088: Role-Play Techniques —Feared Fantasy Revisited

088: Role-Play Techniques —Feared Fantasy Revisited

088: Feared Fantasy, Part 2, and the Anti-Brushfire Technique*

Hi everybody!

Fabrice and I are thrilled to share this podcast with you, which I think you will really enjoy! We decided to include a second podcast on the Feared Fantasy Technique since it is so dynamic and powerful. We will also demonstrate the “Anti-Brushfire Technique,” which is another useful role-playing technique for individuals who fear disapproval.

We are joined tonight by two members of my weekly Stanford training group for Bay Area mental health professionals, Alisha Beal and Werner Spitzbaden. Both have brought along lists of some of their negative thoughts, which are based on real concerns.

Alisha has just completed our 12-week introductory “newbies” training group in TEAM-CBT. That group will merge with our “advanced” group next week, and she is feeling anxious and insecure for two reasons:

  1. She is concerned that people in the advanced group will think she’s not up to speed, and she’s worried that she will make a fool or herself when she has to practice techniques and get feedback from her colleague or answers questions in the class.
  2. Alisha blushes easily and is concerned that people will think she isn’t very bright and doesn’t know any anything when they see her blushing.

These concerns feel very real, and trigger fairly strong feelings of anxiety! Her negative thoughts included these:

  1. I’ll mess up.
  2. They’ll think I didn’t learn anything.
  3. I’ll blush and they’ll know I don’t know what I’m doing.
  4. I’ll make a fool of myself.
  5. David will realize that he wasted time and people when he created the introductory training group.

Werner’s concerns are similar. He has been in the advanced group for many months and has been doing a tremendous job of learning TEAM-CBT. However, he hasn’t work as a therapist for several years, but has been doing administrative work for a prominent California health delivery system. Werner is excited about the new TEAM-CBT skills he’s been developing, and wants to get back into clinical work. He has just accepted a part time position at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California.

This is great, but Werner is worried that his therapy skills won’t be good enough, and he’s afraid that the other staff members may judge him. He’s telling himself:

  1. I won’t succeed.
  2. I should know so much more than I do!
  3. I won’t do a good job!!
  4. I’ll develop a bad reputation, and no one will want to work with me.
  5. They’ll judge me and think that I’m not competent.

As you can see, although the details of his situation are quite different from Alisha’s, the underlying fears are similar.

And perhaps you’ve had similar fears and insecurities at times as well! Have you? I know that I’ve often felt that way! And that’s one of the reasons I find the techniques in this podcast so incredibly helpful and fascinating!

As you listen to the podcast, you will see what happens when Alicia and Werner both enter into an Alice and Wonderland Nightmare World where they will confront the monster they fear the most. I think you will find the results interesting, powerful, and entertaining, as they both suddenly achieve what the Buddhists have called “laughing enlightenment” for 2500 years!

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

 

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

 

Coming in June! One of my best two-day workshops ever!

“Scared Stiff: Fast, Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders”
a two-day workshop Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Associates
June 4 -5, 2018 Calgary, Canada
June 6 – 7, 2018 Winnipeg, Canada
Mike Christensen and several others will be joining me at both locations to help out with supervision of the small group exercises. You’ll LOVE this workshop and you’ll learn TONS of powerful techniques to treat every type of anxiety. You’ll learn how to heal your clients and your own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt as well!

I greatly appreciate your support, and hope you will continue to spread the word about TEAM-CBT and www.feelinggood.com. i am trying hard to reach as many people as possible with my free programming and blogs designed to help individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, and habits and addictions, as well as the therapists who treat them!

David

 

 

086: Role-Play Techniques (Part 4) — Feared Fantasy

086: Role-Play Techniques (Part 4) — Feared Fantasy

This is the fourth in a series of podcasts on several powerful role-playing techniques we use in TEAM-CBT. Today, we’re going to highlight the Feared Fantasy Technique.

Here, in a nutshell, is why I created this technique. In order to get over any form of anxiety, exposure is absolutely necessary. Exposure is not a complete treatment for anxiety, and is only one of 40 methods I use to treat anxiety, but it always MUST be included in the treatment package.

However, sometimes, people have fears that you cannot easily confront in reality. For example, you may have the hidden fear that others would judge you if they knew how insecure you felt inside, or if you failed at something, or if they were way more successful than you. You can’t just say to someone, “Do you think less of me because I’m actually quite insecure?” They’ll just deny it, and you’ll feel like a nut!

So I created the Feared Fantasy Technique. Essentially, you invite the patient to enter an Alice-in-Wonderland Nightmare World where their worst fear comes true, and where people not only think of you what you most dread, but they also mercilessly tell it to your face. This gives patients the chance to face the monster. In most, if not all cases, they suddenly discover, at the gut level, that the monster has no teeth.

Like the Externalization of Voices, this is a two-person technique, although I’ve sometimes done it with many people in groups. In this case, there can be numerous feared “monsters.”

In the two-person version, you and another person, who could be your therapist, go into the Alice and Wonderland Nightmare World and act out one of your worst fears, such as being rejected by an exceptionally hostile critic because you aren’t smart enough or good enough. When you face your worst fear, you often gain liberation from it because you discover that the monster has no teeth. Your worst fears don’t usually turn out to be real monsters, but figments of your imagination that you can defeat with a little logic, compassion, and common sense. You use frequent role-reversals until the monster has been totally crushed.

I am joined in this podcast by our own beloved Dr. Fabrice Nye, and two members of my Tuesday training group at Stanford, Liz Richard, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Dr. Rhonda Barovsky, a Forensic / Clinical Psychologist, along with Stephanie James, an LCSW psychotherapist and radio talk show host from Fort Collins, Colorado, who is visiting the group. Liz is a member of the “newbie” TEAM training group at Stanford and agreed to bring a list of her own negative thoughts that trigger her feelings of insecurity in the group. I am grateful to all of them for helping out with this podcast!

Sometimes, when I am helping a patient challenge a Negative Thought, like “I’m a bad mother” or “I’m a failure as a father,” or “my colleagues would look down on me if they knew how screwed up I actually am,” I start with a gentle technique like the Paradoxical Double Standard that we illustrated in the first podcast on role-playing techniques. It’s a gentle technique that would almost never threaten or upset a patient.

Once the patient has totally crushed the thought, I typically move up to the Externalization of Voices. This is a more challenging and powerful technique that provides a deeper level of recovery / enlightenment and allows me to model the differences between the Self-Defense Paradigm vs. the Acceptance Paradox.

Once the patient has knocked the ball out of the park with the Externalization of Voices, I often move up to the Feared Fantasy. This is the most extreme and powerful technique of all. And the moment the patient again defeats his or her most terrifying fear, the impact can be positive and extreme, and often ends in a kind of uncontrollable laughter The Buddhists call this “laughing enlightenment. It often happens the moment you suddenly realize that your worst fear was nothing more than a gigantic cosmic hoax!

You may want to read a brief description of how to use the Feared Fantasy Technique that I created several years ago for my training groups and workshops. At the end, you’ll find a comparison of the Externalization of Voices, Paradoxical Double Standard, and Feared Fantasy, along with a table contrasting the Self-Defense Paradigm with the Acceptance Paradox.

The example I am using in the write-up below is not the example in the podcast, but one I sometimes use in teaching. Often, participants are afraid to do role-playing in front of the group because of thoughts like these:

  1. I’ll probably look foolish and make a fool of myself.
  2. I’ll screw up and fail.
  3. People will judge me and think less of me.
  4. They’ll laugh at me and tell other people about what a loser I am!

It is difficult to confront these fears in reality since people generally don’t have these kinds of negative judgements toward colleagues in the group who are feeling insecure. In addition, if someone did have these kinds of thoughts they would deny having them. But in the Alice-in-Wonderland Nightmare World, people DO have these kinds of thoughts about you, and they DON’T deny them! So, it can be challenging at first to have to confront these kinds of mean-spirited perceptions, and incredibly freeing once you defeat them!

Feared Fantasy*

This is a form of Cognitive Exposure

  • Some fears are not easily confronted in reality

General instructions

Work in dyads. Decide who will play the role of therapist and who will play the role of patient

  • Use the workshop / seminar performance anxiety example

Therapist Instructions

  1. Explain that you’re going to enter an Alice-in-Wonderland Imaginary world where there are two strange rules:
  • If you think people are looking down on you, they really are.
  • Furthermore, they get right up in your face and verbalize all their negative thoughts about you. They aren’t at all nice. They try to humiliate.
  1. Ask the patient which role she or he wants to play first. Explain that you’ll do role-reversals, so the choice is not terribly important.

We’ll assume that you’ve chosen the performance anxiety example, and that you, the therapist, will start out in the role of a rejecting, judgmental audience member or friend. Your patient will play the role of himself or herself.

Now criticize your patient, saying the things that he or she would be afraid to hear, such as:

  • “Hey, I was in the audience when you did that role-play with Dr. Burns. You really looked foolish and I’ve been laughing at you ever since.”
  1. After your patient responds to each attack, ask who won the exchange. If the patient did not “win big,” do a role-reversal and see if you can come up with a more powerful response.

Tips on Defeating the Imaginary Critic

When you’re under attack, try to defeat the imaginary critic

  • You can use Self-Defense, the Acceptance Paradox, or a combination of the two

If the Self-Defense Paradigm was ineffective, try

  • The Acceptance Paradox
  • Or a combination of Acceptance and Self-Defense

If the Acceptance Paradox was ineffective, try

  • The Self-Defense Paradigm
  • Or a combination of Acceptance and Self-Defense

Comparing the Paradoxical Double Standard,
Externalization of Voices and Feared Fantasy*

Technique Patient’s Name Your Name Role-Reversals?
Paradoxical Double Standard His or her real name The name of an imaginary dear friend of the same gender as the patient. Preferably, it is not someone the patient actually knows. No
Externalization of Voices His or her real name Same name as the patient Yes
Feared Fantasy His or her real name You play the role of some judgmental or critical person the patient is afraid of. Yes

 

Comparing the Self-Defense Paradigm with the Acceptance Paradox*

Strategy

General Concept Negative Thought

Example of How to Defeat the NT

Self-Defense Paradigm You defeat the NT by arguing with it and insisting that it’s distorted and not true. A patient who suddenly relapses several weeks after recovery will often have this thought, “This shows that the therapy didn’t work and that I really am a hopeless case.” “That’s ridiculous. I had a fight with my wife last night, so it’s not surprising that I’d be feeling upset. The therapy was very effective, and this would be a good time to pull out the tools I learned and get to work.”
Acceptance
Paradox
You defeat the NT by buying into it and insisting that it is true, but you do this with a sense of humor or inner peace. During a moment of insecurity, a therapist may have the thought, “I’m not as good as I should be.” “As a matter of fact, I still have tons of flaws and a great deal to learn. Even when I’m 85 years old, there will still be tons of room for learning and improving, and that’s kind of exciting.”

The Self-Defense Paradigm is especially helpful for the types of NTs patients have during relapses, and it’s a good idea to prepare them to talk back to these thoughts when they first recover, and before they actually relapse, using the Externalization of Voices.

The Acceptance Paradox is especially helpful for the types of NTs that lead to feelings of worthless, inferiority, or a loss of self-esteem.

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming in May!

May 20th, 2018  Advanced, High-Speed CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety A one day workshop by Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt. 6 CE Credits, $135
You can join in person or online from wherever you live!

There are only a few spots left for the live workshop in Palo Alto, but we still have room for you to join us for the online version. We will have helpers to guide the small group exercises for those online, as well as those who attend in person.

Coming in June! One of my best two day workshops ever!

“Scared Stiff: Fast, Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders”
a two-day workshop Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Associates
June 4 -5, 2018 Calgary, Canada
June 6 – 7, 2018 Winnipeg, Canada
Mike Christensen and several others will be joining me at both locations to help out with supervision of the small group exercises. You’ll LOVE this workshop and you’ll learn TONS of powerful techniques to treat every type of anxiety. You’ll learn how to heal your clients and your own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt as well!

I greatly appreciate your support, and hope you will continue to spread the word about TEAM-CBT and www.feelinggood.com. i am trying hard to reach as many people as possible with my free programming and blogs designed to help individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, and habits and addictions, as well as the therapists who treat them!

David

 

 

083: Role-Play Techniques (Part 1) — Externalization of Voices / Acceptance Paradox

083: Role-Play Techniques (Part 1) — Externalization of Voices / Acceptance Paradox

This is the first several podcasts on the Role-Playing Techniques David has created. They include:

  • Externalization of Voices (with Acceptance Paradox and Self-Defense Paradigm)
  • Paradoxical Double Standard Technique
  • Feared Fantasy
  • Devil’s Advocate
  • Forced Empathy
  • Man from Mars
  • And more

David’s explains that he began developing role-playing techniques in the early days of cognitive therapy because many of the Beckian techniques, such as Examine the Evidence and the Socratic Technique–while sometimes very helpful, were sometimes a bit dry, and he wanted to include punchier and more powerful and dynamic techniques in his therapeutic toolkit. These role-playing techniques are just one part of what sets TEAM-CBT apart from traditional, Beckian CBT.

Today, he explains and demonstrates the Externalization of Voices, which is always combined with the Self-Defense Paradigm and the Acceptance Paradox. He is joined by Fabrice, of course, and “Sarah,” one of the members of his Tuesday training group at Stanford. Sarah has volunteered to use a personal example in the podcast to help demonstrate the Externalization of Voices.

Sarah has brought a partially complete Daily Mood Log to the session. The Upsetting Event was that Sarah has decided to move to Austin, Texas in two weeks. She has many moderately strong negative feelings about the move, including sadness (30), anxiety and nervousness (75), inadequacy (60), loneliness (75), self-consciousness, and discouragement (70). She also felt stuck and defeated (70). The numbers in parentheses indicate how strong each type of feeling was on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 100 (extremely.)

Her Negative Thoughts include:

  • “All of my friends are ahead of me in life (careers and relationships).”
  • “I should be further along in my career and I should be 100% certain this is the best career for me in the long term.
  • “For the most part, I haven’t helped most of my clients very much.”
  • “My anxiety over the past year indicates that I’m in the wrong profession.”
  • “I’ll never get back in the great shape, physically and emotionally, that I was in three years ago.”
  • “Moving to California set my life back by a year.”
  • “I won’t be able to make new friends in Austin.”
  • “I will be lonely and without friends.”
  • “I won’t be able to cope with stress.”
  • “My therapy skills aren’t good enough,”

and more.  Her belief in many of her Negative thoughts is quite high, in the range of 70% to 100%. However, her belief in one of them, “Moving to California set my life back by a year,” was only 20%.

Although David did not intend this to be a live therapy session, but rather a practice session to demonstrate how the Externalization of Voices works, David does some brief paradoxical Agenda Setting first, since Sarah’s example is real, and not made up. David uses several techniques to melt away Sarah’s Outcome Resistance, including:

  • The Invitation
  • The Miracle Cure Question
  • The Magic Button
  • Positive Reframing

During the Positive Reframing, David asks Sarah two things about her negative thoughts and feelings:

  1. What does each negative thought or feeling reveal about you and your core values that is positive and awesome?
  2. What are some advantages, or benefits, of each negative thought or feeling?

They come up with a list of ten positives, including these: “My negative thoughts and feelings show that

  1. I’m realistic and honest.
  2. I’m thoughtful.
  3. I’m committed to self-care, since I want to have good mental and physical health.
  4. I’m motivated to grow and improve my therapy skills.
  5. I have compassion for my clients and want to give them the best care that I can.
  6. I’m honest about my shortcomings.
  7. I’m humble.
  8. I have high standards.
  9. I want to connect with others.
  10. I’m committed to my career.

They conclude the Paradoxical Agenda Setting with the Magic Dial. Sarah decides to lower her negative feelings f to much lower levels, in the range of 5% to 15%.

Then, David asks Sarah which Negative Thought she wants to work on first. She chose the thought about never being able to get back into top physical and mental shape again. They identify the many cognitive distortions in the thought, such as All-or-Nothing Thinking, Overgeneralization, Mental Filter, Discounting the Positive, Fortune-Telling, Magnification and Minimization, Emotional Reasoning, Should Statements, and self-Blame.

Then David explains how the Externalization of Voices works, and they launch into the technique. David starts out as the “Negative Sarah,” and attacks her with the Negative Thought she wanted to attack first, using the second-person, “You.” Sarah responds in the role of the “Positive Sarah,” using the first-person, “I.”

Sarah fairly quickly knocks the ball out of the park, and easily crushes the Negative Thought David has attacked her with. Then David attacks Sarah with the rest of her Negative Thoughts, one at a time, doing occasional role-reversals to illustrate different ways to attack the thought. They continue doing role-reversals until Sarah described her victory over each Negative Thought as “huge.”

This only takes a few minutes. Then Sarah re-rates her negative feelings on the Daily Mood Log, and nearly all have been reduced to zero. David cross-examines Sarah to find out if this amazingly rapid and dramatic change was real, or if she was just being “nice” to try to produce a good role-play for David!

Fabrice raps up the podcast with his (as usual) great interview with David and Sarah, bringing out many of the teaching points during the session. He emphasizes that you can actually use many of David’s 50 Methods when doing Externalization of Voices, and points out the power of “Let’s Be Specific” that David demonstrated during the role-playing.

Next week: The Paradoxical Double Standard Technique!

Coming Soon! Advanced, High-Speed TEAM-CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety 

We warmly invite you to attend this fabulous, one-day workshop by Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt on Sunday, May 20th, 2018. Click on the link above for registration and more information.

  • 6 CE Credits
  • The cost is $135
  • You can join in person or online from wherever you live!

You will enjoy learning from David and Jill, working together to bring powerful, healing techniques to life in a clear, step-by-step way. Their teaching style as a team is entertaining, funny, lucid, and inspiring. This is a day you will remember fondly!

In the afternoon, you will have the chance to do some personal healing so you can overcome your own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. David and Jill promise to bring at least 60% of the audience into a state of spiritual and psychological enlightenment, WITHOUT years of meditation. That’s not a bad deal at all!

You will LOVE this workshop. Seating for those who attend live in Palo Alto will be strictly limited, and seats are filling up fast, so move rapidly if you are interested.

Jill and I hope you can join us!

Fabrice and I hope you like our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and five star ratings if you like what we’re doing!

Subscribe

At least one listener has had problems leaving an iTunes review from his i-phone, so Fabrice has created some simple to follow instructions if you need help.

 

 

034: Live Session (Mark) — Methods Phase, cont’d. (Part 6)

034: Live Session (Mark) — Methods Phase, cont’d. (Part 6)

Part 6—M = Methods (cont’d)

 

IMG_1860

Podcast 34: Live Therapy Session with Mark: “I’ve been a failure.”

M = Methods (cont’d)

In the last podcast, David and Jill helped Mark challenge one of his negative thoughts, “There must be a defect in my brain that prevents me from developing a loving relationship with my son,” using Identify the distortions and the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique. In this podcast, they continue encouraging mark to challenge his negative thoughts using additional techniques, including the Externalization of Voices, which is arguably the most powerful Cognitive Therapy technique ever created. The goal of the Externalization of Voices is to create genuine and lasting change at the gut level.

Although it is one of the first cognitive Therapy techniques Dr. Burns created, it is rarely used by cognitive therapists in the United States, perhaps because it is so edgy, or perhaps because it is sophisticated and requires a high degree of therapist skill. The Externalization of Voices is often paired with another technique Dr. Burns created called the Acceptance Paradox. The goal of the Acceptance Paradox is a profound and lasting change in the patient’s core beliefs and values, and it sometimes triggers spiritual enlightenment, although it is an entirely secular method.

Jill and David also use the Semantic Method and Re-attribution in this segment, and end with a brief illustration of how Mark might interact differently with his son using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. David and Jill emphasize that this is the “External Solution,” and that up to this point in the session they’ve been working on the “Internal Solution.”

In the next podcast, Jill and David will return to T = Testing to find out how Mark feels at the end of the session, and how he rates Jill and David for Empathy, Helpfulness, and other measures of the therapeutic relationship. At the end of the session, Dr. Burns asks Mark if the change was real, or simply something fake for the purpose of the podcast. At that point, something stunning happens, which turned out to be the highlight of the entire session. So stay tuned!

And thank you, so much, for your ongoing support of our efforts! We all greatly appreciate your many kind and encouraging comments and emails on our podcasts. That motivates us to work really hard (and joyously) to bring more of this kind of teaching to you!

One quick note. I do not answer messages from Facebook, as I am getting far more than I could ever attend to. Which is great, but sad for me since I don’t want people to feel ignored. The best way to contact me is to make comments at the end end of my blogs, as I often respond to those, or simply to contact me through my website, feelinggood.com.

David