159: Live Therapy with Marilyn: “What if I die without having lived a meaningful life?”

159: Live Therapy with Marilyn: “What if I die without having lived a meaningful life?”

The Secret of a Meaningful Life

One of my favorite podcasts of all time, and one of the most frequently downloaded, was the live session with Daisy (podcast #79): “What’s the Secret of a Meaningful Life?” You may recall that Daisy and her husband, Zane, were looking forward with dread to the possibility of childlessness, since their efforts at pregnancy had so far failed, and Daisy was asking if she could possibly have a joyful and meaningful life without children.

In today’s podcast we return to the same type of question from the other end of the spectrum. When we age and look back on our lives, and realize that our days are numbered, we may once again, “Have I lived a meaningful life?”

Do you know how to answer this question? What, in your opinion, is the secret of a meaningful life?

If the answer to this question is important to you, you might enjoy today’s podcast, which features, once again, two beloved friends and colleagues, Dr. Marilyn Coffee and Dr. Matthew May.

Matt and I first treated Marilyn for intense depression, anxiety, and anger two years ago at the time of her unexpected and shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 non-smoker’s lung cancer. Marilyn was incredibly depressed and panicky, as you might imagine. If you are interested, you can listen to our initial treatment of Marilyn in podcast #49, “The Dark Night of the Soul.”

One of Marilyn’s concerns at that time was that she had lost her faith in God and had begun to doubt the existence of an after-life. She was intensely self-critical and ashamed, and was also extremely angry because she began doubting her spiritual teachers and thinking of them as frauds.

These doubts were all the more troubling to Marilyn, since she’d been a devout Catholic for her entire life. In fact, she  even has a Master’s Degree in theology, along with several additional Master’s Degrees plus a PhD in clinical psychology! But now she was terrified by the prospect of her own death.

During that initial treatment session, Marilyn overcome her fears, depression, and doubts, and ended up in a state of joy, and even laughter. This rapid transformation confirmed the basis of cognitive therapy, that our emotional pain results from our thoughts, and not from what is actually happening to us. And the thoughts that cause depression and anxiety will be distorted and cruel–I’ve often said that depression and anxiety are the world’s oldest cons.

Following that session, we were flooded with emails praising Marilyn. Oddly enough, many people said she was their spiritual hero. They said they were stunned and grateful her raw courage, testimony, and honesty.

Now, it’s two years later. Sadly, Marilyn has just learned from her doctors that she’s had numerous metastases, and that her lung cancer has spread to the opposite lung, as well as to her bones, brain, liver, and lymph nodes. Marilyn is understandably paralyzed once again by overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, and anger.

Today’s podcast is based on our most recent session with Marilyn about two weeks ago. I have to warn you that the session may be sobering, and even a bit terrifying, but hopefully you will find it to be inspirational and helpful, because sooner or later, we’ll all have to share the prospect of facing our own inevitable death, and asking ourselves, “Have I had a meaningful life?”

We scheduled this follow-up live therapy podcast for three reasons. First, we hoped to provide Marilyn with some relief from the devastating depression that had returned when she learned of her metastases. Second, we wanted to give you, and all of Marilyn’s many fans, an update on what’s happened in the past two years. And third, Marilyn wanted the chance to tell you about some of the positives in her life, since she so often mentions her failures, such as her bouts with alcoholism, and the fact that she never found a loving partner.

Every TEAM session begins with T = Testing. Marilyn had filled out the Brief Mood Survey just before the session began. The scores indicated that Marilyn was struggling with extraordinarily severe depression, anxiety, and anger, and her positive feelings were totally absent as well.

Marilyn brought a partially completed Daily Mood Log to the session. If you take a look, you’ll see all of her intensely Negative Thoughts and devastating feelings about the spread of her cancer. 

During the E = Empathy phase, Matt, Rhonda and I gave Marilyn the space she needed to vent and describe her despair and feelings of terror. We did not try to help or cheer her up. Marilyn cried as she described her fear of dying alone, and vividly recalled a friend who died a horrible death from lung cancer 20 years ago. Marilyn says he could barely breathe, and fears a similar horrific fate.

Marilyn cries, and confesses that she has not been able to cry up until now. She says she suddenly felt a spiritual presence being around Matt, Rhonda, and David.

During the Empathy phase, Matt made many tender comments to Marilyn, shared his own profound sadness, and told Marilyn that joining us today is a gift to him, and to all of us.

Matt and I asked Marilyn how we were doing in Empathy, in terms of understanding how she was thinking and feeling, and whether we were providing warmth, acceptance and support. She gave us high grades. When you listen, please notice that we didn’t do anything to try to help Marilyn, or to try to cheer her up. You can hear Matt simply paraphrasing much of what Marilyn had been saying, acknowledging her feelings, and sharing his own feelings of sadness and warmth toward Marilyn.

After about 25 minutes of empathy, we moved on to the next phase of the session called A = Assessment of Resistance (formerly called Paradoxical Agenda Setting.) We started by asking Marilyn if she wanted any help with the problems she’d been describing, or if she needed more time to talk while we listened and provided support. 

She said that she did want help. Since her remaining time was potentially short, she said she didn’t want to spend it in the misery of overwhelming depression, anxiety, worthlessness, shame, loneliness, hopelessness, and rage.

Then I asked the Magic Button question—If we had a Magic Dial, and all of her negative thoughts and feelings would instantly disappear, with no effort at all, simply by pressing it, would she press the button?Magic Button, v 1

Marilyn immediately said that she WOULD press the button. Almost everybody says this. And it seems obvious. Why would anyone want to feel intense, relentless and overwhelming negative emotions?

Matt, Rhonda, and David debated about whether or not the A = Assessment of Resistance would be needed, since it seemed like Marilyn was suffering so much that she would OBVIOUSLY want help.

We decided to address the resistance, since whenever we’ve skipped it, we’ve usually regretted it.

So just to be safe, we decided to do some Positive Reframing, and asked these two questions about each of the nine categories of intense negative feelings on Marilyn’s Daily Mood Log, such as depression, anxiety, guilt, inferiority, loneliness, hopelessness, rage, and so forth.

  1. What does this negative feeling show about you and your core values that’s beautiful, positive and even awesome?
  2. What are some benefits of this negative feeling? How might it help you?

Surprisingly, Marilyn came up with a list of more than 20 positives with some help from Rhonda, Matt and me. You can take a look at her Positive Reframing List. This process seemed to have a profound calming effect on Marilyn, just as it does on most people.

I think one reason is that culture / society have trained all of us \to think about our negative feelings as defects, or “mental disorders,” like the many that are listed in the DSM5. Positive Reframing turns all of this upside down, and makes you proud of your negative feelings. Paradoxically, this make it possible for you to get rid of the feelings quickly.

We concluded with the Magic Dial, and asked Marilyn what she might want to dial her feelings down to, without getting rid of them completely, since they did have many benefits, and since they also reflected what was most beautiful about her.

Magic Dial, v 1

You can see the result of the Magic Dial on her Daily Mood Log, in the “% Goal” column of her table of negative emotions. For example, she wanted to dial her depression down to 10%, but thought that she’d want to keep the anxiety in the range of 20 – 25. But she said she’d be happy to dial the guilt and shame all the way to zero!

After the A = Assessment of Resistance, which seemed to lift her mood considerably, we went on to M = Methods. After easily identifying the distortions in her thoughts, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Self-Blame, hidden Should Statements, and more, Marilyn was able to challenge and crush her Negative Thoughts pretty quickly using the Paradoxical Double Standard Technique as well as Externalization of Voices. Two strategies seemed important—the Self-Defense Paradigm and the Acceptance Paradox.

I emphasized the overlap between the Acceptance Paradox and Marilyn’s Catholic faith. It is the idea that you cannot, and not have to, earn your way to heaven through your good works. Christianity is based on the idea that we are not saved by our achievements or good work, but rather by the grace of God–which is simply the acceptance of our flawed nature. David emphasizes that these ideas are not exclusive to Christianity, but are woven into most if not all religions.

During this phase of the session, Marilyn reflected on some of the experiences that she’s proud of, things she would like you to know about, like her trip to Nicaragua to attend seminary at the Franciscan School of Theology. During that time, she worked with the oppressed indigenous people in relocation camps following the bombings, and joined the Witness for Peace group.  She describes this as “one of the most transformative and spiritual experiences of my life.”

Many of you are probably not familiar with Marilyn’s fairly extensive arrest record, which she is equally proud of! She explains:

“During the 80s and early 90s, I was arrested several times for political protests, primarily at the Federal Building in San Francisco.  For example, I participated in a major non-violent prayful march at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.  Several of us were arrested and spent a month in jail (tents on the grounds of Santa Rita Jail.)”

Marilyn also wants to know that she was “a damn good therapist.” That’s something I can attest to, having presented with Marilyn on many occasions, including our empathy workshop at one of the prestigious Evolution of Psychotherapy conferences in Anaheim, California.

And still, all of her amazing accomplishments and contributions do not protect her, or any of us, from falling into a black hole of self-doubt and despair from time to time, and when Marilyn falls, the pain she inflicts on herself can be intense. You may notice that the Negative Thoughts on her Daily Mood Log today are very similar to the Negative Thoughts on her Daily Mood Log from two years earlier, during our first session with Marilyn. This confirms the concept of “fractal psychotherapy.” In other words, all of your suffering will be encapsulated in any one brief moment when you are upset. And when you suffer again in the future, it will be that same fractal–the same exact pattern of negative thoughts, distortions and feelings. This is really good news, because the methods that helped you recover initially will be helpful for you when you again fall into the black hole of depression.

The goal of TEAM-CBT is NOT eternal happiness–no human being is capable of that! Rather, the goal is to understand and master the tools that will be helpful for you.

One important teaching point is that Marilyn’s suffering, once again, does not result from her cancer, but rather from her self-critical thoughts, which are both cruel and distorted. She’s been telling herself that she is not religious enough, that she has lost her faith, and that her life has not been meaningful. Fortunately, these Negative Thoughts can easily be challenged and defeated, as you will hear on the podcast.

The entire basis of cognitive therapy is a spiritual idea, that “the truth shall make you free.” Although this is a core Christian teaching from the New Testament (John 8: 32), it is an idea that’s embedded in many religions, including Buddhism, and probably in every religion.

Toward the end of the session, Marilyn described inspiring moments when she feels the most spiritual and the most alive. It’s when she notices and profoundly appreciates the simple things in her life, like seeing a sliver of the moon in the evening when walking her dogs, watching a sunset on the beach at Santa Cruz, her first sip of latte in the morning or a bite of a delicious peach!

Marilyn also described the intense mourning she feels for people throughout the world who are in poverty or pain. She also grieves for animals who are suffering, and feels devastated by the destruction of our natural resources, such as the rain forests in Brazil.

You can see the final T = Testing . As you can see, she met or exceeded her goals for all of her negative feelings. You may be puzzled by the end of session rating for sadness and depression was “50%, but a GOOD 50%!”

Sometimes, feelings of sadness and grief, once the distortions have been eliminated, are are the experiences that can wake us up, and provide the profound sense of meaning we are craving in our lives. The highest human experience, perhaps, is the compassion we sometimes feel for ourselves and others who are suffering. In fact, this may be the true meaning of spirituality.

I call this feeling, “Sadness as Celebration,” and hope to write and talk more about it in a future podcast. 

At the end of the session, Marilyn said, “I feel light!” And gave us all big hugs.

Will it last? Matt wisely suggests some terrific Relapse Prevention Training that you will hear when you listen to the session. Of course, it will be up to Marilyn–and to all of us–to pick up these tools and use them when we again fall into a black hole. This is also an inherently spiritual idea, and is based on the idea that we have the freedom to chose light or darkness.

After the session, Marilyn emailed me and asked if I could include a few additional comments in the show notes. Here’s what she wrote:

Greetings David, my dearest friend,

Words cannot express my gratitude for you, Matt, & Rhonda – what special gifts you are.

I hope the podcast was ok. I am deeply embarrassed because I forgot to express my gratitude and surprise from all the e-mails we received – the compassion and support was/is overwhelming. I hope I can give back! I could never had done this, if I weren’t for you & Matt – and your amazing & compassionate skills.

I also forgot to mention that I probably will never get to New York or Ireland because of finances. I take one day at a time and try to be grateful for the small miracles.

I go to Stanford next Tuesday. I will definitely be in touch.

Thank you again.

I also forgot to mention this – which is VERY important is that I am going through this process sober – not avoiding with alcohol. I am going to more meetings & speaking up.

Thank you again. I cherish our friendship.

With deep gratitude and love. dear friend,

Marilyn

Thank you, Marilyn, for this incredible gift to all of us!

Matt, 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

* * *

You may have missed the Calgary and South San Francisco intensives, but there will be two more awesome workshops
for you this fall.

High-Speed Treatment of Depression
and Anxiety Disorders

A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

November 4 – 7, 2019
The Atlanta, Georgia Intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

* * *

I also have a tremendous one-day workshop scheduled with my colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, that will be potentially life- and career-changing (really!) You will learn powerful skills that will boost your clinical effectiveness and improve your relationships with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Advanced Empathy Tools for Connecting
with Challenging Patients,
Colleagues, Friends, and Loved Ones

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

Oct 6, 2019 | 7 CE hours, $135

Do you have a patient, colleague, friend or loved one who:

  • Complains endlessly but doesn’t listen to any of your good advice?
  • Appears irate, but insists s/he isn’t upset?
  • Refuses to express his / her feelings?
  • Never listens?
  • Argues, and always has to be right?
  • Always has to be in control?
  • Is relentlessly critical?
  • “Yes-but’s” when you try to make a point?
  • Insists you don’t really care—or understand—when you think you do?

Then you’re going to LOVE this workshop with David and Jill. You’ll learn about–

  • The Powerful “Law of Opposites”
  • How to find out how your patients really feel about you–if you dare!
  • How to transform therapeutic failure into success
  • How to talk to people who refuse to talk to you

You’ll also learn–

  • Why your worst therapeutic failure is actually your greatest success in disguise
  • The fine points of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication
  • Three Advanced Empathy Techniques: Multiple Choice Empathy, Changing the Focus, and Positive Reframing
  • And more

There will be lots of small group practice with expert feedback and mentoring to help you refine your skills!

Attend in person or
from your home via Live Streaming

Sign up early because we always sell-out for the in-person seats. Of course, there will be lots of skilled trainers to help the online participants with the small group exercises, so you’ll have a great experience either way.

My one-day workshops with Dr. Levitt are usually pretty awesome! It is always an honor to teach with Jill!

Learn More & Register

 

* * *

Coming up in 2020

High Speed Methods to Reduce Resistance
and Boost Motivation

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

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135

Learn More & Register

 

Is there only one way to do things?

Is there only one way to do things?

Hello everyone,

At my Stanford Tuesday training group this week, one of our members asked a super-important question, “Does David believe there is only one correct way to do things?” By way of coincidence, Rhonda and I recently recorded a podcast on this very topic, and it will be published on Monday. This is the title: “Is Cognitive Therapy a Cure-All for Everything?” You might enjoy it, and you’ll get my thinking on several controversial topics.

If you’re not yet a podcast fan, you and some of your patients might like them. Here’s an email I got just this morning from someone in Kosovo.

Dr. David,

Greetings from Kosovo. Your book has been a wonderful journey on my self-help regarding my anxieties, worries, and stress – so thank you very much. After reading the book I found out about the podcast (very recently) and ever since I started watching all of the episodes one by one from the very first one. The story of Marilyn has hit me deeply and has made me realize how irrational I am being about my problems – although they feel very real to me. However, seeing how Marilyn coped with her severe anxieties, mine went away almost instantly. I’m sending all my love to You, Matt and Marilyn. I have recommended your book and podcast to all of my friends.

Gratefully, Dea

As you can see, Dea actually experienced significant improvement just from listening to the live work with Marilyn. You or your patients might also find that my podcasts o books might greatly accelerate learning and recovery.

You can find a list of all the podcasts and show notes on my website.  In addition, you will find a search function in the right-hand panel of every page. This makes my entire website searchable, which is super-convenient if you want to recommend certain kinds of podcasts to your patients, or if you are looking for self-help. For example, you can type in “Five Secrets of Effective Communication,” “Positive Distortions,” “Anxiety,” “Suicide Prevention,” or whatever you want, and some wonderful resources will pop right up!

david

 * * *

And if you need training, CE credits, or just four days of training and personal refueling, attend one of my upcoming intensives. The Calgary program is coming up in two days but if you move fast, you can still register!

High-Speed Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders—

Attend one of the three Summer / Fall Intensives

With David D. Burns, MD!

Three Great Locations—

Calgary, July 15 to 18, 2019

South San Francisco, July 29 to August 1, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia,November 4 – 7, 2019

 Learn powerful new tools to boost your effectiveness in the treatment of depression and all of the anxiety disorders! Discover how TEAM-CBT can produce extremely rapid and lasting changes for your depressed and anxious clients—and for you.

This workshop will be experiential. You will have the chance to practice lots of innovative techniques in small groups and get immediate feedback so you can refine your skills. You’ll also have the chance to work on your own feelings of self-doubt so you can leave this workshop on a high, with renewed confidence and excitement about your clinical work.

This dynamic workshop offers:

  • State-of-the-art TEAM-CBT techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • Powerful new methods for the treatment of habits and addictions—your own and your clients’!
  • Innovative resistance-busting techniques to boost patient motivation and eliminate “yes-butting.” Learn to pinpoint and eliminate the eight most common forms of therapeutic resistance.
  • Live demonstrations and video clips from actual therapy sessions.
  • Powerful Relapse Prevention Training for lasting results.
  • Lots of fun and the chance to get some much-needed emotional refueling!

The annual intensives are almost always the best workshops of the year. If you can join us this year, they will be even better!

This workshop has been approved for Levels 1 through 3 TEAM-CBT Certification
and is s
uitable for novice as well as highly experienced therapists.
Of course, you’ll get tons of CE credits as well.

The two intensives will be similar, but there are some differences that may be important to you.

Special features at this year’s South SF intensive

  • Sunny Choi will be speaking on “TEAM with Compassion.” Sunny spoke last year and was amazing, so he is returning, as they say, “by popular demand.” He describes incredible, high-speed TEAM therapy to populations with severe problems and extremely limited resources, including immigrants who do not speak English.
  • Dr. Jill Levitt will be joining me as co-therapist for the live demonstration on the evening of day 1. In past years, these dramatic live demos have provided tremendous opportunities for learning. If you have never seen Jill, this will be a real treat for you!
  • I will be joined by many expert helpers from the Feeling Good Institute who will help provide feedback for you during the many practice sessions.
  • There will be two amazing evening sessions to add depth to your training. You’ll be totally exhausted, but chock-full of incredible new skills and insights that can change the direction of your career and transform your personal life as well.

Special features at this year’s Calgary, Canada intensive

  • The three optional evening hikes / meals together will be a highlight for many. While hiking, you will have chances for personal work with David, Q and A, difficult case consultation, and additional practice with the new techniques you are learning.
  • If you don’t want to hike, you can enjoy your evenings with friends or family and refuel for the next day.
  • There will be a live demo on the morning of day 2. In past years, these live therapy sessions have been inspirational and wonderfully informative. Last year’s live therapy demonstration in Whistler was jaw-dropping!
  • And, as you probably know, Jack Hirose always puts on an amazing event, designed to provide you with maximum comfort, delight, and learning!

In both workshops, David promises to catapult at least 65% of the participants into a state of joyous enlightenment. Would you like to finally free yourself from feelings of self-doubt and endless obsessions about whether you’re “good enough?” Check out the registration links now!

Feeling good feels wonderful! You owe it to yourself to feel good! Join me in

Calgary (in two days!)

or

South San Francisco (at the end of July)

or

Atlanta (in early November)

David Burns, MD

Here’s a photo of my esteemed colleague, Mike Christensen, at a recent Canadian workshop.

IMG_20180607_100631_1

 

Register by June 17th and save $100!

Dear colleague,

If you have ever dreamed of bringing extremely rapid healing to your patients, this is a workshop you won’t want to miss. David Burns, MD, will present TEAM-CBT: a new, powerful treatment approach that can produce extremely rapid and lasting changes in severe depression and anxiety. Lectures and demonstrations by a master therapist followed by the opportunity to practice the techniques with your colleagues will leave you with a deeper, richer appreciation of the practice of psychotherapy as well as a variety of tools you’ll be able to apply right away to your work. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to do your own personal work during the workshop so you can experience greater self-esteem and joy in your professional work and in your personal life.

High-Speed Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders

A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

w/ David Burns, MD

32 hrs of CE credit available

Workshops in S. San Francisco and Atlanta!

Register with friends and save 20%!

<Register>

The evening sessions on days 1 and 3 will add another dimension to your workshop experience, and are nearly always the most highly rated workshop segments. You’ll be tired, but joyous, by the end of your intensive, and you’ll leave with a renewed session of joy and optimism!

 

 

“What will I learn at an intensive?”

Dear colleague,

A therapist emailed me to say he was very interested in the upcoming intensives, but wanted to know what he’d learn if he attended. Certainly, a great question, so I put together this list of some of the things I’ll be teaching at this year’s intensives. They’re organized around the T E A M of TEAM-CBT.

T = Testing

  • I’ll illustrate fast, accurate assessment tools that will show you how your patients really feel, and how they feel about you. You’ll also find out how effective you are at every session with every patient. This information may be shocking, but can transform your clinical work.

E = Advanced Empathy Training

  • Five Secrets of Effective Communication
  • Law of Opposites
  • How to transform therapeutic failure into success
  • The five most common empathy errors, and how to avoid them!

A = Assessment of Resistance: New, sophisticated tools that can quickly melt away therapeutic resistance and greatly boost patient motivation

  • Outcome Resistance tools
  • Straightforward Invitation
  • Paradoxical Invitation
  • Miracle Cure Question
  • Specificity
  • Magic Button
  • Positive Reframing
  • Pivot Question
  • Process Resistance tools
  • Dangling the Carrot
  • Gentle Ultimatum
  • Sitting with Open Hands
  • Fallback Position

M = Methods

  • Daily Mood Log
  • Recovery Circle
  • 50 Ways to Untwist Your thinking, including
  • Identify the Distortions
  • Examine the Evidence
  • Be Specific / Shades of Grey
  • The Experimental Technique
  • The Pleasure-Predicting Sheet
  • The Paradoxical Double Standard Technique
  • Externalization of Voices
  • The Acceptance Paradox
  • Cognitive, Classical, and Interpersonal Exposure Techniques, including
    • Gradual Exposure
    • Cognitive Flooding
    • Memory Rescripting
    • Response Prevention
    • Smile and Hello Practice
    • Self-Disclosure
    • Talk-Show Host
    • Shame Attacking Exercises
  • The Hidden Emotion Technique
  • And more

Getting at root causes: How to pinpoint and modify Self-Defeating Beliefs

  • The Individual Downward Arrow
  • The Interpersonal Downward Arrow (psychoanalysis at warp speed!)
  • The Semantic Method
  • The Feared Fantasy

How to overcome habits and addictions, including

  • The Habit / Addiction Log
  • The Paradoxical Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • The Triple Paradox
  • The Anti-Procrastination Sheet
  • The “I stubbornly refused” Technique
  • The Devil’s Advocate Technique

Plus

  • Relapse Prevention Training for lasting results
  • Video of high-speed TEAM-CBT trauma treatment

The goals of TEAM-CBT include rapid, complete and lasting recovery from depression and anxiety. Teaching tools will include lecture, videos, live demonstrations, live therapy, and lots of small group practice with immediate feedback so you can refine your therapy skills.

You’ll also have the chance to do your own personal work if you want, so you can leave the workshop fueled with a renewed sense of excitement about your life and clinical work. I’ve always felt that effective personal work is tremendously important, since the challenges and pressures on therapists can sometimes be intense. When you’ve experienced your own personal transformation, you’re no longer a technician–you’re now a healer!

Finally, all three intensive provide CE credits plus credit toward certification in TEAM-CBT. In fact, you’ll be eligible for Level 1 TEAM certification just for attending!

Thank you so much for your interest!

David Burns, MD

* * *

This year, you have three great intensives to choose from!

High-Speed Treatment of

Depression and Anxiety Disorders

A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

with David Burns, MD

July 15 – 18, 2019, Calgary, Canada

Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

The Calgary intensive will be similar to the SF and Atlanta intensives described below, but there will be no evening sessions. Instead, Dr. Burns will lead optional, informal evening hikes for those who are interested, followed by dinner. On the hikes, you can do personal work, ask questions, practice techniques, or just schmooze with colleagues and have fun!

This intensive is just around the corner, so act fast if you want to attend!

* * *

High-Speed Treatment of

Depression and Anxiety Disorders

A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive

with David Burns, MD

32 hrs of CE credit available

July 29 – August 1, 2019
South San Francisco four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

and

November 4 – 7, 2019
Atlanta, Georgia four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

This will be my first east coast intensive in more than 25 years/

Register with friends and save 20%!

<Register>

The evening sessions on days 1 and 3 will add another dimension to your workshop experience, and are nearly always the most highly rated workshop segments. You’ll be tired, but joyous, by the end of your intensive, and you’ll leave with a renewed session of joy and optimism!

 

 

David’s Awesome Summer Intensives–Are You Planning to Come to One?

High-Speed Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders—

Attend the Summer / Fall Intensives

With David D. Burns, MD!

Three Great Locations—

Calgary, July 15 to 18, 2019

South San Francisco, July 29 to August 1, 2019

Atlanta, November 4 to 7, 2019

What so great about the intensives?

  • Observe live demonstrations of TEAM-CBT with audience volunteers that are cool, powerful and inspirational.
  • Have FUN—lots of neat people to hang out with!
  • Earn TEAM certification credits as well as CE credits.
  • Learn tons of powerful new techniques to boost your effectiveness in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and habits and addictions.
  • Practice in small groups, with immediate feedback to help you refine and master your new skills.
  • Learn to pinpoint the eight most common forms of therapeutic resistance.
  • Learn how to melt away therapeutic resistance for super-fast recoveries.
  • Overcome your own feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, and leave the workshop in a state of joyous enlightenment! You can’t beat that!
  • Lots of tears—and lots of laughter!
  • You’ll work your butt off—but come out with exciting new insights and directions for your clinical work.

Special features at this year’s South SF intensive

  • Sunny Choi will be speaking on “TEAM with Compassion.” Sunny spoke last year and was amazing, so he is returning, as they say, “by popular demand.”
  • Jill Levitt will be joining David as co-therapist for the live demonstration on the evening of day 1. In past years, these dramatic live demos have provided tremendous opportunities for learning.
  • Do your own “solo flight” on the evening of day 3. In previous years, this has been the highlight of the annual SF intensive.
  • I will be joined by many expert helpers from the Feeling Good Institute who will provide feedback and mentoring for you during the many practice sessions. Of course, I’ll be giving you personal feedback, too!

Special features at this year’s Calgary, Canada intensive

  • The three optional evening hikes / meals together will be a highlight for many. While hiking, you will have chances for personal work with David, Q and A, and additional practice with the many new techniques you are learning.
  • There will be a live demo on the morning of day 2.

The summer / fall intensives are almost always my best teaching of the year. If you attend, this year’s intensives will be even better!

The Calgary Intensive will be from July 15 to 18, 2019.
For more information / registration, click here!

The South SF Intensive will be from July 29 to August 1, 2019.
For more information / registration, click here!

The new Atlanta intensive will be from November 4 – 7, 2019,
and will be similar to the South SF Intensive.
This will be my first east coast intensive in 25 years!
For more information / registration, click here!

David Burns, MD

Unsolicited Testimonials from Participants at David’s Workshops

These are anonymous comments on workshop evaluation forms:

  • The live demonstration in the evening was freaking incredible!!!
  • The live demonstration was dynamite! . . . It was beautiful!!
  • The entire process was fantastic!
  • I liked all of it! I appreciated Dr. Burns willingness to be vulnerable with his own flaws and fears.

Here’s a photo of my esteemed colleague, Mike Christensen, at a recent Canadian workshop. We’ll be working together again this year in Calgary!

IMG_20180607_100631_1

Here’s a photo from some of my Sunday hikes in California with therapists from my free weekly training group at Stanford.

 

Anxiety Workshop This Month! Online Slots Still Available!

Anxiety Workshop This Month! Online Slots Still Available!

Don’t miss out on learning from the “dynamic duo”–

David Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD


TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders:

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

Coming up SOON!

Sunday May 19th, 2019

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

Live Online One Day Workshop

$135, 7 CE hours available

Therapists at all levels are welcome.

Learn new skills to reduce resistance and boost patient’s motivation to change. Practice powerful, practical TEAM-CBT techniques to help your patients overcome every form of anxiety rapidly.

  • Lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of online training
  • Online support and dynamic small group training
  • David and Jill will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, and breakout group practice with emphasis on skill building.
  • Workshop will stream live and is easily accessible from anywhere on any device with WiFi. To join, just click on the link provided before the workshop.
  • Completion of this workshop counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification
  • Awesome brief videos
  • Learn how to treat GAD, OCD, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Phobias, PTSD, and more

We Are Sold Out in Person–

But Online Slots are Still Available

REGISTER / LEARN MORE

Jill and I hope to see you at the workshop! We promise it will be fun, helpful, and exciting for you! 

David Burns, MD

132: Ask David: Do we REALLY create our own interpersonal reality? What if you’re being raped?

132: Ask David: Do we REALLY create our own interpersonal reality? What if you’re being raped?

Hi Folks!

Here’s the short version of today’s Ask David questions.

  1. Do depression and anxiety result from medical illnesses, like thyroid problems?
  2. Do we REALLY create our own interpersonal reality? What if you’re being raped? Are you saying that’s your fault? How can that be?
  3. I struggle with anxiety. Why is it a mistake to try to “calm down?”
  4. How do you deal with entitlement? I think my patients should do what I tell them to do! After all, I’m a highly trained professional!
  5. How do you deal with racism, sexism, and other societal barriers? What if the injustice is real and it isn’t “all in your head?”

And here are the longer versions. Fabrice and I hope you enjoy these thoughtful questions submitted by listeners like you!

1. Barbara asks: 1) How are hypothyroidism, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder related, and (2) how are heart disease, depression, and anxiety related?

2. Mark asks: I’m one of your most avid listeners to your podcasts. I’ve listened to most of Feeling Good Podcasts as well as the recordings of your Facebook live broadcasts with Jill. I absolutely love your content and extremely grateful for your insights and the material you put out for free. I’ve heard you say numerous times how in interpersonal relationship problems we create the poor behavior we see in the other.

At what point though, is a threshold crossed and you acknowledge the other in the relationship is creating problems? For example, if your client is being raped by their partner and is being threatened with violence if they dare leave, you wouldn’t say to your client you’re creating that kind of treatment from your partner.

Obviously the above is a very extreme example, but what if its scaled back in terms of severity of abuse, stopping short of physical attacks and threats? Where does a line in the sand get drawn where you acknowledge the client is not creating the problems themselves? I’d deeply appreciate your reply!

3. Angela asks: I was intrigued by your comment in your podcast #88 on Role-Playing Techniques that “trying to calm down is a big mistake. . . then your emotions become your enemies,” but then you said, “that’s a good topic for another podcast.” I hope you do a podcast on that topic!!! I’m eagerly waiting to hear more about that!

4. Julio asks: I’d like to share my experience. I am a therapist and I suffered from, and am still working on, feeling inadequate. I frequently questioned “am I good enough to be a therapist?” “How can I help others if I have issues of my own?”

After reading Feeling Good I realized I frequently jump to conclusions, engage in mind reading, and labeling whenever there is some uncertainty with my clients. At times I might even have blamed them when things didn’t go the way I thought they should go.

I believe I do that to protect my ego, and I might have developed some cognitive distortions related to entitlement such as

  • “I’m a therapist, people are supposed to do what I say”
  • “I worked too hard and too long and potential employers better give me what I deserve”
  • “Because I practice evidence-based therapy, I’m better than 99% of all therapists.”

These entitled thoughts led me to become irate whenever someone didn’t act according to my expectations. I would vacillate between feeling angry and feeling depressed.

I guess when I initially emailed Fabrice I was confused as to how my entitlement develops, but now I’m realizing that it comes from the same distortions that can cause depression. I didn’t know that distortions could produce depression and entitlement.

I’m curious what you and Fabrice think about this. I thoroughly what you and Fabrice think about this. I thoroughly enjoy your podcast and often find myself re-listening to earlier episodes.

5. Holly asks: “ Burns: I have found tremendous value in your books and podcast. I have noticed that you discuss some emails/letters/etc. on your podcast and I have one I’d like to hear you discuss. What are your thoughts on dealing with racism, sexism, and other societal barriers?

For example, it is not uncommon for people with dominant identities (white, male, physically able) to tell women, people of color, or those with physical challenges that their issues are all in their minds and that if they thought differently, then they would have different outcomes.

I am an African-American woman and I don’t believe this (the statistics on access to education, employment, and justice all suggest otherwise). What are you saying (if anything) in your writing, practice about thoughts related to injustice?

Best, Holly

So there you have it! Great questions, and keep them coming!

By the way, one of our podcast fans has written an outstanding and thoughtful article asking if there is a causal link between Donald Trump’s Twitter tweets and anti-Muslim hate crimes for the prestigious journal, Scientific American. Here’s the link

Thanks, David and Fabrice

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Dr. Fabrice Nye currently practices in Redwood City, California and treats individuals throughout the world (but not across U.S. state lines) via teletherapy. You can reach him at fabrice@life.net. You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here.

* * *

THREE COOL UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FOR YOU

TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

by David D. Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD

jill-david

Dr. Jill Levitt and I are offering what I think will be an outstanding workshop on the treatment of anxiety disorders on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Our Sunday workshops are tremendously fun, so consider attending if you are interested. 

The last Sunday workshop in February sold out quickly so register soon if you are interested. You can join in Palo Alto in person or online from anywhere in the world.

THERE WILL BE MANY EXPERT TRAINERS TO GUIDE THE ONLINE PARTICIPANTS DURING THE SMALL GROUP EXERCISES

WHEN: May 19, 2019, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm PST
(11:30 am-7:30 pm EST)

WHERE: Join us live online or in person at the Creekside Inn, Palo Alto, CA.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? $135,

WILL I GET CE CREDITS? YES! 7 CE hours available

WILL I GET CREDIT IN THE TEAM LICENSURE PROGRAM? YES!
Completion of this workshop also counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification

WHO CAN ATTEND? Therapists of all levels are welcome

CAN I REGISTER IF I’M NOT A THERAPIST? Although the workshop is geared for therapists, it will be taught in a clear and basic way that anyone can benefit from.

WILL I HAVE FUN? Yes!

WILL I HAVE GET TO HANG OUT WITH SOME COOL COLLEAGUES? Yes!

WILL I GET AN AWESOME FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH? Yes!

You will love this lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of training with Drs. Burns, Levitt and the Feeling Good Institute Staff. The trainers will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, video, and breakout group practice to enhance skill-building.

REGISTER / LEARN MORE

Act fast if you want to attend!

* * *

And there will be two awesome summer intensives for you this year!

July 15 – 18, 2019
Calgary four-day intensive
Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

 

July 29 – August 1, 2019
South San Francisco four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

 

The Dark Side of Clinical Practice–Protect Yourself and Your Clients

The Dark Side of Clinical Practice–Protect Yourself and Your Clients

Do you know how to predict and prevent suicide?

Treating people with depression and anxiety is, for me, and hopefully for you, an incredible privilege, and a source of tremendous personal satisfaction. I feel lucky to have  career that is so amazingly rewarding–but there’s a dark side to our work.

Experts tell us that 10% to 15% of chronically depressed patients will eventually commit suicide, even if they receive the best available treatment. Suicide is a horrible tragedy for patients, their families, and their therapists as well.

The impact can be devastating. Therapists typically struggle with feelings of intense loss, anxiety, failure and shame, and may also face the horrors of a humiliating and enraging malpractice suit which can drag on for years. Family members, friends, and therapists may struggle with this tragedy for years, or even decades, without resolution or relief.

Most therapists avoid talking about patient suicides due to feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame, and the fear of being judged. In case you missed it, you can still listen to David’s August 18, 2018 Feeling Good Podcast on suicide prevention and learn how to protect yourself, your patients, and their families from this horrific outcome.

You will learn what works–and what doesn’t–and you may save patient lives. You may also save yourself from a great deal of grief as well, so you can truly enjoy your clinical work without the fear of losing a patient in this terrible way.

If you want to take a deep dive into this subject, check out this May 15, 2017 blog on Suicide prevention as well. This may be anxiety provoking in the here-and-now, but may save you from far greater pain somewhere down the road!

This blog is part of a new approach I am using to send out blogs on topics of importance, with links to learn more, based on my previous podcasts and blogs. I hope you like it! let me know what you think. In addition, I have to thank a TEAM therapist and podcast fan, Angela Poch, for helping to make this a possibility!

David

* * *

Coming in May!

TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

by David D. Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD

WHEN: Sunday May 19th, 2019, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm PST
(11:30 am-7:30 pm EST)

WHERE: Join us live online or in person
at the Creekside Inn, Palo Alto, CA

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? $135,

WILL I GET CE CREDITS? YES!
7 CE hours available

WILL I GET CREDIT IN THE TEAM-CBT CERTIFICATION PROGRAM? YES!

This workshop counts towards Levels 1, 2 or 3 TEAM-CBT Certification.

WHO CAN ATTEND? Therapists of all levels are welcome

CAN I REGISTER IF I’M NOT A THERAPIST? Sadly, this workshop is geared for therapists. You might want to attend one of my two summer intensives, also listed below. They are geared for therapists, but anyone can benefit from them.

CAN I WORK ON MY OWN FEELINGS OF ANXIETY AND INSECURITY?
Absolutely! Heal yourself, heal your clients!

WILL I HAVE FUN? Yes!

WILL I HAVE SOME GREAT FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH? Yes!

WILL I HANG OUT WITH SOME COOL PEOPLE? Yes!

You will also:

  • Learn new skills to reduce resistance and boost the motivation to change. This is THE key to the treatment.
  • Learn how to treat all of the anxiety disorders quickly.
  • See actual live videos of the Six-Minute Cure for Severe and Incapacitating Panic Disorder and the Fifteen-Minute Cure for Severe OCD.
  • Practice and master the Externalization of Voices and Acceptance Paradox to overcome your own feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
  • Master Relapse Prevention Training for lasting results.

You will love this lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of training with Drs. Burns, Levitt and the Feeling Good Institute Staff. The trainers will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, videos, and breakout group practice to enhance skill-building.

This wonderful workshop will stream live and is easily accessible from anywhere in the world on any device with WiFi. To join, just click on the link provided before the workshop.

More than twelve expert trainers will be available to assist
the online participants in the small group exercises!

You can attend in person or from home via Live Streaming

Act fast if you want to attend!

Don’t miss out learning from David Burns, MD,
one of the pioneers of Cognitive Therapy,

and Jill Levitt, PhD, Director of Training
at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, CA!

* * *
Coming this Summer

There will be two awesome summer intensives for you this year!

July 15 – 18, 2019
Calgary four-day intensive
Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

July 29 – August 1, 2019
South San Francisco four-day intensive
Sponsored by Praxis

THE INTENSIVES ARE THE BEST WORKSHOPS OF THE YEAR!

If you can join us, they will be even better!

099: Nicole Bell’s Incredible Interview with Dr. David Burns

099: Nicole Bell’s Incredible Interview with Dr. David Burns

Behind His Brilliance: Critical Thinking

Lisa Nicole Bell is the host of the highly regarded podcast, Behind the Brilliance. In this lively interview, Nicole and David talk about

  • David’s path into the mental health field
  • the difficulties and rejections David faced getting his first book, Feeling Good, published
  • David’s advice to listeners interested in therapy
  • how he approaches perfectionism, depression, and anxiety with patients
  • the joys of a life free from the need to be special—
  • and much more!

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Nicole and hear more of her fantastic interviews! Lisa’s show delivers a smart and funny take on pursuing ambitions, designing a life, and living joyfully. Lisa’s most recent media work includes producing an Australian documentary on identity and gender politics within sports and a digital docu-series produced by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.

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