daily Mood Log, which was “sitting with my son and trying to make conversation with him.” He said their conversations were always pretty superficial, and that he would typically leave the room after short interactions with his son because he felt so anxious.

Here’s an example of a typical exchange. Michael’s son, a graduate student in clinical psychology, was working on his applications to internship programs.

Michael: What’s up?

Son: I’m working on my applications to internship programs.

Michael: That’s good. How’s it going? Are you getting them in on time?

Son: Yah, it’s fine.

Michael: Are you completing them? Do you want me to look at them?

Son: All fine.

If you review the negative thoughts on Michael’s Daily Mood Log, you’ll see that he felt like a failure as a father because he did not know how to get close to his son or how to tell him just how much he loved him. He was telling himself things like this:

  • Something is wrong with me because I can’t talk to him. 100%
  • I am failing him as a father. 100%
  • He deserves so much better than me. 100%
  • He must wish he had a different father. 95%
  • And more.

I was sad to see that Michael had been beating up on himself pretty badly for years, and I’m pretty sure that the therapists in the audience felt the same way, because it was so clear that he was a tremendously humble, giving and loving father who was totally devoted to his sons. I found myself thinking, “My gosh, I wish I’d been half the father that Michael is!”

The E = Empathy phase of the session lasted about 30 minutes. Michael indicated that Thai-An and I had done a good job, and that he felt understood and accepted, so we went on to A = Assessment of Resistance in a step-by-step manner, using these tools:

  • The “Invitation Step” to find out if he was ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work on his social anxiety
  • The “Miracle Cure” question to find out what he hoped would happen in the session
  • The “Magic Button,” to see if he’d want all of his negative thoughts and feelings to disappear suddenly, just by pushing it
  • “Positive Reframing,” asking Michael these two questions about each negative thought or feeling:
    1. “What does this negative thought or feeling show about you and your core values that’s positive and awesome?”
    2. “What are some benefits, or advantages, of this negative thought or feeling?”

At first, these questions didn’t make any sense to Michael, since he was so used to thinking about his negative thoughts and feelings in a negative light, thinking they were “bad” and were the result of some kind of personality defect or mental disorder, like “social anxiety disorder” described in the DSM5. This is also the hardest part of TEAM-CBT for therapists to learn, because it is so anti-intuitive.

But as the list of positives grew, Michael began to “get it,” and we could actually see his mood lightening up before our very eyes. It was so cool, and this was the first hint the audience had that something remarkable was afoot. This, for sure, is one of the most powerful and innovative components of TEAM-CBT.

  • The “Pivot Question” and “Magic Dial” Question. Michael decided it wouldn’t be such a great idea to press the Magic Button, since then all of the positives on the Positive Reframing list would go down the drain along with his negative thoughts and feelings.

He decided, instead, to dial down his negative feelings to much lower levels that would allow him to feel better without losing any of the positives. You can see this on the “% Goal” column of his DML

For example, he decided that it would be desirable to dial his depression down from 85% to 20%, since some sadness was appropriate, given his difficulties getting close to his son. In fact, if his depression disappeared completely, it would be like saying he didn’t really care. Michael decided to dial down the rest of his negative feelings as well in the range of 5% (for discouraged and stuck) to 15% (for anxiety), and 10% for the rest of his negative feelings.

This ended the A = Assessment of Resistance phase of the session, and that took about 25 minutes.

We then went on to M = Methods, focusing on his negative thoughts, one at a time, and attacking them with a variety of techniques like Identify the Distortions, Externalization of Voices, Acceptance / Self-Defense Paradigms, Examine the Evidence, and the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique.

At the end, we went into the audience so Michael could ask participants if they were judging him, and what they thought about him as a father. This is called the Survey Technique, and it is usually pretty threatening to people with social anxiety, or any of us, really! But as you’ll hear in the podcast, the feedback he received was jaw-dropping.

Thai-An joined us at the end and dialogued with Michael about the loneliness he’d struggled with, as well as how he could most effectively share his feelings of love and insecurity with his son. His “homework” after the session was to call his son and report back to all of us the next morning!

The next morning, Michael reported that he’d had the most phenomenal dialogue ever with his son! He was practically floating on air, and reports that after the intensive, his life has changed dramatically in many ways, including:

  • A terrific relationship with his son.
  • Feelings of true joy, even ecstasy, that he’d never previously experienced or even thought possible.
  • Way better connections with people in general, due to being open and vulnerable for the first time.
  • Greatly improved clinical experiences as a result of using TEAM-CBT in his clinical work. In fact, he is thinking of starting a free weekly TEAM-CBT practice group in the Los Angeles area, and hopefully opening a Feeling Great treatment center somewhere down the line. Make sure you contact Michael if you are interested joining his weekly practice group. (drmichaeldg@gmail.com)

You can see his amazing mood scores at the end of the session on his final DML. He also gave us perfect scores on the Empathy and Helpfulness scales, and described his experience as a “transformation.”

After the session, he added that he’d seen that people really could improve quickly during other live demonstrations at my workshops, but felt skeptical that a TEAM session could trigger joy, even euphoria, as he’d never actually felt those kinds of feelings. But now, he realized this was actually possible!

I would like to thank Michael, as well as my amazing co-therapist, Thai-An Truong. Thai-An is located in Oklahoma City and specializes in treating post-partum depression with TEAM-CBT. She also does one-on-one case consultation as well as awesome online TEAM training for mental health professionals, including free weekly webinars as well as her “TEAM-CBT bootcamp intensives.” If you would like to contact Thai-An, she can be reached at Thai-An Truong thaian@lastingchangetherapy.com.

After the show was recorded, I received this amazing email from Michael. I think you’ll enjoy it!

Dr. Burns,

Just some additional thoughts I’d like to mention about the changes I’ve noticed since the Atlanta therapy demo. The ones you put in the show notes are totally accurate. But the positive changes I’ve experienced since the demo go way beyond those. I’m not writing this to suggest you include these; I’m great with what you wrote. I only wanted to elaborate a bit on how things have been for me because it’s such an incredible change for me. Please feel free to add to the notes, or not, at your discretion. And by the way, we are now two months post-demo and my mood scores remain essentially at zero with high positive feelings.

My stress tolerance has increased a great deal. Prior to the demo, when I made a mistake or did something stupid, I would rip into myself with intensely harsh criticism and self-judgment (I think I shared with you about the time I dropped the bottle of Cologne as one example showing the different reactions to myself). Now, when the same sorts of things happen, those harsh voices are absent or merely a whisper, and easily dismissed. So there is no accompanying self-hatred like before. I’m far more outgoing with people in general. I feel closer than ever to my friends and family. I’ve been more present and available to my friends and family. I’m more open and far less defensive than I’ve ever been in my life. I feel more positive feelings than ever, and I laugh more than ever. I have more compassion for others as well as for myself. I’m more aware of my emotional world and have more access to my feelings. I’m able to connect more with others in general. The types of situations that would trigger feelings of irritability or anger, no longer do. I’m more able to be available for others, whether in my personal or professional life. I’m closer with my wife, and, honestly, with everyone in my family and social circle. I’ve been in several social gatherings since the demo, and my levels of anxiety have never been lower, and my level of engagement and participation has never been higher; I’m like a different person. I’m more optimistic and hopeful than before.

So I know this is a bit of rambling, but I just wanted to mention these things. As I  had discussed with you during our visit, I’ve been struck by how far-reaching the benefits of the therapy demo have been for me. We focused on the one moment of one problem on the DML. We blew away those negative thoughts and feelings. That outcome, had it been limited to that specific target, would have been amazing and a total success for me. But as per your model, that was a ‘fractal’. And the change in the brain circuits happened with that fractal and the new networks were created, and I feel that they continue to grow. For me, it’s truly been the opposite of the drop of ink in the glass of water, discoloring everything, as a distorted thought or belief will do. The therapy demo was the drop of ‘clarity’ that shined the light on all my distorted thoughts and beliefs at one time. Maybe that’s corny, but this is what it feels like to me.

So feel free to use or not use any of this as you see fit. I only wanted to mention these things. There’s more, but I think this gives the flavor. Thanks again.

Love,

Michael

Thanks for listening today! By the way, if you are looking for CE credits or training in TEAM-CBT, my upcoming workshop on therapeutic resistance on February 9, 2020 will be a good one. You’ll learn how to use the techniques described in today’s podcast.

See below for details and links!

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.

 

Coming up in 2020

High Speed Methods to Reduce Resistance
and Boost Motivation

This is the most important, and least understood, topic in the behavioral sciences. Nearly all therapeutic failure results from the failure to address resistance. Therapists do not understand what causes resistance or how treat it effectively.

Come to this workshop and learn how to melt away resistance for incredibly high-speed recovery!

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

Feb 9. 2020 |  7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

Only a Few Slots Left for the Awesome February 9, 2020 Resistance Workshop!

Only a Few Slots Left for the Awesome February 9, 2020 Resistance Workshop!

Dear colleague,

Our all new workshop is just around the corner! Move fast if you want to attend, since the in-person seats are almost entirely sold out. We still have plenty of room if you want to attend online.

High Speed Methods to Reduce Resistance
and Boost Motivation

February 9, 2020

8:30 am – 4:30 pm PST (11:30 am – 7:30 pm EST)

Join us live online ($135)

or in person ($195) (only a few seats left)

at The Creekside Inn, Palo Alto, CA

(in person includes free breakfast, lunch and schmoozing)

7 CE credits*

For more info or to register

CLICK HERE

This workshop is BRAND NEW. You will learn how to identify and reduce the therapeutic resistance for faster, better outcomes in the treatment of depression (morning session) and anxiety disorders (afternoon session). Not only will your patients recover faster, but your satisfaction with your clinical work will soar as well.

This is a perfect workshop for those new to TEAM as well as seasoned clinicians who want to hone their skills through. Both  in-person and online participants will practice with personalized feedback throughout the day. There will be many skilled helpers from the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California, along with Jill and me, to provide you with personal feedback and mentoring as you hone your new skills.

We consistently receive feedback that our daylong workshops are not only educational but also engaging, lively, and great opportunities for networking. Jill and I will use a combination of didactic teaching, live role plays, and breakout group practice to keep you interested and engaged all day long!

Therapeutic resistance is by far the most important topic in psychotherapy, but most therapists so not understand it and do not have the skills to deal with it, so the possibilities for improving your clinical work are tremendous. I hope you can join us! You’ll love it, and we’ll really enjoy hanging out with you, too!

David Burns, MD

* * *

Coming on May, 17th, 2020

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

* * *

Coming this summer!

The Annual South San Francisco TEAM-CBT Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

This Workshop Will Transform Your Clinical Work
and Personal Life as Well

Learn More and Register