147: High-Speed Treatment of PTSD?

147: High-Speed Treatment of PTSD?

Is it REALLY Possible? And Can the Effects Last?

Rhonda and David interview Garry, a veteran who David treated for PTSD several years ago at a trauma workshop in Michigan. Garry describes how a repressed horrific memory from his childhood suddenly and forcefully re-emerged when he smelled some Queen Anne’s Lace that were in blossom. He suddenly remembered how a school bus he was riding home on hit a horse with a boy, Tommy, who was riding bareback, when the horse suddenly lurched in front of the bus. Tommy was Gary’s classmate.

The bus driver said, “Don’t look!” But Garry watched as his friend, who was trapped under the dead horse, “bled out” and died.

Once this totally forgotten memory re-emerged decades later, roughly 18 months prior to Garry’s session with David, it constantly intruded into Garry’s every interaction for the next year and a half. Garry says,

“I was seeing Tommy all the time, and having symptoms of anxiety, intrusive memory and dissociation experiences. I would often see the image of Tommy lying on the pavement superimposed over conversations I was happened with people in an intimate way. It was quite disturbing and anxiety provoking.”

Garry tearfully describes what he experienced during his TEAM-CBT session with David, including his dissociation at one point during the session, and the profound changes he experienced by the end of the session.

Can severe PTSD be treated in a single therapy session? Did Garry really improve? Were the changes real? Did they last? And how did the therapy work?

You’ll find out when you listen to this amazing and inspiring interview! We are incredibly indebted to Garry for his courage and openness to share this experience with all of you!



You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here

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There will be three awesome intensives
for you this summer and fall!


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


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


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


138: Rapid Trauma Treatment: Live Therapy with Sherrie, Part 2 of 2.

138: Rapid Trauma Treatment: Live Therapy with Sherrie, Part 2 of 2.

Hi podcast fans,

This is the second of two podcasts on the Story of Sherrie, who experienced some of the symptoms of PTSD after a traumatic event involving her husband. In the first podcast, we played the T, E, and A portions of the session. In this podcast, we will play the M = methods as well as the conclusion of this amazing session. 

Dr. Rhonda and I will make some teaching comments on the session as well.

If you’d like to see Sherrie’s end-of-session Daily Mood Log, click here

After the session, Sherrie received some notes from others in the audience.


I think what stood out for me in that session was your authenticity. No mask, no defenses. I fell like we can’t really appreciate what our clients are doing when they open themselves up to face their fears until we do it honestly ourselves, and you did–in front of all of us! I feel it was a gift you gave us and I thank you!


Here’s another note for Sherrie:

Sherrie, You Rock–I love you–and never met you before tonight. 🙂 

You cried.

You laughed.

You said No. 

You said Yes. 

You woke up!

You’re a Brave Woman!

What a lucky husband you’ve got!

Thank you.

A sister, a colleague, 


And another.

To Sherrie

Your session–that was brave!

Shows strong commitment to yourself and to the people you work with. You will be more effective stronger, real, fee, and go even deeper with your clients.


If you want to send a message to Sherrie, use the comment feature below, and I will be sure to forward your thoughts to her! 

When people learn about the incredibly rapid recoveries that I am so often seeing with TEAM, they always ask about whether the effects last,or whether the dramatic changes are just a flash in the pan. Of course, Relapse Prevention Training is critical, as negative thoughts and feelings will tend to come back over and over for all of us. That’s just part of the human experience. And if you know how to deal with these occasional “relapses,” you don’t have to worry about them, because you’ll know how to crush the negative thoughts and feelings pretty fast.

At any rate, Sherrie’s session was more than two years ago, and here’s an email I got from her a couple weeks ago:

Hi David. I always enjoy hearing from you!

I agree for you to show the video at the summer intensives, I am actually quite proud of it all so have nothing to hide! You can also do it as a podcast, whatever is workable. I have looked at the podcasts you sent and they look wonderful so will certainly listen to what I can over time!

Okay, so for an update and thank you for asking.  The year after my cancer, my husband had his heart attack, so that was four years ago. He is, thank G-d, wonderfully healthy. There is no heart damage and he can do everything he wants to do. And he is even getting better at taking his pills, so I don’t have to remind him so much.

I have a question for you as what you do is not what I can or want to do. I think you said you were 75 when we met in the training. So what I don’t get is how do you have the energy to see clients, write books, do podcasts, travel all over and do workshops etc? How do you fit all that in? You must want to!

All the best and enjoy spring!


Thanks for listening! David and Rhonda

Oh, my secret is that I am almost always doing what I want to do. Teaching and treating colleagues with TEAM give me tremendous energy, except when I screw up, which is fairly often! But I’m used to making errors by now, and I really love what I do, so I don’t think of it as “work,” but more like having fun hanging out with friends. It is a bit like when you were a kid and got to go out and play after dinner! That was THE BEST!


You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com.

If you like our jingle music and would like to support the composer Brett Van Donsel, you may download it here

* * *


TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

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


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

The last Sunday workshop in February was really fun! We have been SOLD OUT for the in person slots in Palo Alto for two months, but still have spots online, and you can join us from anywhere in the world. Register soon if you are interested, as the online slots are also limited.


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

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


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

Completion of this workshop also counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification

WHO CAN ATTEND? Therapists of all levels are welcome

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




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


Act fast if you want to attend!

* * *

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

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


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


028: Scared Stiff — The Motivational Model (Part 6)

028: Scared Stiff — The Motivational Model (Part 6)

In this Podcast, David and Fabrice discuss the fourth powerful model in the treatment of anxiety—the Motivational Model. The key here is bringing the patient’s subconscious resistance to conscious awareness, and melting it away with paradoxical techniques. This is absolutely critical if you are hoping to see a complete elimination of symptoms in any type of anxiety.

You may recall that the Outcome Resistance for anxiety disorders usually results Magical Thinking—the anxious patient may be suffering intensely and asking for help, but secretly believes that something terrible will happen if the treatment is successful and the anxiety disappears. In other words, most anxious individuals are convinced that the anxiety is protecting him or her from some catastrophic event.

David brings this concept to life with a dramatic description of his treatment of a young man named Sam who’d been struggling with intense PTSD—Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder— for six months following a traumatic interaction with two sadistic gunmen.

David and Fabrice also discuss metaphors for understanding how healing actually occurs. Most therapists think of depression and anxiety as mountains that have evolved slowly, over years or decades. They sometimes also believe that treatment and recovery will also requires years and years of treatment, with very slow progress. Of course, if the therapist and patient believe this it will function as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In sharp contrast, David describes a new way to think about recovery, as something extremely rapid, a personal transformation that happens suddenly, within a very brief time period within a therapy session. But this remarkable phenomenon is only possible when the patient’s resistance to change has been skillfully and compassionately addressed by the therapist. At that point, the patient and therapist are on the same TEAM, working together collaboratively. Then, amazing changes can often unfold quickly.

Plans for future Feeling Good Podcasts will include a series of fascinating podcasts that will feature an actual live therapy session, with David and his colleague, Dr. Jill Levitt, acting as co-therapists, including commentaries on how each step of T.E.A.M. is being implemented. This will give you the unique opportunity to look behind closed doors so you can observe actual healing taking place.

In addition, a future “Ask David” podcast is planned, as well as a podcast on “The Truth about Benzodiazepines,” plus podcasts featuring more treatment methods for anxiety such as Interpersonal Exposure Techniques and Cognitive Flooding. Dr. Burns also promises a fascinating Feeling Good Podcast on the use of the Five Secrets of Effective Communication with violent individuals who are threatening, hostile, and dangerous.

016a: Special Interview: Can Depression and Anxiety Be Treated in a Two-Hour Therapy Session? with Lisa Kelley

In this Podcast, David and Fabrice are joined by Lisa Kelley, a certified TEAM-CBT therapist and former journalist from Littleton, Colorado. Lisa interviews David about an interview / blog David has just published on this website. For the full PDF of the article, click here.

Lisa begins by asking how people responded to a survey on David’s website asking this controversial question: “Do you believe that a depressed individual could experience a complete elimination of symptoms in a single, two-hour therapy session?” More than 5,000 individuals completed the survey and most were extremely skeptical.

David states that ten years ago, he would have felt exactly the same way, and would have dismissed anyone making such a claim as a con artist. However, he has now changed his mind and believes that sometimes it is possible.

David explains that he has done more than 50 live demonstrations in workshops and other teaching settings with individuals who are struggling with severe feelings of depression, anxiety, shame and anger. Many of these individuals who volunteer to be the patient have experienced horrific personal traumas. This gives David the opportunity to demonstrate how TEAM-CBT works with someone who is really suffering, and not just a role-playing demonstration. Usually, these live demonstrations are the highlight of a workshop because they are intensely emotional and real. Surprisingly, in the vast majority of these sessions, the individuals who were in the patient role experienced a complete, or near-complete, elimination of symptoms in roughly two hours.

David emphasizes that while we would not expect this to generalize to a clinical practice situation, it does seem to suggest significant improvements, or even breakthroughs, in psychotherapy. Many of the new developments have to do with helping patients overcome their resistance to change. Although David makes these techniques look easy, they are challenging to learn, and require a radically new and different way of thinking about why patients sometimes resist change and fight the therapist.

Lisa, Fabrice, and David explain exactly how the new techniques work, using as an example an Asian-American woman who had experienced decades of domestic violence and rape.

Can Depression Really Be Treated in a Single, Two-Hour Therapy Session?

Hi, I hope you will find my latest blog interesting! It is based on an interview with Lisa Kelley, a TEAM-CBT therapist and former journalist, and is intended for therapists and for the general public alike, although a few sections may seem somewhat technical.

I’ve been running a survey on this site about whether single-session treatment for depression and anxiety is possible, and the vast majority of you have indicated the very idea is somewhere between unrealistic and absurd. Ten years ago I would have agreed with you, and written off anyone who made such a claim as a con artist.

For my latest thinking on this highly controversial topic, you can click here.  You’ll also learn the secrets of melting away therapeutic resistance using the latest TEAM-CBT techniques. Make sure you provide your feedback and ideas about this, too, as our understanding is evolving, and you can be a part of that process!