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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Dr. Burns and Fabrice,

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

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

THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

I’M LOVING THIS!

Sara Shane

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

* Copyright © 2018 by David D. Burns, MD

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming in May!

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

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

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

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

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

David

 

 

David and Jill Show (live FB Broadcast) with Mike Christensen, Returns Today April 15, 2018 at 3 PM (PT)!

David and Jill Show (live FB Broadcast) with Mike Christensen, Returns Today April 15, 2018 at 3 PM (PT)!

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

Hi all!

Last week, my guest was Stephen Pfleiderer, founder of SF Intervention, and we discussed treatment of individuals with hard-care addictions. Today, along with Dr. Jill Levitt and Mike Christensen, we will discuss practical tools for individuals fighting less severe habits and addictions such as

  • overeating
  • excessive drinking
  • procrastination
  • shopping addictions
  • drugs
  • and more.

We will illustrate several powerful TEAM-CBT methods such as the

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

 

Some Cool Upcoming Workshops

Coming in May!

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

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

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

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

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

David

075: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#2: Do Something You’ve Been Putting Off

075: Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Happiness–#2: Do Something You’ve Been Putting Off

Note: I am republishing this because I published it in the wrong category last time. You have likely already received it, and if so, ignore this new version, as it is the same. I apologize for my error! david

Use the Anti-Procrastination Sheet!

This the second of five Feeling Good Podcasts on simple things you can do to boost your happiness. Procrastination is one of the most common causes of unhappiness, and this bad habit is almost universal. We all put off the tasks we dread because they make us anxious, and because we’re tempted to do other things that are way more rewarding. But the longer you procrastinate, the worse you feel, and this robs you of motivation. As a result, you fall into a vicious cycle where procrastination triggers negative feelings like depression, anxiety, and guilt, and your negative feelings, in turn, reduce your motivation and trigger more procrastination. A vicious cycle.

Fabrice and I are going to show you how to break the cycle and boost your happiness. To get started, please think of ONE thing you’ve been procrastinating on. It could be anything, such as working on your taxes, cleaning your garage, filing papers, working on a paper or presentation you’ve been avoiding, reading something you have to read for school or work–anything at all.

Now I want to ask you a question. Would you like to overcome the procrastination so you can get started on that task? If your answer is no, you can come back and listen later when you do want to solve this problem.

If the answer is yes, then I have a second question for you. WHEN would you like to overcome your procrastination and get started? Today? Or later on?

If your answer is today, then we’re ready to rumble. If you say, “tomorrow,” or some later time, then I’d encourage you to come back to this podcast when you are ready to solve the problem. I can ONLY help you overcome your procrastination today! NOT tomorrow.

Finally, I want to know if you’d be willing to devote a very small amount of time to getting started TODAY. I’m asking you to invest something like five minutes, and I’m also asking you to agree to limit your work this small amount of time. This is crucial, because if you tell yourself you have to do the entire job, that may take hours, and you’ll probably feel so overwhelmed that you won’t do a thing!

Finally, I want to know if you’d be willing to get started for five minutes even if you’re not “in the mood,” and even if you’re completely unmotivated, and EVEN if the very thought of the task makes you anxious and guilty. If the answer is YES, then we’ve got a deal. But if you want to wait for the motivation, I urge you to turn off the podcast and come back to it at some later time.

One philosophical principle is the approach we’re going to teach you is NOT to wait for motivation. Most procrastinators think that motivation comes first, followed by productive action, but this is an illusion, because you’ll probably NEVER feel motivated to do some awful task you’ve been putting off. If you’re waiting for motivation, you’ll be waiting forever!

As I wrote in my first book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy,  highly productive people know that ACTION comes first, followed by motivation. In other words, you have to get started on some task before you’ll feel motivated. You’re not entitled to feel motivated until you’ve start accomplishing something! Waiting for motivation is the trap that keeps your procrastination alive and prospering.

I’m going to make things simple for you using a tool I created years ago called the Anti-Procrastination Sheet! To make this podcast experiential, think about the specific task you’ve been putting off, like filing papers, preparing your taxes, cleaning the garage, a paper or report you have to prepare–anything at all.

Now take a look at the Anti-Procrastination Sheet. As you can see, it has five vertical columns, but they’re different from the columns on the Pleasure Predicting Sheet that we discussed in last week’s podcast. In the first column you break the task into small, or even tiny, steps, and number them. Make sure that each step can be completed quickly and easily–for example 30 seconds, or a minute or two.

You don’t have to outline the entire task, just the first four or five steps. And make sure the steps are small enough so you can complete all or most of them in five minutes or so. The philosophy behind this is called “little steps for big feats!” If you aim to do just a little, you may end up doing a great deal. But if you aim to do it all at once, the odds are high that you’ll just end up procrastinating, because the task will seem overwhelming.

After you’ve outlined the first few steps, predict how satisfying or rewarding each step will be in the second and third columns, on a scale from 0% (not at all satisfying) to 100% (tremendously satisfying.) Make sure you complete this column before you do the activity. And make sure you do it on paper, and not just in your head!

Now complete the first step, and indicate how satisfying and rewarding it turned out to be on the same scale, from 0% to 100% in the fourth and fifth columns. That’s all there is to it! Now do the same thing for the second step of the task.

You are welcome to print the attached copy and use it personally, but distribution or reproduction electronically is not permitted. Therapists who want to use this and hundreds of other assessment and treatment tools can purchase my Therapist’s Toolkit–you’ll find the order form on my website, www.feellinggood.com.

Now I’ll show you how the Anti-Procrastination Sheet works using a personal example of a task I hate and typically put off–and since this is something that I’m procrastinating on right now, we’ll see if the method works!

The task I’ve selected is listing my business expenses for our annual meeting with the accountant who prepares our taxes. This is something I always put off because it seems hard, boring, and anxiety-provoking.

Throughout the year, I save my receipts in file folders for various types of expenses–mailing expenses, professional entertainment expenses, software expenses, and so forth. So I have to list and total up all the expenses in each category, which involves a lot of busy work. I also have to do some complicated things like downloading our yearly charge card business expenses so I can list them as well, and I also have to download my PayPal receipts for sales of Therapist’s Toolkits and other things I sell on my website. And I nearly always have to call the help lines to figure out how to do the downloading, since I find it a bit complicated and confusing.

Yuck! No fun!

Take a look at my Anti-Procrastination Sheet. As you can see, I listed the first five steps of this task, beginning with something really simple–turning on the computer.  I made sure the next four steps were reasonably quick and easy, too.

Then I predicted how difficult and satisfying the first step would be, on a scale from 0 (not at all difficult or satisfying) to 100 (extremely difficult or satisfying. As you can see,  I did not expect it to be especially difficult or satisfying, since I turn on my computer all the time. But I thought it might be slightly satisfying because I could tell myself, “hey, I just got started!”

Next, I made my difficulty and satisfying predictions for the next four steps. Again, my estimates for the difficulty of each step were fairly low, as were my expectations of satisfaction, as you can see.

Once you’ve listed the first few steps and predicted how difficult and satisfying each step will be, go ahead and complete the first step, and record how satisfying and difficult it turned out to be in the third and fourth columns, on the same scale from 0 to 100. As you can see, my predictions for the first step were fairly accurate. It wasn’t at all difficult, but it was twice as satisfying as I had anticipated.

Then, I got a little boost in my mood–since I was facing the task I’d been putting off–and completed the next four steps, which were surprisingly easy, and somewhat more satisfying than I had predicted, as you can see. I’m sure you’ve heard the old Buddhist proverb that the longest journey begins with a single step–or, if you’re using the Anti-Procrastination Sheet, three or four small steps!

That’s all there is to it! Give it a try and email us to tell us how it worked for you!

Now let’s just suppose you’re not sold on what Fabrice and I have been teaching you in this podcast, and you’re telling yourself, “Oh, this is too hard for me, I just can’t get myself to outline the task on the Anti-Procrastination Sheet.” What should you do then?

Well, I have a suggestion for you, and another cool tool you can use. My suggestion is to stop telling yourself, “I can’t,” because this is not a valid statement. It isn’t true that you CAN’T get yourself to use the Anti-Procrastination Sheet. For example, if I held a gun to your head and told you to outline a task you’ve been putting off, you’d suddenly discover that you CAN do it!

But what is at issue here is that you may not WANT to do get started–for a whole variety of reasons! If that’s where you’re at, I would suggest that you list all the really GOOD reasons NOT to use the Anti-Procrastination Sheet today.

In fact, you may not even want to do that, so Fabrice will do it for you, and you can just look at this list that he and I came up with:

Really GOOD Reasons to Keep Procrastinating

  • Tomorrow will be a better day
  • I need more sleep
  • There’s something really good on TV right now
  • I’m not in the mood
  • I’ve done enough work for the day
  • I need some time to relax
  • It’s not necessary to do it right now
  • It will take too much time
  • It will be too hard
  • It will be too upsetting
  • I have other more important things to do.

Once you’ve complete your lists, or simply reviewed the list that Fabrice and I created for you, I would like to ask you this question: “Given all those many wonderful  advantages and benefits of procrastination, and all the really good reasons NOT to get started right now, why in the world would you want to get started? Your procrastination makes all the sense in the world!”

Oh, I forgot to tell you how my own Anti-Procrastination Sheet worked out for me. Doing the first few steps got me into a flow, and over the next several days, I completed the entire task fairly easily, working a couple hours a day, even without having to outline any more steps on my Anti-Procrastination Sheet. I’m ready for the meeting with our accountant, and my wife informed me that I’m actually a month ahead of schedule. The whole secret was getting started, taking that first small step.

And DID it boost my happiness? Absolutely! I feel relieved, proud,and happy with what I’ve accomplished. That awful chore is no longer a heavy stone I have to carry around on my shoulders all day long! No guilt, either!

Next week, we’ll have another cool and simple tool you can use to boost your happiness–by confronting a fear. You may have a phobia, like the fear of cats or dogs, or heights. Or perhaps you’re shy and fear opening up in groups of people, or maybe you have public speaking anxiety. Since I’ve had and defeated tons of fears in my life, and since I’ve had thousands of therapy sessions with individuals struggling with every conceivable form of anxiety, this is one my favorite topics. I can’t wait to see you at next week’s Feeling Good Podcast!

Fabrice and I hope you 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!

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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.

 

David’s Facebook Broadcast on November 13, 2017

David’s Facebook Broadcast on November 13, 2017

Some of you could not find my latest FB Broadcast, so here it is, and I hope this direct link works for you. Below the video you can find the questions I covered!

Thanks! david

 

  • How would you treat an internet porn addiction?
  • What’s the best treatment for procrastination?
  • How does your new TEAM-CBT compare with traditional Beckian CBT?
  • What do you think about ACT therapy?
  • How would you treat a case of severe jealousy and anger accompanied by stalking behavior?
  • Could teenagers learn to use your Five Secrets of Effective Communication to deal more effectively with bullying?
  •  Why you are frequently seeing such incredibly rapid changes in individuals struggling with severe depression and anxiety? Are you planning any new research to learn how and why TEAM-CBT works?

My live FB broadcast has been moved to 3 PM Pacific (California) Time every Sunday afternoon. 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!

Feel free to submit questions you’d like me to cover in these shows. Your questions drive the discussion each Sunday afternoon!

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.

Update on David’s Weekly Facebook Broadcasts

Update on David’s Weekly Facebook Broadcasts

Join the 1,000 + fans who listen to David’s Facebook broadcast every Sunday afternoon!

On my FB video broadcast yesterday, I covered a number of really challenging and interesting questions submitted by listeners, including:

  • How would you treat an internet porn addiction?
  • What’s the best treatment for procrastination?
  • How does your new TEAM-CBT compare with traditional Beckian CBT?
  • What do you think about ACT therapy?
  • How would you treat a case of severe jealousy and anger accompanied by stalking behavior?
  • Could teenagers learn to use your Five Secrets of Effective Communication to deal more effectively with bullying?
  •  Why you are frequently seeing such incredibly rapid changes in individuals struggling with severe depression and anxiety? Are you planning any new research to learn how and why TEAM-CBT works?

My live FB broadcast has been moved to 3 PM Pacific (California) Time every Sunday afternoon. 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!

Feel free to submit questions you’d like me to cover in these shows. Your questions drive the discussion each Sunday afternoon!

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.

053: Ask David — “I don’t feel like doing it!” Quick Cure for Procrastinators

053: Ask David — “I don’t feel like doing it!” Quick Cure for Procrastinators

Quick Cure for Procrastinators

In this podcast, David and Fabrice answer a question from a listener named Benjamin on the topic of procrastination. He wrote:

“The live therapy with Marilyn was very interesting – like other listeners, I was impressed by her character and strength.

“Towards the end of this most recent podcast, you were musing on what topics to cover in future podcasts. I would love to hear about how you treat people suffering from chronic laziness (“Do Nothingism”). In particular, there seems to be a strong potential of a Catch-22 with Process Resistance: The patient cannot find the motivation to do anything, yet they have to carry out the process (do the homework) to improve.

“Even worse, in “Feeling Good”, you categorize “Do Nothingism” into around 10 different categories, and suggest a different approach for each one. What should a lazy person do, who identifies with multiple categories, but is already starting to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of doing one of those activities, let alone five of them?

“I would love to hear David’s thoughts on this!”

David and Fabrice begin by thanking Benjamin, and David emphasizes how helpful and inspiring it is to receive specific questions like this, which makes it easy to create a (hopefully) informative and interesting podcast.

David says that his thinking about the treatment of procrastination has changed greatly since he wrote Feeling Good. One big change is that he no longer tries to “help” individuals who procrastinate, since this will cause them to continue to procrastinate, and the failure will now be the failure of the therapist, who’s “helping” wasn’t good enough.

Instead, David outlines a multi-step approach, based on someone who has ten years of unfiled papers that have piled up in his office, so that by now 15 feet of desk space is completely covered by piles of papers roughly one foot high. Fabrice plays the role of the resistant patient, and David plays the role of the therapist.

The steps include:

Paradoxical Agenda Setting: David asks, “The procrastination seems to be working for you. Why would you want to change? Let’s make a list of all the benefits of procrastination, and all the reasons NOT to change.” David emphasizes that the patient has to convince the therapist that this is something he really does want to change. It’s NOT the therapist’s role to help or to convince the patient to change!

Miracle Cure Question: What kind of help would you like in today’s session? Most patients say they need help with motivation. David declines to offer this, explaining that it isn’t on the therapeutic menu today—only the “Blue Plate Special!” The patient must agree to begin working on the filing in spite of having no motivation.

David also explains the underlying concept behind this strategy: most procrastinators are waiting for motivation, but that never works. You’ll be waiting forever, because you’re NEVER going to feel like doing all that filing! You aren’t entitled to motivation!

Productive individuals know that action comes first, and motivation comes second.

Specificity: What time would you like my help in overcoming your procrastination? The patient’s requests for help yesterday or tomorrow are declined by the therapist, so they settle on 6 PM today.

Little Steps for Big Feats: Let’s list the first five things you would need to do tonight at 6 PM, making sure that every step can be completed in 15 to 30 seconds. They list these steps:

  1. Walk into my office
  2. Choose one pile to start working on
  3. Pick up the top piece of paper on the pile
  4. Put it into a blank manila file folder
  5. Label the file folder

Let’s Be Specific: David asks if Fabrice needs help with Step 1? Step 2? Etc. Fabrice finally admits he can do these five steps.

Five Minute Rule: David asks if Fabrice will agree to do these five steps between 6 PM and 6:05 PM, and if he will agree to work on his filing for ONLY those five minutes. At the end of the five minutes he has completed 100% of the assignment. The rationale is that if Fabrice tries to do it all, he’ll get so overwhelmed that he won’t do anything. But if he agrees to ONLY five minutes, that will be do-able. And if he surprises himself, and gets motivated to do more, he can, be he only gets credit for the first five minutes.

Problem – Solution List: David asks Fabrice to put a line down the middle of a piece of paper, from top to bottom, and list all the problems that will get in the way at 6 PM, and then to list convincing solutions to each problem in the right-hand column. Fabrice lists two problems: 1. I won’t feel like it. And 2. Traffic might be heavy, so I might not get home by 6 PM.

“I Stubbornly Refused” Technique: David asks Fabrice to agree to an unusual phone call at 6:05 PM!

TIC – TOC Technique: David plays the role of Fabrice’s “Task-Interfering Cognitions” (TICS) that will tempt him to procrastinate, and asks Fabrice to play the role of the “Task-Oriented Cognitions” (TOCS) he can use to combat the TOCs. The TICS include the familiar ones such as:

  1. Five minutes won’t help, the job is overwhelming.
  2. Even if I get started, I’ll just relapse, so there will never be a permanent solution.
  3. It’s not such a big problem, I don’t need to do my filing now.
  4. I can watch Game of Thrones on TV instead. That will be more fun.
  5. It will be too anxiety provoking to get started.
  6. It’s too late to get started anyway.
  7. Tomorrow will be a better day.

David confesses the problem is one that he actually had, and describes how he solved it, using this exact approach!

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

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