Intimacy Training, Part 1, on Mother’s Day!

Intimacy Training, Part 1, on Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Watch the FB Live Broadcast
on Sunday, May 13th, 2018, at 3 PM (Pacific Time)–

Intimacy Training, Part 1: How to Handle Criticism

Hi all!

First, Happy Mother’s Day to all of our wonderful mothers! We love you and appreciate all that you do, both for your families, and also in your professional work as well! I hope you are pampered and loved on this Mother’s Day, and every day!

On this Mother’s Day, Jill, Mike and I will launch the first of several Facebook Sunday broadcasts on Intimacy Training. You will learn how to improve your relationships with family, friends, patients, colleagues and strangers, and also how to attract a mate if you are single and lonely.

How to Enhance Intimacy

The first show, on Mother’s Day, will focus on how to deal with criticism, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, especially the totally amazing Disarming Technique. We will demonstrate how to respond skillfully to the most extreme criticisms therapists might hear from angry, dissatisfied patients. We will also show you how you can respond skillfully to criticisms you might hear from friends or family members.

If you plan to attend live, you can type in a criticism you have had trouble responding to effectively, and we will demonstrate how to respond, using role-playing. But please limit the criticisms to one sentence, such as:

  • You never listen!
  • You don’t really care about me!
  • Why do you have to be SO controlling?
  • You always have to be right!
  • You’re a jerk!
  • You’re not helping me!
  • This is all your fault!

Future FB Broadcasts will focus on other common relationship problems, such as how to GIVE criticisms and express angry feelings constructively.

Your textbook for the broadcasts on enhancing intimacy will be my book, Feeling Good Together, which you can purchase at Amazon.com. Make sure you do the written exercises while you read!

How to Find Love

There’s another important aspect of Intimacy Training: How can you find someone to love in the first place? When I was in private practice, more than 50% of my patients were not involved in a loving relationship. Some had been divorced, and did not know how to get back into the dating scene, and others had never been comfortable or successful with the dating scene, and had never found someone to love.

We’ll cover the ins and outs of dating, with a focus on hustling, flirting and making connections, including topics such as:

  • how to deal with people who give you the run-around
  • how to avoid chasing and getting dumped
  • how to make people chase you
  • how to make the first “move” with someone you’re attracted to
  • how to flirt
  • how to handle rejection.

I will be joined by a number of guest experts on these broadcasts on how to play the dating game to win. They will include the incredible Kyle Jones, a doctoral student at Palo Alto University, and the amazing Angela Krumm, PhD, the director of the TEAM-CBT certification program at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California, as well as others.

Your textbook for these shows will be my book, Intimate Connections, which you can order at Amazon.com. Many people have approached me at workshops to say, “Dr. Burns, because of your book, Intimate Connections, I’m now married!” If you’re feeling lonely, this might just be the book for you!

So whether you are alone and looking for someone to date, or troubled by a conflict with someone you care about, we will have TONS of cool methods to share with you!

Hope to see you this Sunday!

PS There will be NO FB SHOW on May 20th, since that will be my full day workshop with Jill Levitt, PhD! See below!

David

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming next Sunday, May 20th! Act fast if you want to register!

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! Click here for registration information.

There are no spots left for the live workshop in Palo Alto, but we still have room for you to join us online. Mike Christensen and others will be available to help those who join online with the small group exercises in “virtual” rooms. In this workshop, you’ll have the chance to personal work, so you can boost your own feelings of confidence and self-esteem while at the same time learning tons of new tools that will greatly boost your clinical effectiveness!

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! And I’ll do a live demonstration at each location, to add some drama, illumination, and inspiration. Should be exciting! Hope you can join us!

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

Intimacy Training–David, Jill & Mike Start Exciting FB Live Series on Sunday!

Intimacy Training–David, Jill & Mike Start Exciting FB Live Series on Sunday!

Watch Jill, Mike and David on the FB Live Broadcast
on Sunday, May 13th, 2018, at 3 PM (Pacific Time) as they discuss–
Intimacy Training, Part 1: How to Handle Criticism

Hi all!

This Sunday, Mother’s Day, Jill, Mike and I will launch a new live Facebook series on Intimacy Training. This exciting series will include a number of topics on how to deepen loving relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. And the very first show will focus on how to transform criticism in closeness, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. If you have been criticized recently, attend live and you will be able to ask us to model how to respond more effectively!

But that’s not all! We will also have one or more FB Broadcasts on hustling, flirting and dating. I will have a number of guest experts, including (hopefully) the incredible Kyle Jones, a doctoral student at Palo Alto University, the amazing Angela Krumm, PhD, the director of the TEAM-CBT certification program at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California, and more experts in the dating game.

So whether you are lonely and looking for someone to date, or whether you are troubled by an existing but frustrating interaction with someone you care about, we will have TONS of cool things to share with you!

Hope to see you this Sunday!

PS There will be NO FB SHOW on May 20th, since that will be my full day workshop with Jill! See below!

David

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming in May! Act fast if you want to join us!

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! Click here for registration information.

There are no spots left for the live workshop in Palo Alto, but we still have room for you to join us online. Mike Christensen and others will be available to help those who join online with the small group exercises in “virtual” rooms. In this workshop, you’ll have the chance to personal work, so you can boost your own feelings of confidence and self-esteem while at the same time learning tons of new tools that will greatly boost your clinical effectiveness!

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! And I’ll do a live demonstration at each location, to add some drama, illumination, and inspiration. Should be exciting! Hope you can join us!

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

The Solution to Tuesday Tip (#1)*

The Solution to Tuesday Tip (#1)*

This was my “puzzle” (the paradoxical Tuesday tip) for yesterday:

The attempt to solve a relationship / marital problem is the cause of nearly all relationship problems. The refusal to solve the problem is nearly always the solution.

 

Many of you commented, and all had good things to say, which cheered me up and gave me some optimism that this new feature, suggested by Lisa Kelley, might be fun or useful for some of you! That’s great!

Two or three folks were really close to the target, and I would have to say, got it right.

Here is my explanation. Often two people in a relationship get frustrated because they cannot solve some problem they are kind of arguing about. For example, I once treated two divorced individuals fell in love and got married. They adored each other. But the woman, in her 30’s, really wanted to have a baby, since her first husband, who dumped her, was against having children.

However, her new husband was a super handsome and loving man who was 15 years her senior, and he already had five children from his first marriage, and he did not want any more. So they kept debating about the so-called “correct” solution to this problem. And, of course, they just kept running around in circles.

In a situation like this, there are really two different levels that one can think about when you view the interaction between the two people. On one level, you have the so-called “real” problem, which is: should we, or should we not, have a child? So you argue about what is “fair,” what is “just” and what will work out the “best.” etc. That is level one, the “content” of the argument, the intellectual side, you might say.

And the attempt to solve this “problem” IS the problem. Because, on some level, it CANNOT be “solved.”

But at the other level, you have a “river of emotion” flowing underneath the surface. She has many strong feelings, of sadness, of love for her new husband, of strong desires to be a mother, of frustration, of abandonment, of anxiety about growing old and childless, and so forth. He also has many strong feelings, of love for her, frustration, oppression, sadness, and anxiety about being overwhelmed just at the time of life he was looking forward to some freedom, to name just a few.

So the “solution” is to STOP trying to solve the problem, and instead to use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication to listen to the other person’s perspective, to acknowledge the truth in it, and especially to acknowledge how he or she is feeling, and to share, respectfully, your own feelings. The goal becomes the sharing of feelings, and listening to feelings, in an attitude of openness and respect, rather than compulsively arguing about the “best solution.”

This means letting go of feelings of entitlement, and focusing on how your partner is thinking and feeling. Getting back to a loving relationship. When two people feel loved, in most cases you won’t have to solve the so-called “real problem.” A solution will generally emerge.

So I coached them in how to do this, and we practiced in the office. I gave them the “assignment” to practice communicating, but both must refuse to try to “solve the problem.”

They were motivated because of their love for each other, and did their “homework.”

The wife called me in a state of excitement three weeks later to report that her husband woke up that morning and announced he’d had a sudden change of heart and wanted a baby. Their daughter was born less than a year later.

To learn to use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, I would strongly recommend my book, Feeling Good Together, which you can order through Amazon.com and other booksellers. This book will be helpful to therapists, your patients, and the general public alike. You can also listen to my Feeling Good Podcast series on the Five Secrets as well as the series on Healing Troubled Relationships.

So now you have lots of new tools to use if you want to develop more loving and satisfying relationships with the people you care about!

Hope you enjoyed the first riddle and its solution. Next Tuesday, look for “Tip #2!”

David

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD.

Coming Soon! Live Session Sold Out! Still space online. Register now!

High-Speed TEAM-CBT for Depression and Anxiety Disorders 

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

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

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

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

You will leave this workshop with renewed confidence as well as specific, powerful tools that you can use right away to improve your clinical outcomes!

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

Jill and I hope you can join us!

 

 

077: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#4: Resolve a Conflict with a Friend or Family Member

This topic may SEEM simple, and the rewards can be tremendous–but it requires courage, lots of practice, and the death of the ego!

Most of us, and perhaps all human beings, run into conflicts with family members, friends, and colleagues from time to time. And as we all know, these conflicts can weigh us down and rob us of happiness. In this podcast, you will learn how to transform anger and bickering into intimacy and joy.

I’ll bet you know someone who

  • complains endlessly, but ignores your good advice and just keeps complaining
  • argues defensively and always has to be right
  • won’t listen
  • criticizes you unfairly
  • only cares about himself or herself
  • refuses to talk or express his or her feelings

Does any of that sound familiar?

And if you’re a therapist, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you run into conflicts with angry, critical patients from time to time as well. Sometimes that happens to me, and it can feel intensely demoralizing.  But when I resolve the conflict, and develop a deeper and more rewarding relationship with the person I was at odds with, it is exhilarating.

Here are some fairly common complaints therapists sometimes hear from patients:

  • You don’t “get me.”
  • You don’t really care about me. . . You’re just in it for the buck.
  • You’re not listening.
  • You haven’t helped me. . . in fact, you’re making me worse!
  • Aren’t you just a student? Do you think I need a real therapist?
  • This therapy sucks!

In today’s Feeling Good Podcast, you will learn about a powerful “Intimacy Exercise” which David has developed. This exercise is designed for therapists and for the general public alike. It’s designed to help you fine-tune your communication skills, so you can develop more rewarding relationships with the people you care about. You may have listened to some of the five previous podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, but this is the first time this training technique has been illustrated.

David and Fabrice are joined by Jacob Towery, MD, as well as Lida Sharlin, LMFT, and Eleanor Scott, a certified marriage and Family Therapist. Jacob is one of the teachers at David’s weekly Tuesday evening psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and Lida and Eleanor attend the group as students. Jacob is a psychiatrist and author of the Antidepressant Book for teenagers, recently released as an audiobook. David and Fabrice are very grateful that Jacob, Lida, and Eleanor volunteered to participate in this podcast. Hopefully, their real-life examples will make the podcast far more dynamic and interesting for you!

This is not a trivial statement, since the key to learning involves the philosophy of “joyful failure”–Lida and Eleanor will have to be willing to learn from their mistakes, which will be pointed out immediately while they are role-playing. This exercise is especially challenging, since just about everybody makes all kinds of mistakes initially. For experienced therapists, this can be a shock to the system, since they thought they’d mastered empathy skills in graduate school–but that is rarely the case. If you check your ego at the door, as Lida and Eleanor have bravely done, the learning potential can be tremendous.

As you will see, the exercise involves one person who does the criticizing, and a second person who attempts to respond effectively, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Then the role-play suddenly stops, and three types of feedback are provided for the person who was trying to respond effectively:

  1. Your letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F)
  2. Here’s what worked and what didn’t work.
  3. Here’s how you might improve your response, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

I think you will enjoy seeing Lida and Eleanor, struggle to respond effectively to two patient conflicts, and two personal conflicts, while Jacob and David provide feedback and tips on how to improve.

Responses to two stinging (and real) patient criticisms are illustrated first:

  1. “This session sucked! I ended up feeling worse at the end.”
  2. “You’re so invested in giving me homework assignments during our sessions that you don’t pay any attention to me, and how I’m feeling!”

After that, two angry criticisms from loved ones are illustrated:

  1. “You’re selfish and only think about yourself!” (My sibling said this.)
  2. “You’re always so self-righteous! How could I ever confide in you!” (My son said this.)

How would you have responded?

If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, pick up a copy of David’s book, Feeling Good Together, on Amazon.com. There are many exercises to help you master the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

Coming Soon

Next week David and Fabrice will conclude the last of five podcasts on how to boost happiness. The focus will be how to change the way you think and feel when you fall into a black hole of insecurity and self-doubt and beat up on yourself with negative thoughts. Sound familiar?

And the following week we will have Podcast 079: What’s the Secret of a “Meaningful” Life? Live Therapy with Daisy.” This will be a very special podcast that Fabrice and I feel very grateful to be able to share with you. The podcast will be based on an actual therapy session with a young woman who is struggling tremendously with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt because of fertility issues, along with strong. societal messages that women should have children and should want children.

The live therapy we have published previously–with Mark, who felt like a failure as a father, and Marilyn, who was confronted by a sudden and totally unexpected horrific diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer–received tremendously positive feedback from our subscribers. Now we are proud to present yet another live and inspiring therapy session in just two weeks! So mark your calendars!

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.

 

 

073: David Answers Your Five Secrets Questions

073: David Answers Your Five Secrets Questions

Relationship Problems–We’ve all got ’em!

In today’s podcast, David and Fabrice address five questions submitted by listeners who listened to the recent series of podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication:

  • Elie: I kept disarming my wife who was criticizing me, and it didn’t work. She just got angry! What am I doing wrong?
  • Joli: Dr. Burns, all of your examples of relationship problems in involve errors the women are making. This is chauvinistic! Why are you always blaming women? I think you must have had problems with women in the past!
  • Tamara: The five podcasts on the Five Secrets were at a very introductory level. Can you do some more teaching at a more advanced level?
  • Rajesh: I was in a conflict with a very demanding friend and I said, “I understand how you feel.” My friend just got more annoyed. Why? What am I doing wrong? Also, what should you do if the person who’s criticizing you is just saying a lot of things that are distorted, things that aren’t really true?
  • Jonathan: A friend said, “You’re so damn cheap!” This was my response: “Yeah I mean sometimes I do get a little upset and annoyed when I’m judged by you like that. To be quite honest, I don’t like it when you say stuff like that.” How did I do? Does my response need to be improved?

David and Fabrice love your questions so keep them coming! At the next session, we are going to begin a new episode series on Five Secrets of Happiness.

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

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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.

 

070: Five Secrets Training — Stroking

070: Five Secrets Training — Stroking

David and Fabrice discuss Stroking, the fifth of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. The definition of Stroking is to express some warmth or admiration for the person you’re in conflict with, as well as people you’re NOT in conflict with! Essentially, you say something positive or complimentary about the other person, even in the heat of battle. It can make a huge difference in how the other person feels, and how the situation gets resolved.

In the last four podcasts we went over the  E = Empathy and the A = Assertiveness of the EAR acronym. In this podcast, we will concentrate on R = Respect. Stroking is the technique for the R = Respect. The term is crude, but I’ve never found an alternative that worked better.

Philosophically, Stroking goes back to the work of Martin Buber, the 20th century philosopher / theologian who talked about the difference between an “I – It” relationship and an “I – thou” relationship. In an “I – It” relationship, you think of the other person as an object to be manipulated, and not as a human being. You may compete with the other person, and try to beat or defeat them, or you may try to punish, exploit, or hurt them. For many examples, you only have to turn on the evening news and see how some of our politicians talk about their “enemies.” In contrast, in an “I – thou” relationship, you treat the other person with respect and dignity, even if you’re at odds, even if you’re feeling angry.

In the last podcast, we discussed “I Feel” Statements–sharing your own feelings openly. If you have negative feelings you need to express, you can include Stroking at the same time. Sometimes, that’s the sugar that makes the medicine go down.

Here’s an example. Let’s imagine you’re ticked off at a friend named Jim, and you’ve been arguing with each other and getting frustrated. I’ll give you example of how you might use Stroking, and i’ll put the name of the technique I used in parentheses after each sentence so you’ll know exactly what I’m doing.

“Jim, I’m feeling really ticked off at you right now, and I’m having fantasies of strangling you! (“I Feel” Statement) At the same time, it bothers me when we argue like this because I’ve always admired you tremendously and felt you were one of my best friends. (Stroking)  I know there’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying. and I’m sure when work this out, we’ll be even closer. (Disarming Technique) With that in mind, you can tell me more about how you’re thinking and feeling? (Inquiry) “

Hopefully, you can see that this type of statement conveys warmth, respect and openness, while at the same time clearly expressing your anger. Of course, this is just an example, and the way you express yourself will be very different.

Expressing your negative feelings with warmth requires discipline, because most of the time we get defensive and want to lash out at the person we’re mad at. And you can do that if you want–I give in to that urge every now and then, too! But if you express yourself with warmth and caring, and if you share your feelings instead of arguing or attacking the other person, or putting him or her down, you’ll usually get a far more positive response.

David describes how he used Stroking (along with the Disarming Technique) to good effect when he was ruthlessly put down by a hostile examiner during his oral medical board examination when he returned home to California with his family in 1995.

David and Fabrice describe errors people make when trying to use Stroking, such as saying something “canned” or formulaic that does not sound genuine or specific. All of the Five Secrets have to come from the heart or they’ll backfire.

David and Fabrice also describe the intense resistance that people often put up when trying to learn the Five Secrets. For example, you may tell yourself that you “shouldn’t have to” say something nice to the other person because you’re so mad, or because you’re labeling the other person as “a loser” or “a jerk” and you see that person in an entirely (and distorted) negative light, thinking (wrongly) that there ISN’T anything good or positive about him or her.

Your homework for this week will be to practice Stroking. Say five positive things to people every day, and you can do this easily in your day-to-day interactions with anyone, even strangers. You can find something you like or admire about the other person, and say that to them. People, for the most part, will like that and respond positively! We understand that this is a simple and superficial assignment. Once you’ve practiced it over and over, it will be far easier to use it effectively in the heat of battle!

Fabrice and I hope you enjoy our Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some 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.

 

069: Five Secrets Training — “I Feel” Statements

069: Five Secrets Training — “I Feel” Statements

David, Helen and Fabrice discuss “I Feel” Statements, the fourth of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. The essence of this technique is to share your thoughts and feelings openly and with respect, rather than hiding your feelings or acting them out aggressively.

The Five Secrets are organized around the acronym, EAR. E = Empathy, A = Assertiveness, and R = Respect. The last three podcasts were on the E = Empathy techniques. This podcast will be on A = Assertiveness.

David, Helen and Fabrice discuss how the Five Secrets differs from assertiveness training, which has been incredibly popular for the past 50 years, with many best-selling books. Assertiveness is all about expressing your own needs and feelings. Although this is incredibly important, David argues that assertiveness alone can come off as somewhat “self”-centered, since your talking about how YOU feel and what YOU need. In contrast, that the most skillful and effective communication involves a more balanced focus on your own and the other person’s feelings, in a spirit of mutual respect and “oneness.”

David tells a funny story of what happened after he read a book on assertiveness training when he was a psychiatric resident. He dutifully and enthusiastically tried to apply the techniques he was reading about in the assertiveness book during a dispute with a gas station attendant in Philadelphia, and the gas station attendant threatened to break his kneecaps!

Although David does not like formulas, they can sometimes help you when you are learning a technique for the first time. The formula for an “I Feel” Statement would be a statement along these lines: “I feel X, Y, and Z,” where X, Y, and Z are words from the Feeling Words list.

David, Helen and Fabrice discuss the importance of this technique, and how to use it in different settings. Although sharing your feelings can be vitally important in conversations with loved ones, as well as interactions and negotiations with colleagues at work, you would use different kinds of feeling words in different settings. For example, you might say, “I feel kind of hurt and put down right now” during an interaction with your spouse or partner, but you probably wouldn’t say that when talking to your boss, because it would sound goofy!

They also discuss common errors people make when trying to use “I Feel” Statements. A common error I saying “I feel that . . . ” followed by something about the other person, such as “I feel that you’re wrong.” This is not the expression of your feelings, but a criticism of the other person.

They also discuss common sources of resistance to using this technique. For example, you may be afraid that if you share your feelings openly, and allow yourself to be vulnerable, something bad will happen, or that people will take advantage of you or use the information to hurt you.

In addition, many human beings, and perhaps most of us, tend to repress our feelings and hide them from others, thinking we “shouldn’t” feel the way we do. For example, if you feel ashamed, you may feel the urge to hide your feelings from others. David describes how he often feels this way if he makes errors during his teaching–he thinks he has to hide his shame from his students, thinking a Stanford professor should not have such feelings!

David emphasizes that even include famous people who claim to be experts in communication have the urge to hide their feelings. David describes an awkward but funny interaction he had recently with a famous communication expert at the recent Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference.

Your homework for the week is to use five “I Feel” Statements every day. They can be positive as well as negative, and it can something as simple as “I feel great because the sun is shining today,” or “I feel sad and disappointed because my talk wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped, and someone in the audience was critical of me.”

David, Helen, and Fabrice emphasize once again that using the Five Secrets one at a time is artificial, like the practice exercises on musical instrument. So the homework exercises are like that. Once you’ve master each of the Five Secrets, and you have a feel for how they work, you can integrate and weave them together masterfully in challenging real life situations that are sensitive and important to you.

And Helen emphasizes the crucial idea that the Five Secrets will only help you if you have a sincere desire to resolve conflicts and to develop more loving and successfully relationships with others.

Fabrice and I hope you enjoy our Podcasts, and also hope you can leave some positive comments for us and some 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.

 

068: Five Secrets Training–Inquiry: Helen Returns!

068: Five Secrets Training–Inquiry: Helen Returns!

Secrets of Successful Job Interviewing, Deeper Intimacy, Overcoming Shyness, and Other Interpersonal Goodies!

David, Helen and Fabrice discuss Inquiry, the third of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Inquiry means asking gentle, probing questions to learn more about what the other person is thinking and feeling. Although this technique sounds simple, it can be incredibly powerful and helpful.

David, Helen and Fabrice give many examples of how to use this techniques skillfully, as well as common errors to avoid. They also explain why and how this technique can sometimes be life-transforming, especially for individuals who feel shy and awkward in social situations.

Inquiry is an incredibly powerful technique to use when interviewing for a job, or for admission to a college or graduate school, especially when combined with Stroking, the fifth of the Five Secrets. David tells a hilarious story of how he got into the Stanford Medical School by using Inquiry and Stroking when he was interview by the Chairman of the Anatomy Department in the dark, spooky basement of the Stanford Museum.

David hikes for several hours every weekend with individuals from his weekly training group at Stanford, and does personal work with them along the way. He describes working with a woman who had crippling shyness since childhood, due to her belief that she was a “loser” and that people would find her boring. The use of “Inquiry” along with “I Feel” Statements (self-disclosure) during the hike was life-transforming when she disclosed her shyness to two elderly men walking with their dogs. The story is inspirational!

David also describes how another hiker could use “Inquiry” to help with a marital problem that had been bothering him for several months.

David encourages listeners (that includes you!) to try using Inquiry five times each day, even in superficial interactions with people in any setting, such as the grocery store, and gives examples of how to do this. Although this will not be the deepest application of Inquiry, the simple daily practice will give you a clear understanding of how this technique works. Practice is the key to growth and learning. You can’t get it just be listening or reading.

You can also accelerate your learning by reading Dr. Burns’ book, Feeling Good Together, and doing the written exercises while you read! You can order the book on Amazon.

Next week, our wonderful Helen joins us again for the Podcast on “I Feel” Statements.

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

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Two Common Five Secrets Errors: Don’t Sound like a Parrot! When to Help and When to Listen.

Two Common Five Secrets Errors: Don’t Sound like a Parrot! When to Help and When to Listen.

 

Dear colleague,

I recently received two emails from a podcast listener named Angela who had excellent questions about the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. Feel free to send me your emails with questions as well!

If you are having trouble using the Five Secrets, the most powerful way to get great feedback is to think of a specific interaction that did not go well. Then if you will send me an example of exactly what the other person said to you, and exactly what you said next, Fabrice and I can give you some hopefully good feedback on what went wrong and how to correct it!

Anyway, let’s see what’s on Angela’s mind . . . .

David

* * *

Hi Dr. Burns,

I have two questions based on your recent podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

1. I’m having trouble with “I Feel” Statements. In fact, I really dislike it when someone says to me, “I can see how you must feel ____”. It sounds so clinical to me! How can I use this technique in a more casual way that reflects empathy without sounding artificial.

2. I Just finished listening to podcast 067 on empathy. You mentioned that one of the errors is trying to correct someone’s cognitive distortions when they are upset. I understand that would interfere with the empathy and listening, but at what point in the conversation is it OK to bring solutions to the conversation?

For example, I was teaching a group of youth and they were talking about all the problems in the church. I let them talk for a bit, but then I directed them by asking what they thought they could do to create solutions. I am second guessing myself now, because I wonder if I may have not had the right empathy for that situation.

Angela

* * * 

Hi Angela,

Thank you for both excellent questions. It really enhances our podcasts when you ask questions. Brings things to life, and allows us to go into more depth.

Fabrice is out on a much needed break, and won’t return for about six weeks or so. The podcasts will continue each week, however, since we have pre-recorded enough ahead of time. I will address your questions here, so you won’t have to wait.

How can I avoid sounding phony or “clinical”?

Let’s look at your first question. The statement, “I can see how you must feel ____” is one of the many errors people make with Thought and Feeling Empathy. You are right in finding that annoying! If you sound “clinical” or “canned” when you use any of the Five Secrets, it probably won’t be very effective, as you know, and will probably backfire. Thought and Feeling Empathy have to be genuine and come from the heart. Sadly, many people are looking for simple gimmicks or formulas, and they don’t get really great responses from others.

If you give a specific example of something the other person said to you, and what you said next, I would gladly make suggestions for how to improve your response! This type of exchange is exactly what is need to make this a better learning experience.

However, just in general, I can make a few suggestions:

  1. First, what you refer to as an “I Feel” Statement is actually Feeling Empathy. An “I Feel” Statement is where you express your own feelings. Feeling Empathy is where you acknowledge how the other person may be feeling.
  2. When you are acknowledging someone else’s feelings, it is rarely or never wise to say, “You must be feeling X, Y, and Z,” because the person may NOT feel that way. In addition, a statement like this has the danger of sounding like you are some kind of expert, and the other person may even feel judged and then respond defensively. So your annoyance, in my opinion, is entirely justified!

I prefer to say something like this:

“Given what you just said, I wouldn’t be surprised if you might be feeling A, B and C, and for good reason. Can you tell me more about how you are feeling?” (A, B, and C would be words for the Feeling Words chart.)

This response combines Feeling Empathy with Inquiry, and sounds a bit more humble and respectful, at least to my ear.

  1. In addition, I almost always try to include an “I Feel” Statement when I’m using Thought and Feeling Empathy, so I will sound human, and not like a robot or a parrot, simply repeating the other person’s words. Here’s an example:

“It’s painful for me to hear that you’ve been having such a hard time lately because I like you and have a lot of respect for you. (Stroking; “I Feel” Statement) You say you’ve been feeling panicky, depressed and angry about the pressure and lack of support at work. (Feeling Empathy) I’d like to hear more about what’s been going on, and what it’s been like for you. (Inquiry)”

When Should I Help? When Should I Listen?

Now I’ll address your second question about helping vs. listening, and when to do what. When I’m working with patients who feel depressed, anxious, or angry, I do pure empathy until they give me an “A” on empathy. Then I ask if they want help with anything they’ve been talking about, and if this a good time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

If the patient says he or she DOES want help and IS ready to get to work, I ask what he or she wants help with. That’s because patients may discuss a variety of problems during the Empathy phase of the session (or conversation if it is with a friend or family member.)

Once he or she states what problem he or she wants to work on, I go through the five steps of Paradoxical Agenda Setting so as to melt away the patient’s resistance prior to using any methods to help the patient.

The difficulty, potentially, with the approach you took is the high likelihood that the kids you were working with will fell you represent “authority” and that you are trying to sell them on your own thinking and values, rather than honoring their complaints about the church, which were likely valid! They didn’t really ask you to help them find solutions to these problems–that was YOUR agenda. Whenever I impose my own agenda on a group or individual, it tends not to work very well.

Paradoxical Agenda Setting is challenging to learn, but extremely powerful. Here are some suggestions if you want to learn more:

  1. My psychotherapy eBook (entitled Tools, Not Schools, of Therapy) might be helpful to you. You can click here for the order form if you are interested.
  2. An online TEAM-CBT course could help. I listed two yesterday.
  3. If you are in the Bay Area, I offer unlimited weekly free psychotherapy training at Stanford. Click here for more information on times, locations, and individuals to contact for free or paid, in person or online, TEAM-CBT training groups.
  4. I offer workshops on TEAM-CBT around the US and Canada. One of the very best is my summer intensive at the South San Francisco Training Center. Watch my website workshop page for updates of topics and locations.
  5. You could find a mentor for supervision and consultation at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California. They also have a TEAM-CBT Certification program which is excellent!

David

 

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067: Five Secrets Training — Thought and Feeling Empathy

067: Five Secrets Training — Thought and Feeling Empathy

Before discussing the topic for today (Thought and Feeling Empathy), David addresses a question submitted by a listener after he heard the introductory podcasts on the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. He questioned the value of the Disarming Technique, and protested that every time he “turned the other cheek” he simply ended up with two sore cheeks!

A great question, and David and Fabrice share their thinking. Many people, including therapists, are afraid of the Disarming Technique, thinking that something terrible will happen if they agree with someone who is criticizing them.

They emphasize the value of questions submitted by you, the listeners, and also suggest giving specific examples when they are having trouble using the Five Secrets. Specifically, if you write down exactly what the other person said to you, and exactly what you said next, David and Fabrice will gladly analyze the interaction and show you what errors you made that caused a bad outcome, as well as how to correct those errors!

David and Fabrice then discuss Thought and Feeling Empathy, the second of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. The definition of Thought Empathy is repeating or paraphrasing what the other person is saying, so he or she will see that you listened and got the message. Feeling Empathy, in contrast, involves acknowledging how the other person is likely to be feeling, given what he or she just said. You can often follow this with Inquiry, asking if you got it right, and inviting the other person to tell you more about what he or she is thinking.

Although David does not like formulas, they can sometimes help you get started. So here’s the formula:

  1. Thought Empathy: Let me see if I got what you just said. You told me that A, B, and C. (A, B, and C would be what the person said to you, using his or her words.)
  2. Feeling Empathy: Given what you just said, I can imagine you might be feeling X, Y, and Z. (X, Y, and Z would be words from the Feeling Words list.)
  3. Inquiry: Did I get that right? Can you tell me more about what you’ve been thinking and feeling?

These techniques are invaluable in therapy, and go back to the pioneering work of Karl Rodgers, who argued that therapist empathy is the necessary and sufficient condition for personality change. Although subsequent research did not confirm this idea, there is still little argument that empathy is absolutely necessary for good therapeutic work.

In addition, skillful empathy is for everyone, and can greatly enhance your relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues, and strangers as well. For example, if you have a family member or friend who is feeling anxious, down, angry, or depressed, the skillful use of Thought and Empathy will almost always be far more effective than trying to help, rescue, or “fix” that person.

 

David brings Thought and Feeling Empathy to life with an example of a patient who criticizes his therapist, and then asks listeners, including you, to pause the podcast briefly so you can write down, from memory, what the patient just said. Most therapists who try this end up “forgetting” or editing out important portions of what the patient said. This irritates the other person, because you clearly did not “get it,” and his or her attack or complaining will usually escalate.

David and Fabrice discuss common errors therapists and general public make when trying to use Thought and Feeling Empathy. The most common error involves using the techniques in a robot-like manner, parroting back the other person’s statements repeatedly, without using “I Feel” Statements. They illustrate this error with a humorous example.

Other common errors when using Thought and Feeling Empathy include:

  • Helping
  • Rescuing
  • Giving advice
  • Correcting distortions
  • Making interpretations
  • Failing to acknowledge the other person’s anger

 

David encourages listeners (that includes you!) to try using Thought and Feeling Empathy three times each day, even in superficial interactions with people in any setting, such as the grocery store, and give examples of how to do this. Although this will not be the deepest application of these techniques, the practice will give you a clear understanding of how these techniques actually work.

David and Fabrice end this podcast with a powerful example of Thought and Feeling Empathy during an actual therapy session in David’s weekly psychotherapy training group. The “patient” in the therapy is a TEAM-CBT therapist named Rhonda who became depressed and anxious after receiving some critical therapy from a participant in a therapy group she was teaching.

Even if you are not a therapist, you can perhaps identify with the “ouch” we all feel when we are criticized by someone, and it hits a vulnerable spot. This is an almost universal human concern. It is so easy to feel hurt, depressed, ashamed, anxious, inadequate, and perhaps even a bit angry!

David invited one of the therapists in the group to empathize with Rhonda, as a part of his training, but he ended up with a less than stellar grade. David, Fabrice and Rhonda explain the errors he made–which actually made her feel worse.

Making errors is totally okay in a training and learning situation, as well as in real therapy sessions–as long as you get feedback and try to correct your errors with humility. This can actually deepen the therapeutic relationship.

David then asked Dr. Jill Levitt to try to model empathy again, and to address Rhonda’s concerns. Jill hits the ball out of the park and gets an A+ on empathy. David and Fabrice explain why her intervention was so effective, and why the Five Secrets have to come from the heart if they are to be maximally effective.

Jill is a master therapist and co-teaches the weekly TEAM-CBT training group, along with David and Dr. Helen Yeni-Komshian. If you would like to hear more of Jill’s fabulous empathy work, make sure you listen to the live therapy podcasts with Mark, the physician who felt like a failure as a father!

Next week, Helen returns for the remaining Podcasts on the Five Secrets!

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

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