“A Letter to Marilyn—from the World”–My Easter / Passover Message

“A Letter to Marilyn—from the World”–My Easter / Passover Message

What’s The True Meaning of Spirituality?

Hi visitors and Feeling Good website members,

When I was on a bus back to Amherst College after a long weekend break in the early 1960s, I scribbled out a poem for a creative writing class, since an assignment was due the next morning. However, I had the flu and a fever while writing the poem, so it was a bit incoherent, and I wasn’t even clear on what the poem was about, or what it meant.

Surprisingly, the teacher distributed the poem to the class for discussion, and the other students suggested that the poem was about Emily Dickinson, who had lived in Amherst in the mid-1800s. I greatly admired her work and used to visit her grave with a couple other Amherst students. One time, I knocked on the front door of the house where she had lived so long ago, and the owners let me in to look around.

Surprisingly, my poem was later published under the title, “Emily,” in a book of poems about Emily Dickinson by American poets. The book was entitled: Emily Dickinson—Letters from the World.

The book was inspired by one of Emily Dickinson’s famous poems, which begins:

This is my letter to the World,

That never wrote to Me

Now we have a touching letter from the world for our beloved Marilyn Coffee, PhD, who inspired so many of you with her courageous live personal work on several Feeling Good Podcasts during 2017. I hope you enjoy this wonderful note!

David

Here’s the letter:

Dear Marilyn,

My name is Kent. I listened to the podcast the other week where you and Dr. Burns did TEAM therapy. First, I want to thank you so much for being willing to do the podcast.

At one point in the process, you said that you hoped that by doing the therapy in a public way, people who were struggling with depression / grief / anger etc. could be helped. You have helped me so much, and now I feel so blessed to have your session as a resource for anyone who is isolated, afraid, angry and feeling alone.

While listening to your session, I kept thinking about a friend of mine who committed suicide this last year. Now I know that he was completely clobbered by distortions. Also, he grew up in a very religious family and a great deal of his guilt came from theological distortions. He would have been so helped, I see that now.

I have struggled with faith all my life. In this last year, I have struggled with terrible insomnia and so much guilt and anger. I went to seminary for eight years; this only added to my feelings that I “should” be closer to God, more selfless, holy, etc. If I was a truly spiritual person, I wouldn’t be struggling with doubt, anger or fear.

It’s a long story, but so much in my life fell apart a year ago that my body just couldn’t take my attempts at keeping everything all together. I never fought the ideas in my head, why would you fight the truth?

Because of you, I am starting to see distortions for what they are, lies that look and feel so real. I looked up a picture of you and David Burns last night to get the correct spelling of your name. I just wanted you to know that you are etched in my mind now as a spiritual warrior.

Your willingness to openly share your dark night with us helps us see what true spirituality looks like. Your honesty and vulnerability help to demolish the commonly held belief that truly spiritual people do not suffer. But you guys also showed us that in the end, pain and suffering is not all there is and that it will not have the last word.

Maybe it’s not ironic that I’m writing this the Saturday morning after Good Friday. When I struggle now, I not only have your honesty and bravery in my memory, I can listen to the recording to be reminded how to fight distortions and not get sucked in the undertow!

You are in my heart, thoughts and prayers and I am forever grateful.

With much respect,

Kent

Catch the David and Jill Show on OCD, part 2, today, April 1, 2018 at 3 PM

On today’s live FB broadcast, I will be joined by Dr. Jill Levitt and Mike Christensen for our part two discussion on the treatment of OCD.  You can catch it live at 3 PM, West Coast Time, or anytime later on. The recording will be available on the website indefinitely.

Jill & David

Next week, special guest Stephen Pfleiderer will join me at 3 PM to discuss new approaches to the treatment of addictions, especially drug and alcohol abuse. You can see Stephen below on one of my Sunday hikes.

IMG_1199

David

How to Find My FB Broadcasts

Click on my Facebook tab on https://feelinggood.com/ if you’d like to watch me each week on my Live Facebook broadcast each Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. PST. Make sure to “like” my Public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidBurnsMD/ so you can watch it on my page or yours.

 

Join me as I answer mental health questions from viewers — therapists and non-therapists alike — from all over the world. Type your question in the Facebook feed and I’ll do my best to answer it.

If you miss the broadcast you can watch the saved videos on my Facebook page! Also, viewers can watch these Live Facebook broadcasts as well as other interesting TEAM-CBT videos on the Feeling Good Institute’s YouTube channel!

The David and Fabrice Feeling Good Podcasts

Fabrice and I hope you also enjoy our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing! We are now enjoying  more 45,000 downloads per month from listeners like you. Thank you so much for your support of our podcasts! Please keep spreading the word to friends who might be interested!

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.

 

More Praise for the Feeling Good Podcasts

More Praise for the Feeling Good Podcasts

Hi visitors and Feeling Good website members,

I got another fantastic email from a Feeling Good Podcast fan, and deeply appreciate the kinds words! I hope you enjoy reading it! Also, the recent podcast, Live Therapy with Daisy, has had an unprecedented number of positive responses from listeners. It’s really moving, in case you haven’t yet listened.

If you have never listened to the Feeling Good Podcasts with my wonderful host and colleague, Dr. Fabrice Nye, you can link to them right here on my website, and if you sign up in the upper right hand corner of this page, you’ll receive an email notice every time I publish a new blog.

David

Dear Dr. Burns,

Yes!

Thank you both for the pod cast!

Who came up with the idea? It is an amazing contribution to folks like me!!

Each episode is incredibly enriching. You both have a wonderful way of collaborating and explain the TEAM model so clearly.

I love the way you each respect one another and deeply admire the fact that you preach the importance of the death of the ego.

This approach is unfortunately so rare in our field.

Please please keep them coming!

Joshua

Thanks, Yael, for your encouraging words, and for permission to share them here!

Catch the David and Jill Show on OCD this Sunday!

My live FB broadcasts have been moved to 3 PM Pacific (California) Time every Sunday afternoon and are now called “The David and Jill Show,” since I am joined most Sundays by my incredibly colleague, Jill Levitt, PhD. I hope you can join us! The show is for therapists and the general public alike. If you cannot join us live, you can download the shows and listen any time that’s convenient for you!

last Sunday’s show (David and Jill Show #3) on Intimacy Training has been the most successful to date, with nearly 2,000 listeners in the first week alone. You can catch it any time on my public facebook page.

Feel free to submit questions you’d like Jill and me to cover in these shows. Your questions drive the discussion each Sunday afternoon! This coming Sunday, March 18, we will address questions about and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

David

How to Find My FB Broadcasts

Click on my Facebook tab on https://feelinggood.com/ if you’d like to watch me each week on my Live Facebook broadcast each Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. PST. Make sure to “like” my Public Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidBurnsMD/ so you can watch it on my page or yours.

Join me as I answer mental health questions from viewers — therapists and non-therapists alike — from all over the world. Type your question in the Facebook feed and I’ll do my best to answer it.

If you miss the broadcast you can watch the saved videos on my Facebook page! Also, viewers can watch these Live Facebook broadcasts as well as other interesting TEAM-CBT videos on the Feeling Good Institute’s YouTube channel!

The David and Fabrice Feeling Good Podcasts

Fabrice and I hope you also enjoy our Feeling Good Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some five star ratings if you like what we’re doing! We are already enjoying 25,000 downloads per month from listeners like you. Thank you so much for your support of our podcasts!

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.

 

Treating Our Troubled Veterans–Would TEAM-CBT Help?

Treating Our Troubled Veterans–Would TEAM-CBT Help?

Hi Web Visitors and friends,

I got a really interesting email from a psychologist I’m calling “JP,” an old friend who treats veterans struggling with PTSD. He had some deeply-appreciated praise for the Feeling Good Podcasts and raised some challenging questions about TEAM as well as the treatment of veterans struggling with trauma who may be motivated to maintain their symptoms, in some cases, due to disability payments. You might enjoy our exchange!

David

* * *

Hi David,

I have listened to 52 Feeling Good podcasts. They’re excellent! Both enjoyable and informative. This is the best podcasts series I have ever heard as far as content that I can put to use as a psychologist. I look forward to listening to them and find them encouraging.

The only downside is that I wish there were more of them. I learn something every time I listen. For example, your talk about the negative impact of unrealistic positive thoughts helped me reframe some of my experiences when I tried to do much more than I could do well (which has had a negative impact on my career). I understand this now and it is helping me take more care regarding what I take on now. Keep up the good work!

I hope to come to the intensive in Canada in July!

If you have time, it would be great if you could respond to the questions below. These questions relate to my concerns regarding using the TEAM model with veterans. Please keep in mind the US VA health care system provides more psychotherapy than any other organization in the world.

In an effort to better serve our veterans by promoting evidence based treatments, the VA has already trained hundreds of clinicians in PE and Cognitive Processing Therapy and continues to provide this type of training on an ongoing basis to hundreds more staff and students as they enter the VA system.

In some ways, VA clinicians could be the perfect TEAM model providers because there seem to be an endless number of veterans seeking treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety. As a result, there are no financial incentives to keep patients in treatment. If the VA were to promote the TEAM model the way it has promoted PE, then tens of thousands of lives would be affected across the country.

Questions:

  1. Most of the patients you described were highly educated and intellectual. Would these methods work as well on individuals with a high school or less education who have often made their living through manual labor?
  2. Have there been any published studies using the TEAM model?
  3. Are there any studies underway?
  4. How often do you have follow-up testing? TEAM seems to be having a clear impact within these long sessions. How much evidence do you have that these changes last six months or longer?
  5. As we have discussed, the VA both treats PTSD and provides disability payments based on the degree to which a veteran’s ability to work is impaired by his/her military service so there is a disincentive for reporting improvement. How would you address this issue?

Thanks!

JP

* * *

For clarification on my response below:

TEAM is an acronym that stands for T = Testing, E = Empathy, A = Agenda Setting, and M = Methods.

CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Dear JP,

Thank you for your wonderful email and excellent questions! I look forward to seeing you at next summer’s intensive. It’s been a while since we have connected! So great to hear from you. There will also be a good intensive in San Francisco in the summer. That one also has evening sessions featuring live work and more practice for participants.

I’ll take a crack at your questions:

  1. The TEAM-CBT methods can work with high functioning individuals, but it is a bit more challenging and takes quite a bit of skill and training on the part of the therapist. Working with lower functioning individuals who have few resources is actually easier, in my experience, and can be extremely rewarding. This is perhaps not the way most mental health professionals think about it!

The best experience I’ve had along these lines was the group CBT program I developed for my hospital when I was still living in Philadelphia. Ours was an inner-city hospital in a gang warfare area, and we treated everyone in groups.

We simplified the cognitive therapy, since many of our patients could not read or write. Most of our patients had severe psychiatric symptoms with limited resources, and some were homeless.

The outcomes were tremendous, and the program was cost-effective as well, since we recruited the group leaders from the community. They worked under supervision of a psychologist.

The patients seemed extremely grateful for the programs we developed, and they were challenging, due to their severity, but actually easy to work with. I wrote the book, “Ten Days to Self-Esteem” as the manual for the patients, and we gave every patient a copy at intake to the program. It is written at about the fifth-grade level, with just a few paragraphs in each chapter, along with the exercises we did in each group. Each chapter was the focus of one of the groups in our ten day program. I also wrote a manual for the group leaders called Ten Days to Self-Esteem: The Leader’s Manual. Both books are available on Amazon, though the leader’s manual is now just an eBook.

For an example of how we simplified the treatment, we called the first cognitive distortion on my distortion list “black or white thinking” instead of “all-or-nothing thinking” to make it easier to grasp. We illustrated the distortions on posters, and each distortion was represented with an icon to make it easy to comprehend. We used a checkerboard for all-or-nothing thinking, for example, and a magnifying glass for Magnification and Minimization.

I was also very careful to use simple language when running groups, and I avoided any kind of psychological jargon or big words. But other than that, everything applied to this population, just like any other group of individuals struggling with severe depression, anxiety disorders, relationship conflicts, and habits and addictions

2. You asked about research, which is so important. I presented an informal study of TEAM in a keynote address at one of the Brief Therapy Conferences in Anaheim a few years ago, sponsored by the Milton Erickson Foundation in Phoenix. The study involved something like 450 therapy sessions conducted by four therapists at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California. The goal was to calculate the average rate of anxiety and depression symptom reduction per hour of therapy, which was about 25% to 30% per hour. I was able to make these calculations because in TEAM, we measure symptoms at the start and end of every therapy session, without exception.

I call this measure the “Recovery Coefficient,” and I believe it is a really accurate measure of therapist effectiveness, perhaps the first ever developed.

This rate of change was vastly faster than what is reported in controlled outcome studies using CBT or other forms of treatment, including medications. However, I do two-hour sessions, and typically see a complete or near-complete elimination of symptoms in that period of time. However, was not one of the therapists in that study.

An outcome study is about to begin at the FGI.

You can also read more about the research that triggered my evolution from CBT to TEAM-CBT, including the clinical experience that led to the new developments, at this link:

https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/1160/when-helping-doesnt-help

 

If you need the references to my published research studies, let me know. I developed TEAM-CBT based on process research on how psychotherapy actually works.

It is my belief that the controlled outcome studies have yielded very little useful information, and that the breakthroughs in understanding and in clinical treatment will result from process studies that document procedures and processes that are actually effective with patients.

TEAM-CBT evolved from this research on how psychotherapy works, and my findings, as well as my clinical experiences, pointed to the massive importance of motivation and resistance. TEAM includes many powerful resistance-busting techniques that I have developed in recent years at my weekly psychotherapy development and training group at Stanford.

However, it is not easy to learn how to do TEAM-CBT, due to therapist narcissism and codependency, as well as the fact that therapists have to unlearn much of what they have been taught. In my experience, some therapists are strongly biased and not terribly open to learning that their empathy skills and technical skills are not nearly as effective as they thought! In addition, I believe that some therapists are looking for easy formulas, as opposed to the really hard work of learning world-class therapy skills.

I apologize for my somewhat cynical attitude! And I would have to say that some therapists, like yourself, are absolutely delightful to teach and quick and hungry to learn new and more effective approaches.

3. See #2.

4. Please see my podcasts and blogs on Relapse Prevention Training, including this one: https://feelinggood.com/2017/07/31/048-relapse-prevention-training/

In my clinical practice, I have had about 35,000 to 40,000 therapy sessions, and have always done careful Relapse Prevention Training (RPT) prior to discharge. RPT takes about 30 minutes, and is incredibly important, because all human beings will “relapse” from time to time.

I encouraged all my patients to return anytime they relapsed and needed a tune-up. I can count on two hands the number who have returned for a tune-up, and that was usually just one or two sessions and then they were on their way again.

However, my clinical experiences are clearly not the same as controlled outcome studies, so we need to be cautious until that research can be done. However, short-term and long-term studies of the effects of simply reading my book, Feeling Good, with no other treatment, are outstanding, and comparable to or better than the effects of individual psychotherapy or treatment with antidepressant medications.

I do recall a study by Anne Simons PhD showing that the faster patients recover, and the more complete their recovery, the better the long-term prognosis. This is consistent with common sense. If patients come to you for treatment, and quickly and completely recover, they are getting the message that their depression and anxiety are very treatable, and that they are not hopeless.

In addition, it is crucial that they know that they will have relapses from time to time, and that the methods they learned in therapy that worked for them will likely always work for them. So they must be willing to pick up the tools and use them again when they fall back into a black hole of depression and self-doubt.

5. You and I have discussed this thorny issue of treating veterans receiving disability years ago, and I will repeat the solution I proposed at that time. You might consider giving veterans an option to select between two treatments:

  1. Treatment as Usual, which could include medications and a weekly chat about their symptoms, but no homework, no demands, no anxiety providing interventions, and so forth. This treatment would not threaten their disability.
  2. Rapid Recovery, which requires consistent homework between sessions, consistent attendance, and so forth. This treatment might threaten their disability, since the focus will be on recovery.

Then you could find out what group each veteran selected, and this might give you crucial information about motivation / resistance. At any point, too, veterans could change groups.

This approach might allow you to focus your creative efforts and energy on the patients who select the training in which they are accountable. I find that disability money can be a challenging obstacle to effective treatment. If a patient is involved in a lawsuit, hoping to get a settlement due to psychiatric symptoms, you will run into the same problem.

People are easily corrupted by money. In addition, I believe it is an ethics violation to treat individuals and to certify them for disability at the same time. This is a classic dual-role ethics conflict. If the veterans know that your therapy notes and records will be used in the evaluation of their disability, you will have the same problem. To my way of thinking, this is a therapy “non-starter” of the highest magnitude.

Good to hear from you, JP, and hope to see you before long!

David D. Burns, M.D.

Dear Web visitors,

I would like to invite you to some exciting events coming up in the near future. My relationship workshops will take place in three east coast cities at the end of October, and the first will be live-streamed, so you can “attend” from anywhere in the world. Here’s a new development: When you register, if you use the code Burns50, you will receive a $50 discount. Not a bad deal! Here are the details:

“And It’s All Your Fault!” Transforming Troubled Relationships Into Loving Ones

October 30 – 31, 2017–Raleigh, NC: Double Tree Raleigh Brownstone-University
November 1 – 2, 2017–Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Marriott Century Center
November 3 – 4, 2017–Denver, CO: Double Tree by Hilton Denver-Westminster
For more information, click here, or contact IAHB, phone: 800-258-8411

The Raleigh workshop on Oct 30 – 31 INCLUDES A LIVE WEBCAST–
Click here for more information

In addition, my Feeling Good talk will be sponsored by Stanford and is free to Stanford-affiliated health professionals. Three is a $40 fee for the general public. I’ll be discussing CBT as well as the developments led to the birth of TEAM-CBT, with a dramatic video clip of a patient having a full-blown panic attack. You will see the actual moment of her recovery during the session!

I will also present some inspiring vignettes illustrating patient’s recoveries from severe depression and hopelessness. I’m honored to have this opportunity to present at Stanford! Here are the details.

Feeling Good
Friday, October 27, 2017, 8 to 10 AM
Stanford University Li Ka Shen Center, Room 130
For health professionals as well as the general public

Sponsored by the Stanford Health Promotion Network, this presentation by David D. Burns, M.D., will focus on fast, effective, drug-free treatments for depression and anxiety disorders. This event is free for Stanford-affiliated individuals and $40 for others who wish to attend. Click here for registration and more information

I sincerely hope you can join me for one of these exciting events!

All the best,

David

 

 

 

If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and tons of resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!

Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please forward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.

Thanks! David

After 32 Years of Depression–Your Podcasts Helped!

After 32 Years of Depression–Your Podcasts Helped!

Hi David.

My name is Hassan and I have been suffering from depression and anxiety for the last 32 years.

I am glad that after listening your podcasts and reading some of your other written materials, I have finally managed to reduced my mental suffering considerably. I am a math teacher and recently earned a degree in psychology, just to understand the causes of my mental disorders.

Could you kindly guide me on how I can take part in your workshops and other training sessions? I want to improve my learning in order to cure my psychological issues and help others in my country tackle anxiety and depression.

Hassan

Hi Hassan.

Thank you for your email. I feel sad you’ve been feeling depressed for so long, but I’m impressed by your hard work, and I’m sure it will pay off for you!

Here are several things might help, if you’d like to learn more about the new techniques I’ve been developing:

  1. Attend any of my workshops, if you can. They are listed on the workshop tab on my website, feelinggood.com. The two upcoming 4-day intensives later this month (Banff, Canada and San Francisco) should be extremely helpful and fun. In the fall, I will also be offering two-day workshops on the high-speed treatment of individuals who have experienced trauma, with additional workshops on other topics in 2018.
  2. You might benefit from my eBook, Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy. Order forms are on my website. This is a step by step guide in how to do TEAM-CBT. It is intended for therapists.
  3. You could join one of the weekly online training groups, and you can find information about them on my website as well. These would be ideal for you, because you can join in from anywhere in the world, and the teachers are outstanding! There are small numbers of individuals in each group, so you get lots of individual attention and chances to actually practice the new TEAM-CBT techniques.
  4. You can visit www.feelinggoodinstitute.com. They have a variety of online training groups, plus a TEAM-CBT certification program.
  5. You can read any of my books for the general public. They seem to be helpful to therapists as well as individuals who are looking for help with depression, anxiety, or relationship problems. All should be available from Amazon.com and other online book sellers. Here are some of the titles:
  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
  • Feeling Good Together
  • The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Ten Days to Self-Esteem
  • When Panic Attacks
  • Intimate Connections
  1. If you are ever in the San Francisco area on vacation, you would be welcome to visit one of my free of charge Tuesday evening training groups at the Stanford Medical School. You would be welcome on one of the Sunday morning hikes as well. I know it is a long way from your home, but we actually had a visitor (a neurologist) from China recently! She also came to a summer intensive, and then married one of our Tuesday group members, and now lives with him here in California!

Good luck, Hassan, and thank you so much for your kind email. Fabrice and I appreciate hearing from folks who have been listening to our Feeling Good Podcasts!

David

 

My two four-day intensives for mental health professionals this summer are filling up fast, but there are still a few slots available in both. One is in Banff, Canada and Burlingame, California. These are always the most effective and rewarding training conferences of the year. Here are the details:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Four-Day Intensive Training

  • July 17 – 20, Banff, Canada
  • For more information, click here
  • Phone: 604.924.0296  Toll-free: 1.800.456.5424

High Speed, Drug Free Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders

  • A Four-Day TEAM-CBT Advanced Intensive
  • July 31 – August 3, Burlingame, California
  • For more information, click here
  • phone: 800-258-8411

If interested, move quickly. The dates are fast approaching and they often sell out, since attendance is strictly limited at both events. I hope you can join us, and look forward to getting to know you if you attend!

 

If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and tons of resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!

Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please forward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.

Thanks! David

Priceless and Beyond Valuable

Priceless and Beyond Valuable

Hi, Dr. Burns.

This is Mona, I’m writing to you the second time.

Not sure if you can remember my case with hypochondriasis. I was reading the What-If Technique in your book, When Panic Attacks, and did the exercise, starting with my Negative Thought, “I think I have Hepatitis C or HIV.” As you suggested, I asked myself, “If that were true, what’s the worst that could happen? What am I the most afraid of?” You said you could ask this question over and over, and it was a good way to get at the deepest core fears that fuel our anxiety.

It worked really well, and the end result was, “I’m gonna end up being alone and lonely,” which send tears streaming down my face. As a result, I had a conversation about my fear of rejection with my husband sitting next to me that made me feel very relieved.

Now the second very emotional moment came when I was listening to your podcast describing the case of Ralph which was EXACTLY identical to my case. I couldn’t hold back my tears listening to his struggle and couldn’t stop laughing with my tears coming down when you said the good news is that you’re going to experience the same whenever you have a Hidden Emotion.

I just wanted to let you know that these podcasts are all very constructive and I’d recommend them to anyone who is reading either Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, or When Panic Attacks. The podcasts really showcase each technique and make the points made in the books crystal clear.

Dr. Burns, I don’t know how to thank you for all these insights and I would like you to know that your contributions are priceless and beyond valuable.

I don’t really believe in God but if you do, God bless you!

Mona

Thank you, Mona! Your email means a great deal to Fabrice and me. We are so happy that people like the Feeling Good Podcasts and find them beneficial! They are fun to do because I really enjoy working with Fabrice, but I hear from many therapists and non-therapists alike who say they really help, and that is what we hoped might happen.

On one of the Sunday hikes, a young therapist who works with children and teenagers told me that he listed to one Podcast per day for 30 days, and this really boosted his understanding of TEAM-CBT. I could see that this was absolutely true, because he has only recently joined my free weekly training group at Stanford, but his psychotherapy skills are simply zooming forward.

Mona, all the very best to you!

David

If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and tons of resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!

Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please forward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.

Thanks! David

 

Learning TEAM-CBT Requires Hard Work — But the Results Can Be Amazing!

Learning TEAM-CBT Requires Hard Work — But the Results Can Be Amazing!

This is a terrific email I received this morning.

Hi Dr. Burns,

I first attended your 2-hour workshop at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Anaheim in 2013. That got me started!

Then I took your 2-day training on High Speed Trauma Treatment in Pasadena 2015. That got me hooked!

Since January 2017, I’ve listened to your podcasts, each about 4 or 5 times.

I’ve read your Feeling Good Handbook – did all the exercises.

I’ve read your Feeling Good Together – did all the exercises – and my wife is practicing these.

Working through your book, When Panic Attacks, now.

Changed my life! My marriage went from pretty good to perfect! I mean perfect! All the complaints I had about my wife disappeared. She didn’t change anything!!!

What changed?

In my marriage I realized I was creating the problem I was fighting against. Yes, that’s the truth. The Five Secrets showed me my mistakes: 1. Defensiveness 2. Truth 3. Solving the Problem, and others. As a result of the Five Secrets my wife has now become my best friend. I use the Five Secrets at work too and have never felt more confident and relaxed.

My therapy practice continues to change dramatically. Finally, I’ve begun to use the Paradoxical Agenda Setting effectively. This was tough for me to learn. After a few failures, and soul searching, I’m beginning now to truly see and feel the strength and beauty of my clients’ resistance. The energy of our alliance is amazing, and you’re right, when you have that power, it’s a short jump to the elimination of symptoms.

One quick example: An African American woman in 40s had suffered from feelings of inadequacy 100% of the time since she was little. After listing the beauty of her inadequacy, she decided that she was ready to get rid of it. Why? She said it was “a thorn in my flesh.” We used the list of Cognitive Distortions, with positive thought replacement, and the Acceptance Paradox to defeat her feeling of inadequacy.

She realized that she had a choice: Live with trying NOT to be inadequate (“a thorn in my flesh”) or accept feeling inadequate in some things. Upon realizing this, she laughed and said, “I’m not feeling inadequate anymore. Feeling inadequate is normal.” She couldn’t believe it. Her scores on the depression and anxiety tests went to 0, and she left session elated. I also received perfect empathy scores. All of this transformation happened in one (2 hour) session.

I already have 4 or 5 other examples recently.

I am just so grateful to you. You’ve been generous in correspondences as well. You are truly a treasure.

All the best,

Mike

(Case study disguised to protect identity.)

Michael Mikulski, LMFT
Director of MFT Training, Pacific Clinics
Pasadena, CA 91107
mmikulski@pacificclinics.org

Thanks, Mike! You’ve “got it,” so to speak, thanks to your hard work and commitment. That’s what it takes to learn TEAM-CBT! Keep up the fantastic work you are doing! I am so glad that at least some therapists are learning these new methods and bring rapid relief to so many people who are suffering!

Your fantastic email also illustrates the importance of Healing Yourself. If we, the presumed experts, can use our techniques to bring more joy and intimacy into our own lives, then we have credibility, and our status changes from technician to healer. That is one reason why I emphasize the importance of doing personal work in my Tuesday psychotherapy training seminar at Stanford, on my Sunday hikes, and at my workshops. It is, to my way of thinking, an essential ingredient of psychotherapy training.

I also want to thank my esteem podcast host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, for making the Feeling Good Podcasts a reality! We just finished another recording session at noon today and really enjoy bring this information to all of you!

All the best,

David

 

Therapist Resistance!

Picture 9Hi web visitors,

Here is a self-photo I just clicked working here in my office!

I just got permission to publish an email from a mental health professional who has been listening to the podcasts. I wanted to publish it because his experience is the same as mine when he points out that so many of his colleagues appear to be stuck in their ways and refuse to open up to new, data-based, researched treatment methods that work so much better than traditional endless talk therapy. To me, this resistance to evolution in our field has been a source of ongoing frustration, although I’m sure I have some unenlightened “Should Statements” triggering my emotions!

And clearly, mental health professional ARE hungry, open, and eager to learn new and vastly more effective treatment methods. But when the Copernican Revolution first appeared, there were a hundreds years of oppression and attempted suppression of the new ideas by the established Catholic church, who did not want to be challenged.

At any rate, I have also found, like Ash below, that students who know nothing, as well as members of the general public, are far more open to the new and exciting developments in psychotherapy, including TEAM-CBT, as well as a number of other promising new methods.

So here is his note:

Dear Dr. Burns,

I hope you are keeping well. Your work has been indispensable for my practice. I routinely direct clients to your podcast and have been able to provide very effective counselling that is also efficient and affordable. Moreover, I have been teaching at a local University, as well as joining a local “MeetUp” for T.E.A.M., and spreading the word to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues remain closed to the notion of evidence-based techniques but my clients and students have been much more open-minded!

I did receive an update for the therapist’s toolkit but that was some time ago. I think it might have been 2006. In any case, I wonder if I could get the latest update. I have seen you in person for workshops on three occasions and I love “When Panic Attacks”. Thank you so much for everything.

Warmest regards,

Ash

This was his reply to my request to publish his kind email:

Hi Dr. Burns,

My goodness, you’re fast! Yes, by all means, please publish my message. Please feel free to name me if you so wish. We need all the help we can get.

By the way, I’m good friends with Geoff Mudaliar, who has been working very diligently and sincerely to get more people on board. He’s the one heading our local T.E.A.M. on MeetUp.com.

Take care and I look forward to more podcasts and TED talks,

Ashif Kassam MA, RPN, BSc, CCC

780 902-1700, Lumina Counselling Services

 

Can You Treat an Addiction to Romantic Fantasies?

Can You Treat an Addiction to Romantic Fantasies?

Hi Dr. Burns,

I have really enjoyed your podcasts – they make Mondays the best day of the week!

I am just a lay person but I’m very fascinated with how differently all of our minds operate. One thing you have talked about is treating addiction, and the resistance to treatment. I’m curious if you have ever seen a case where the addict is fixated on a fantasy, an idea in their mind that they perceive to be special somehow, but would be ordinary to any other onlooker. Specifically the example I had in mind was a romantic fantasy.

This type of addiction becomes devastating when the addict becomes aware of the reality and how different it is from their fantasy. Is there any way to cure a person who is addicted to a romantic fantasy? I think there are some who refer to this as “limerence” but I don’t think this is a widely accepted terminology.

Susan

Hi Susan,

Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoy the Feeling Good Podcasts, and I hope more and more people will sign up for them. Your support really encourages Fabrice and me!

Yes, I’ve treated many individuals who were addicted to some romantic fantasy, or some other thought or fantasy they were hooked on. You are right to call this an addiction, because the fantasy can provide a kind of mental high.

I cannot do therapy in this medium, but I can give you a general example of how I might proceed to work with someone with this problem. Keep in mind that your specific details will be different, so much of this will not apply to you.

The first thing I’d do, after empathizing for a period of time, so my patient felt completely understood and accepted, would be to help him or her list all the really great things about the fantasy. It is exciting, it provides distraction from other problems that may be causing anxiety, and it lets you hang on to the person you are fantasizing about, without having to let him or her go. It also shows that you have high ideals for your romantic life, care a great deal about others, and value loving relationships. Your fantasies are also a kind of fabulous compliment to the person you are fantasizing about. And, the fantasy may protect you from the problems of dating real people, who can seem pretty darn flawed and annoying in comparison with our fantasies about our ideal partner, who looks fantastic and fulfills our every dream. In addition, you can avoid the whole reality of dating, which can be massively time-consuming, energy draining, anxiety-provoking, and frustrating.

Then I would say, given all these benefits, why in the world would you want to give that up?

Now the ball would be in your court to try to persuade me to work with you, and to try to convince me that you really do want to change. If you cannot convince me, then I would “Sit with Open Hands,” letting you know that it is totally okay with me if you keep fantasizing. As long as you enjoy it, and it doesn’t cause problems, there is really no good reason to change.

But if you did want to change, there are a host of powerful methods we could use, such as Self-Monitoring (tracking each time you have the fantasy, using a wrist counter, like golfers wear on their wrists to keep track of their score), the Devil’s Advocate Technique, scheduled Fantasy Breaks, and more. We could also work on improving your dating skills and relationships with people you are interested in, with Smile and Hello Practice, Flirting Training, Rejection Training, the Dave Letterman Technique, Shame Attacking Exercises, Self-Disclosure, and more.

A business graduate student came to me for help because he’d broken up with his girlfriend, who was now dating another fellow in his class. And he kept having fantasies of the two of them having sex together. This disturbed him greatly, and made it hard to pay attention in class, but he couldn’t shake the fantasies from his mind. He also started driving past her apartment over and over, to see if the other fellow’s car was parked outside.

After trying several techniques that did not help, I suggested he wear a golf score counter, and count how many times each day he had these distracting sexual fantasies of his ex-girlfriend making love to her new boyfriend. I told him that all he had to do was just click his wrist clicker, and then just let the fantasy go and carry on with what he was doing.

At the end of the day, I told him to record the total on his calendar and reset the counter to zero for the next day. I told him to keep it up for four weeks, since the fantasies often diminish in the third week.

For the first three weeks, he averaged more than 90 fantasies per day. Then the numbers started falling, and by half way through the fourth week, they disappeared entirely, along with his depression.

Any one technique like that might, or might not, help. That’s why I developed dozens and dozens of techniques to help individuals who are feeling unhappy, or who are addicted to people or substances that are making their lives miserable.

One woman kept having romantic fantasies after her boyfriend broke up with her. She kept thinking about how wonderful he was and remembering some incredibly loving moment. After spending some time deciding whether she was really motivated to let go of the memories—since that would mean having to grieve his loss and admit he was gone—we tried a number of techniques. The one that helped was Image Substitution. Each time she had some wonderful memory of him, she would switch to some disturbing memory of him—and there were many! That did the trick nicely!

Thanks, Susan for your excellent question. I think many people can identify with thinking we “need” some person or something to feel happy and fulfilled. I could write much more on this topic, but this is already long.

You might also want to read my recent post on “Is Love an Adult Human Need?”

David