087: Role-Play Techniques (Part 5) — The Devil’s Advocate Technique

087: Role-Play Techniques (Part 5) — The Devil’s Advocate Technique

In today’s podcast, we will illustrate the Devil’s Advocate Technique, another one of the role-playing techniques in TEAM-CBT. You can use this technique for any habit or addiction, such as:

  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Overeating / binge eating
  • Shopping addiction
  • Internet addiction
  • And procrastination, which is our problem for today.

David and Fabrice are joined by Sara Shane, a member of David’s Tuesday evening psychotherapy Stanford training group for northern California mental health professionals. Sara has volunteered to demonstrate the technique to see if she can get some help with procrastination.

Sara explains that she has a small clinical practice in the central valley of California working with children but would like to expand her practice to include teenagers and adults, so she can use the exciting TEAM-CBT skills she’s been learning in the Tuesday group over the past year. In addition, Sara is bilingual, so this would open up the possibility that many Spanish speaking individuals could have the opportunity for treatment with TEAM-CBT.

But to do that, Sara would have to start marketing her practice, but she’s been procrastinating. She never seems to get around to it, and always places the wants and needs of others in her family above her own.

David asks her what it is she’d have to do. She says she wants to put together a brochure describing her work so she could send it to people on her mailing list who might send her some referrals. David ask her to list the first few steps of her task, limiting what she would have to do to just to get started, something requiring only about 5 minutes.

Here are the first steps, and time required for each:

  1. Sit down at the computer and turn it on. (30 seconds)
  2. Open a blank document in MS Word. (30 seconds)
  3. Jot down a few names for my practice, even if they aren’t especially good (since they can be revised later). (4 to 5 minutes)
  4. Add my contact information. (1 minute).

So, the total time required would be six minutes or so. David asks if she’d be will to do it tomorrow morning from 9 AM to 9:06 AM. She said she’d actually like to start tonight, but it is already 9 PM and she still has a two-hour drive home. So she agrees to do it first thing in the morning instead. She also agrees to send an email to Fabrice and David and the Tuesday group at 9:06 with one of two messages: “Mission Accomplished” or “I stubbornly refused.”

Now we’re ready for the Devil’s Advocate Technique. David and Fabrice will play the role of the Devil who tempts Sara to procrastinate, using the actual thoughts Sara has when she’s procrastinating. They include:

  1. I’ll do it later.
  2. There’s always tomorrow.
  3. I don’t have any appointments tomorrow, so I can start to work on the marketing materials then.
  4. I have to take Mom to her doctor’s appointment now, so I can work on the marketing materials later.
  5. Right now, I just need some rest and relaxation, some time for myself.

David begins and tells Sara, “Oh, you can do it later. There’s no reason for you to have to do it now!”

Sara’s response is decent, but not super-strong. You’ll hear on the audio that it’s a bit half-hearted, and not overwhelmingly convincing. And if she can’t crush the tempting thought during the session, she definitely won’t be able to resist it when she’s home alone.

Instead of giving Sara some tips on how to improve it—which David says the therapist should never do when working with someone with a habit or addiction—David suggests that maybe the problem of procrastination perhaps isn’t something Sara wants to work on right now.

This is called Sitting with Open Hands, and it’s far more powerful than trying to “help.” Trying to help a patient who’s struggling with a habit or addiction will usually just make the problem more intense.

Fabrice points out that people don’t need to be “taught” how to say “no” to some tempting thought. They just have to make a decision!

When David sits with Open Hands, Sara gets agitated and insists she really does want to defeat her procrastination. That’s the most common reaction to “Sitting with Open Hands.”

Then David asks if she’d like to try again. David verbalizes the first tempting thought again, and Sara immediately hits it out of the park in a convincing way.

David and Fabrice take turns as the “Devil,” verbalizing all Sara’s tempting thoughts. One by one, Sara destroys them. She leaves the session on a glow, quite excited about the new direction for her practice.

David and Fabrice emphasize that the Devil’s Advocate Technique is not a method you would just throw at someone with a habit or addiction. Instead, you would work with the person systematically, going through the T E A M model, one step at a time, just as you would with any patient. The Devil’s Advocate Technique is simply one of the M = Methods in TEAM. And it probably won’t be effective if you haven’t done skillful paradoxical agenda setting first, to find out if the patient really is motivated to give up his or her addiction.

Did it work? Was this little mini-session effective? That’s always the question, isn’t it?

Well, here’s the answer! Fabrice and I received this email from Sara this morning:

Hi Dr. Burns and Fabrice,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to volunteer last night for the podcast. What an awesome experience! I am so inspired and motivated that it was hard to stop creating my business postcard to email you that I had accomplished my mission!!!

This is really funny but truly AMAZING!!! I have done beyond what I agreed to do, and this just makes me feel so HAPPY!!!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

I’M LOVING THIS!

Sara Shane

Way to go Sara! Fabrice and I are so proud of you, and looking forward to the exciting expansion of your practice!

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

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

 

 

Amazing Follow-Up from the David and Jill FB Show on Defeating Habits and Addictions (April 15, 2018 show)

Amazing Follow-Up from the David and Jill FB Show on Defeating Habits and Addictions (April 15, 2018 show)

David and Jill Show is back! Treating Habits and Addictions, Part 2

Hi all!

Here is a mind-blowing email I just got from a fan who watched the David and Jill Show (with special guest Mike Christensen) two days ago. I’m sure you’re going to LOVE it!

On the show, we illustrated several powerful TEAM-CBT methods for defeating habits and addictions (especially overeating):

  • Double Paradox
  • Addiction / Habit Log
  • Devil’s Advocate Technique
  • and more.

Next Sunday, April 22, 2018, we will probably discuss the Four “Great Deaths” of the Ego on the David and Jill Show at 3 PM. The Buddha was the first, I believe, to talk about the death of the “self” as the key to enlightenment, but now we have not one, but four separate “great deaths.” We will discuss them from a psychological as well as a spiritual perspective.

And now, here’s is the really cool email I just received from an individual I’ll call “X.”

Respected and Dear Dr. Burns,

Your Facebook live show this Sunday (Apr 15th) was just brilliant! I thought it’ll be a good idea to share my own experience with you regarding my problem with overeating. Please let me know if I’ve made any errors while applying Paradoxical Agenda Setting or Devil’s Advocate Technique. I am getting great results and able to follow a diet plan for last two weeks since I did this. Below is my records of 1. Paradoxical Agenda Setting & 2. Devil’s Advocate. 

Paradoxical Agenda Setting for understanding the benefits of my overeating: 

  • I feel great about my life when I eat whatever I want & that I am in control of my finances. 
  • When I order expensive food in classy restaurant, I feel like I’m a financially superior person, 
  • I don’t need to deal with my anxiety & negative thoughts, instead I can order a lot of delicious food. 
  • I can brag about all the things I’ve eaten & efforts I’ve taken to obtain many fine delicacies.
  • I take pride in my fastidious, obsessive admiration of cuisines & demand respect from people around me while eating or cooking anything. 
  • I love to go to expensive restaurants, flaunting mismatch cloths to pretend I’m some well -heeled, eccentric, powerful member of society with great connections & influence.

 With these advantages in my mind I tried the Devil’s Advocate Technique. Here’s my dialogue with the imaginary tempter, the “Devil.” 

Devil (D): Isn’t this a great morning? Let’s begin with a lovely breakfast from ‘German Bakery’ or Starbucks, tell me where do you want to go? 

Me: Yes, this is a truly great morning. I just love it! I’m feeling really fresh & energetic. It is best to start with finishing off the draft of the paper. I don’t think having a breakfast will be        very helpful now. 

D: Oh!!! How can you work on empty stomach? Let’s got to some classy place & have a breakfast shaming even businessmen. 

Me: I know very well that fasting helps me work better with amazing concentration & deep insight. So it is great to have empty stomach; & since when have I started bothering so much about what other think of me? 

D: No, you will get anxious while dealing with difficulties in course of writing the paper. You need to eat something. A sweet, soft, juicy pastry or cheesy, creamy, rich sandwich will help you relax & get in proper mood. Let’s have some mac & cheese with that amazing Mango baked cheese cake! 

Me: Surely, it does makes me relaxed after having the delicacies you mentioned. But this has unfortunate side effect too, as it makes me feel bloated, tired and sleepy. Also the only proven way to deal with anxiety is to understand and record distorted negative thoughts; then countering them with truth based positive thoughts. This whole process itself is very enlightening and sometimes downright enjoyable! 

D: Stop rambling like a stupid. You are what you eat & if you eat nothing, you are nothing – you can’t afford to eat delicious, expensive food & that’s why you pretend you need to diet. It’s just way to fool everyone including yourself, you are actually hiding your poverty & sub-standard quality of life. 

Me: I do find it difficult to agree with “you are what you eat” statement, can you elaborate on it a bit so I can understand it better? For example, if I eat chicken, then do I become chicken? 

D: This just proves it that you are an idiot, sub-standard person, not worthy of living in this society. Your level of stupidity is unprecedented on this planet. For God’s sake just eat something now or you will kill yourself by starving., you stupid fool!!! 

Me: I totally agree with you about my stupidity & I may add to that, I’m sometimes rather stubborn too and that has caused some disasters in past. But I do like to test things thoroughly before I give up on them. And as you said I’m stupid so I may continue ‘stupidly’ believing that following this diet is helping me till I get results contrary to the belief. 

D: It will be too late by then & you’ll permanently damage your brain & kidneys. I have to force you to eat something, now!  

Me: It is better to take chance with this one and according to my doctor this is not remotely as dangerous as you say it is. Hare-brained me can’t understand everything through logical arguments like you do; so I need to take some real experience. What do you think? 

D: I give up! go kill yourself! You alone will be responsible for your misery. 

Me: Oh, not today, but thanks a ton for the suggestion, and for your concern! 

Listening to your Sunday broadcast I felt compelled to try this technique, which has been very helpful! Apologies for a bit long email, I hope you would get time to read it.  

Once again thank you very much for writing the great books and making all the resource available to everyone. I believe I will get a chance to meet you in person someday.

Sincerely,

X

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming in May! This one is SOLD OUT in person but we still have PLENTY OF SPACE TO JOIN ONLINE!

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 no 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, including the fantastic Mike Christensen.

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