139: Can a Self-Help Book REALLY Help? Or Is It Just Hype?

139: Can a Self-Help Book REALLY Help? Or Is It Just Hype?

What’s Bibliotherapy?

Hi podcast fans,David and Rhonda discuss and old controversy: Can a self-help book can really help? Or will you need psychotherapy and / or an antidepressant if you are seriously depressed?

 

I (DB) wrote up the following overview of bibliotherapy research prior to today’s recording with Rhonda. I hope you find it interesting!

I have to admit that I’ve never had much respect for self-help books. Many of them seem to be written by narcissistic individuals with pretty superficial ideas who mainly want to promote themselves, and this has been my strong bias as well. When I pick one up in a bookstore, I nearly always get immediately turned off. And I get a flood of them in the mail as well, from authors asking for an endorsement. I have a policy of not doing book or product endorsements—it’s the easiest way to say no.

And I never thought of my book, Feeling Good: The new Mood Therapy, as a self-help book. My idea was that people receiving cognitive therapy could read it between sessions as a way of speeding up their recovery, so that the therapist could do the individual work and not have to do so much teaching about the basic concepts, like my list of ten cognitive distortions.

But at the same time, shortly after the book was released, I began getting letters, and later on emails, from individuals who said they book had actually caused them to recover from pretty severe depression. In fact, over the years, I would guess I’ve received more than ten thousand letters or emails like that, and probably way more than that, maybe even fifty thousand.

Still, it had not occurred to me that it might actually be a self-help book, in spite of the fact that lots of the people who wrote me said the book had helped them much more than the treatments they’d received over the years.

One day a colleague asked if I’d seen the article about my book in the New York Times. Apparently, Dr. Forrest Scogin, a research psychologist from the University of Alabama Medical Center, had studied the effects of reading a self-help book on patients seeking treatment for moderate to severe depression. In a nutshell, their studies indicated that simply reading Feeling Good may help some patients overcome depression and may help to prevent future relapses as well. This finding was a shock, but was not entirely unexpected due to all the testimonials I’d been received from people who’d read the book.

In their first study, Dr. Forest Scogin and his colleagues told patients seeking treatment for depression that they’d be placed on a four-week waiting list before beginning treatment. Half of the patients were given a copy of either my Feeling Good or a self-help book on depression by Dr. Peter Lewinsohn called Up from Depression. The researchers suggested that the patients could read their book while they were waiting for their first appointment with the psychiatrist.

The other half of the patients who were placed on the four-week waiting list did not receive a copy a self-help book. Both groups of patients were contacted each week by a research assistant who administered a test to assess the severity of depression. The goal of course was to find out if there were any changes in depression in any of the patients.

The results of the study were interesting. Approximately two-thirds of the patients who received one of the self-help books improved or recovered from depression during the four weeks, even though they received no other treatment with drugs or psychotherapy. In fact, they improved to such an extent that most of them did not even need any further treatment. In contrast, the patients who did not receive one of the books failed to improve during the four-week waiting period. As far as I know, this was the first time that the anti-depressant effects of a self-help book had ever been documented in carefully controlled research study published in a scientific journal.

Then the researchers did a number of additional experiments. First, they gave a copy of one of the two self-help books to the patients in the second group who had not improved. They asked them to wait four more weeks before beginning treatment, but suggested they read the book during their wait. Two-thirds of them also improved and did not need further treatment. This study was published in the medical journal, Gerontologist.

Some critics challenged the study, arguing that the improvement in the patients who received the self-help book might have simply been a placebo effect. In other words, maybe it was just the reading, and the expectation of recovery, that helped, as opposed to the ideas and techniques described in the books.

To test this, the investigators studied a new group of patients who were asked to read a “placebo” book while waiting for treatment. The researchers chose a classic book by Victor Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning. If these patients also improved, it would confirm that the effect of reading on mood was simply a non-specific “placebo” effect. This is incredibly important, because almost any type of intervention can have a placebo effect, so that as many as 35% of patients will improve just because they think they’ll improve.

Surprisingly, the patients who read the Victor Frankl book did not improve. This exciting finding indicated that a self-help book can have a specific and fairly strong antidepressant effect, but that the book had to contain sound information that was actually helpful to individuals with depression.

Finally, the investigators also did several careful follow-up studies on these patients to find out if the antidepressant effects of Feeling Good and Up from Depression would last. In several additional publications, they reported that these patients did not relapse but maintained their improved moods for periods up to three years, and that they actually continued to improve following their initial Feeling Good “bibliotherapy.

However, they did not report that they were happy all the time. But when they hit bumps in the road, most of them picked up the book again, and re-read the sections that had been the most helpful, and then quickly recovered again.

It’s great that two thirds of the patients improved so rapidly. This result is at least as good as the effects of antidepressants or treatment with psychotherapy—and it’s far cheaper, and with no side effects either! But at the same time, one third of the patients did NOT improve. And of course, you see the same thing with treatment of depression by a psychiatrist or psychologist. In fact, recent research indicates that only 50% of patients, AT MOST, improve with professional treatment.

In my research, I’ve attempted to figure out what’s different about the patients who do not rapidly recover when treated with psychotherapy or Feeling Good bibliotherapy. And I believe I did find out why. To learn about that, you’ll have to listen to the Feeling Good Podcasts or read my new book, Feeling Great, when it comes out. Hopefully fairly soon!

I was pretty inspired by the terrific and important research by Forrest Scogin, and want to thank him!

If you or your patients would like to read one of my “self-help” books, the following table will show you which books are best for which kinds of problems. The reading list at the end is for individuals who might like to check out the original studies by Dr. Scogin and his colleagues.

Thanks!

David and Rhonda

Book

Topic / Problem

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy

Mild to severe depression

The Feeling Good Handbook

Depression and anxiety

When Panic Attacks

All anxiety disorders

Feeling Good Together

Relationship Problems

Intimate Connections

Dating Problems

Ten Days to Self-Esteem

This is a simplified ten-step program to overcome depression and boost self-esteem. it is effective individually or in support groups.

Bibliotherapy Research

  1. Ackerson J, Scogin F, McKendree-Smith N, Lyman RD (1998) Cognitive bibliotherapy for mild and moderate adolescent depressive symptomatology. J Consult Clin Psychol 66: 685-690.
  2. Floyd M, Rohen N, Shackelford JA, Hubbard KL, Parnell MB, et al. (2006) Two-year follow-up of bibliotherapy and individual cognitive therapy for depressed older adults. Behav Modif 30: 281-294.
  3. Floyd M, Scogin F, McKendree-Smith N, Floyd DL, Rokke PD (2004) Cognitive therapy for depression: a comparison of individual psychotherapy and bibliotherapy for depressed older adults. Behav Modif 28: 297-318.
  4. Jamison C, Scogin F (1995) The outcome of cognitive bibliotherapy with depressed adults. J Consult Clin Psychol 63: 644-650.
  5. Mains JA, Scogin FR (2003) The effectiveness of self-administered treatments: a practice-friendly review of the research. J Clin Psychol 59: 237-246.
  6. McKendree-Smith NL, Floyd M, Scogin FR (2003) Self-administered treatments for depression: a review. J Clin Psychol 59: 275-288.
  7. Scogin F, Floyd M, Jamison C, Ackerson J, Landreville P, et al. (1996) Negative outcomes: what is the evidence on self-administered treatments? J Consult Clin Psychol 64: 1086-1089.
  8. Scogin F, Hamblin D, Beutler L (1987) Bibliotherapy for depressed older adults: a self-help alternative. Gerontologist 27: 383-387.
  9. Scogin F, Jamison C, Davis N (1990) Two-year follow-up of bibliotherapy for depression in older adults. J Consult Clin Psychol 58: 665-667.
  10. Scogin F, Jamison C, Gochneaur K (1989) Comparative efficacy of cognitive and behavioral bibliotherapy for mildly and moderately depressed older adults. J Consult Clin Psychol 57: 403-407.
  11. Smith NM, Floyd MR, Jamison CS, and Scogin F (1997) Three-year follow-up of bibliotherapy for depression. J Consult Clin Psychol 65: 324-327.

 

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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

* * *

THREE COOL UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FOR YOU

TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

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

jill-david

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 can be tremendously rewarding, 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.

THERE WILL BE MANY EXPERT TRAINERS TO GUIDE THE ONLINE PARTICIPANTS DURING THE SMALL GROUP EXERCISES

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.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? $135,

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

WILL I GET CREDIT IN THE TEAM LICENSURE PROGRAM? YES!
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.

WILL I HAVE FUN? Yes!

WILL I HAVE GET TO HANG OUT WITH SOME COOL COLLEAGUES? Yes!

WILL I GET AN AWESOME FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH? Yes!

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.

REGISTER / LEARN MORE

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

 

Defeat Perfectionism on Today’s David and Jill Show!

Defeat Perfectionism on Today’s David and Jill Show!

Special 90-minute show!

Watch FB Live TODAY, November 11th, 2018,
at 3 PM (PT) with David and Jill!

Join Dr. Jill Levitt and me as we return for our Facebook Live Show today on The Perfectionist’s Script for Self-Defeat! Perfectionism is one of the most common problems we see in clinical practice, and you may struggle with your own perfectionism as well.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • I shouldn’t have screwed up!
  • I’m a failure.
  • I should be better than I am.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I’m more screwed up than my patients!
  • At my age, I should have it more together.
  • I’m a bad mother (or father, or therapist, etc.)
  • My presentation was only okay. Darn it! I should have hit it out of the park!
  • I’m just average. There’s nothing really special about me.
  • If people found out about how anxious and insecure I am, they’d judge or reject me.
  • If you can’t do something perfectly, there’s no point in doing it at all.
  • Your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your productivity, intelligence, and achievements.
  • All my parents care about is my grades. They don’t really love me for who I am.

Perfectionism can triggers clinical depression and feelings of inferiority and loneliness as well as social anxiety, performance anxiety (e.g. writer’s block), OCD (compulsive checking, cleaning arranging, etc.), eating disorders, and the addiction to work.

Is perfectionism necessarily a bad thing? Maybe it’s a good thing! Where would we be without Thomas Edison, for example? Tune in Sunday and find out!

The show will be chock full of real and inspiring cases as well as helpful treatment techniques. This David and Jill Show will be geared toward therapists and the general public alike, including teenagers and adults.

Here’s an approximate and imperfect outline of today’s show

  1. What is perfectionism? How does neurotic perfectionism differ from the healthy pursuit of excellence?
    1. The woman who scrubbed her bedroom floor until it had to be replaced.
  2. What’s perceived perfectionism?
  3. The Self-Defeating Beliefs (e.g. “Self-Esteem Equations”) that trigger perfectionism:
    1. I must be perfect in order to be happy.
    2. If I’m not perfect then I can’t be happy.
    3. People won’t love me if I’m damaged or flawed, or if I screw up.
  4. How is the concept of perfection promoted in our culture?
    1. In the media
    2. In our child rearing practices
    3. In sports
    4. Motivational speakers at sales conferences
      1. You must be number ONE!
    5. In our societal values
      1. Calvinist work ethic: You ARE what you DO.
    6. What are the cognitive distortions trigger perfectionism?
      1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
        1. My workshop with Aaron Beck at ACBT
      2. Mental Filter / Discounting the Positive
        1. The Cincinnati talk show host
      3. Mind-Reading
      4. Magnification
      5. Should Statements
    7. Personal examples
      1. David’s early therapy career
      2. Jill’s examples
    8. Tools to overcome perfectionism
      1. Specificity / Daily Mood Log
        1. Need a nice example
      2. Magic Dial / Positive Reframing
        1. What does your perfectionism show about you that’s positive and awesome? What are some benefits of your perfectionism?
        2. Would a Cost-Benefit Analysis be useful also. Some overlap with Positive Reframing.
      3. The Semantic Technique
      4. The Experimental Technique
        1. The attorney who was afraid to lose a case in court.
      5. The Pleasure / Perfectionism Balance Sheet
        1. The physician who thought he had to perfect.
      6. Externalization of Voices / Acceptance Paradox
        1. Can use some of the bulleted thoughts listed above that are common among therapists as well as their patients
      7. Feared Fantasy
      8. Dare to be average!
        1. David’s writer’s block when trying to revise Feeling Good

This is one show you WON’T WANT TO MISS!

We hope you can join us live. However, the show will be recorded, as usual, so you can tune in anytime on my Public FB page! Usually the show is an hour, but we’ll do a special, extended, 90-minute show for this cool topic!

Dr. Levitt is Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good institute in Mt. View, California. She is a co-director of my weekly psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and is absolutely superb. When we work together, the chemistry can be pure magic (most of the time, but not always!) The photo below was at taken at our recent Sunday workshop on Advanced TEAM-CBT techniques.

Jill and david 2

David

Here in some exciting upcoming workshops for you–

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–
Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Treatment Techniques
that Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018–San Francisco, CA (in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, Portland, Oregon (in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed psychiatrists and teachers!

Sponsored by PESI
To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

* * *

December, 2018

Brief Therapy Conference, December 6 – 9, Burlingame, California

Sponsored by the Milton Erikson Foundation

I will be giving a Keynote Address on

Overcoming Therapeutic Resistance

on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from  2:30 – 3:30 PM

plus a two-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10:45 AM – 12:45, with Dr. Jill Levitt on

Healing Yourself: A Live Demonstration of TEAM-CBT

plus two other presentations at this fantastic event.

Hiking Report / Photos

Hiking Report / Photos

Hi everybody,

I have not shared any of Maryam Hamidi’s fabulous photos from our Sunday hikes recently, so decided to post some for you today. We had eight brave hikers, and some really amazing things happened as we were doing personal work and case consultation along the way.

We were pleased that Dr. Mark Noble from the University of Rochester was able to join us once again. Some of you may have heard him on our Podcast #100 on “TEAM-CBT and the Brain.” He is currently working on a book on that title, and has generously volunteered to contribute preview chapter in my upcoming book.

I hope you enjoy these beautiful pics!

IMG_6131

IMG_6125

IMG_6118

IMG_6123

IMG_6117

Here in some exciting upcoming workshops for you–

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–
Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Treatment Techniques
that Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018–San Francisco, CA (in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, Portland, Oregon (in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed psychiatrists and teachers!

Sponsored by PESI
To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

* * *

December, 2018

Brief Therapy Conference, December 6 – 9, Burlingame, California

Sponsored by the Milton Erikson Foundation

I will be giving a Keynote Address on

Overcoming Therapeutic Resistance

on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from  2:30 – 3:30 PM

plus a two-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10:45 AM – 12:45, with Dr. Jill Levitt on

Healing Yourself: A Live Demonstration of TEAM-CBT

plus two other presentations at this fantastic event.

Overcome Perfectionism on the David and Jill Show, Nov 11, 2018!

Overcome Perfectionism on the David and Jill Show, Nov 11, 2018!

Special 90-minute show!

Watch FB Live on Sunday, November 11th, 2018,
at 3 PM (PT) fr with David and Jill!

Join Dr. Jill Levitt and me as we return for our next Facebook Live Show! We will focus on perfectionism, a problem that probably plagues you and your patients as well. In fact, perfectionism is one of the most common problems we see in clinical practice, and most of us struggle with our own perfectionism as well. Perfectionism is a major cause of depression as well as social anxiety, crippling performance anxiety, and more.

Here’s the rough preview of our show.

Do you or your patients reach for the stars and end up grasping air? Perfectionism is one of the most common problems we see in clinical practice, and most mental health professionals at times struggle with their own perfectionism as well.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • I shouldn’t have screwed up!
  • I’m a failure.
  • I should be better than I am.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I’m more screwed up than my patients!
  • At my age, I should have it more together.
  • I’m a bad mother (or father, or therapist, etc.)
  • My presentation was only okay. Darn it! I should have hit it out of the park!
  • I’m just average. There’s nothing really special about me.
  • If people found out about how anxious and insecure I am, they’d judge or reject me.
  • If you can’t do something perfectly, there’s no point in doing it at all.
  • Your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your productivity, intelligence, and achievements.
  • All my parents care about is my grades. They don’t really love me for who I am.

Perfectionism triggers clinical depression and feelings of inferiority as well as many anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, performance anxiety (e.g. writer’s block), OCD (compulsive checking, cleaning arranging, etc.), and more.

Perfectionism has also been implicated in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, although the causal relationships are not entirely clear, plays a role in the addiction to work, and is often associated with loneliness.

But is perfectionism necessarily a bad thing? What’s the difference between neurotic perfectionism and the healthy pursuit of excellence? Tune in Sunday and find out!

The show will be chock full of real and inspiring cases as well as helpful treatment techniques. This David and Jill Show will be geared toward therapists and the general public alike, including teenagers and adults.

Outline of the Show

  1. What is perfectionism? How does neurotic perfectionism differ from the healthy pursuit of excellence?
    1. The woman who scrubbed her bedroom floor until it had to be replaced.
  2. What’s perceived perfectionism?
  3. The Self-Defeating Beliefs (e.g. “Self-Esteem Equations”) that trigger perfectionism:
    1. I must be perfect in order to be happy.
    2. If I’m not perfect then I can’t be happy.
    3. People won’t love me if I’m damaged or flawed, or if I screw up.
  4. How is the concept of perfection promoted in our culture?
    1. In the media
    2. In our child rearing practices
    3. In sports
    4. Motivational speakers at sales conferences
      1. You must be number ONE!
    5. In our societal values
      1. Calvinist work ethic: You ARE what you DO.
    6. What are the cognitive distortions trigger perfectionism?
      1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
        1. My workshop with Aaron Beck at ACBT
      2. Mental Filter / Discounting the Positive
        1. The Cincinnati talk show host
      3. Mind-Reading
      4. Magnification
      5. Should Statements
    7. Personal examples
      1. David’s early therapy career
      2. Jill’s examples
    8. Tools to overcome perfectionism
      1. Specificity / Daily Mood Log
        1. Need a nice example
      2. Magic Dial / Positive Reframing
        1. What does your perfectionism show about you that’s positive and awesome? What are some benefits of your perfectionism?
        2. Would a Cost-Benefit Analysis be useful also. Some overlap with Positive Reframing.
      3. The Semantic Technique
      4. The Experimental Technique
        1. The attorney who was afraid to lose a case in court.
      5. The Pleasure / Perfectionism Balance Sheet
        1. The physician who thought he had to perfect.
      6. Externalization of Voices / Acceptance Paradox
        1. Can use some of the bulleted thoughts listed above that are common among therapists as well as their patients
      7. Feared Fantasy
      8. Dare to be average!
        1. David’s writer’s block when trying to revise Feeling Good

This is one show you WON’T WANT TO MISS!

The David and Jill show is usually on the first Sunday in every month, but this month it will be on the second Sunday (November 11, not November 4). We hope you can join us live. However, the show will be recorded, as usual, so you can tune in anytime on my Public FB page! usually the show is an hour, but we’ll do a special, extended, 90-minute show for this cool topic!

Dr. Levitt is Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good institute in Mt. View, California. She is a co-director of my weekly psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and is absolutely superb. When we work together, the chemistry can be pure magic (most of the time, but not always!) The photo below was at taken at our recent Sunday workshop on Advanced TEAM-CBT techniques.

Jill and david 2

Here in some exciting upcoming workshops for you–

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–
Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Treatment Techniques
that Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018–San Francisco, CA (in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, Portland, Oregon (in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed psychiatrists and teachers!

Sponsored by PESI
To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

* * *

December, 2018

Brief Therapy Conference, December 6 – 9, Burlingame, California

Sponsored by the Milton Erikson Foundation

I will be giving a Keynote Address on

Overcoming Therapeutic Resistance

on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from  2:30 – 3:30 PM

plus a two-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10:45 AM – 12:45, with Dr. Jill Levitt on

Healing Yourself: A Live Demonstration of TEAM-CBT

plus two other presentations at this fantastic event.

The Perfectionist’s Script for Self-Defeat–On the David and Jill Show, Nov 11, 2018!

The Perfectionist’s Script for Self-Defeat–On the David and Jill Show, Nov 11, 2018!

Watch FB Live on Sunday, November 11th, 2018,
at 3 PM (PT) for a full hour with David and Jill!

Join Dr. Jill Levitt and me as we return for our next Facebook Live Show! We will focus on perfectionism, a problem that probably plagues you and your patients as well. In fact, perfectionism is one of the most common problems we see in clinical practice, and most of us struggle with our own perfectionism as well. Perfectionism is a major cause of depression as well as many of the  anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety and crippling performance anxiety.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar:

  • I shouldn’t have screwed up!
  • I’m a failure.
  • I should be better than I am.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I’m more screwed up than my patients!
  • At my age, I should have it more together.
  • I’m a bad mother (or father, or therapist, etc.)
  • My presentation was only okay. Darn it! I should have hit it out of the park!
  • I’m just average. There’s nothing really special about me.
  • If people found out about how anxious and insecure I am, they’d judge or reject me.
  • If you can’t do something perfectly, there’s no point in doing it at all.
  • Your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your productivity, intelligence, and achievements.
  • All my parents care about is my grades. They don’t really love me for who I am.

What’s the difference between neurotic perfectionism and the healthy pursuit of excellence? What are the cognitive distortions that cause perfectionism? What does your perfectionism show about you that’s positive and awesome? What are some of the benefits of perfectionism? What’s the difference between Perfectionism and Perceived Perfectionism? How can you overcome perfectionism? What does “Dare to be Average” mean? That sounds awful!

Tune in Sunday and find out! The show will be chock full of real and inspiring cases and treatment techniques. This David and Jill Show will be geared toward therapists and the general public alike, including teenagers and adults.

This is one show you WON’T WANT TO MISS!

David’s cover feature on perfectionism in Psychology Today Magazine in 1980 was the most popular article in the history of that magazine. Perfectionism still plagues tens of millions of Americans, and countless more world wide. Is there a solution, or escape, from this trap? Do we even WANT a solution?

The David and Jill show is usually on the first Sunday in every month, but this month it will be on the second Sunday (November 11, not November 4). We hope you can join us live. However, the show will be recorded, as usual, so you can tune in anytime on my Public FB page!

Dr. Levitt is Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good institute in Mt. View, California. She is a co-director of my weekly psychotherapy training group at Stanford, and is absolutely superb. When we work together, the chemistry can be pure magic (most of the time, but not always!) The photo below was at taken at our recent Sunday workshop on Advanced TEAM-CBT techniques.

Jill and david 2

Here in some exciting upcoming workshops for you–

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–
Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Treatment Techniques
that Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018–San Francisco, CA (in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, Portland, Oregon (in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed psychiatrists and teachers!

Sponsored by PESI
To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

* * *

December, 2018

Brief Therapy Conference, December 6 – 9, Burlingame, California

Sponsored by the Milton Erikson Foundation

I will be giving a Keynote Address on

Overcoming Therapeutic Resistance

on Sunday, December 9, 2018, from  2:30 – 3:30 PM

plus a two-hour workshop on Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10:45 AM – 12:45, with Dr. Jill Levitt on

Healing Yourself: A Live Demonstration of TEAM-CBT

plus two other presentations at this fantastic event.

108: Do You Have a “Self?”

108: Do You Have a “Self?”

A podcast fan named Chuck asked if we could have a podcast devoted to the concept of the “self,” or the Buddhist concept of “no self,” so here it is.

David emphasizes that there are two issues. First, can your “self” be validly judged as not good enough, as inferior or even worthless? Or, can your “self” be validly judged as more worthwhile, or even superior? And is it really true that some people are more worthwhile, or less worthwhile, than others? Do more worthwhile, or less worthwhile human beings exist?

Second, do we even have a “self?”

Fabrice talks about the history of the concept of ego. For example, Freud divided the human mind into three parts: the id, ego and superego. Do these really exist as “things,” or are they just concepts, or metaphors for talking about the mind? When you try to think about the “ego” or the “self” as a thing, that’s when you get in trouble.

David argues that if you believe that someone people are “more worthwhile” or “less worthwhile,” you’d have to define what a of worthwhile human being is. Once you define it, you can always show that your definition has one of these problems:

  1. It applies to all human beings, and therefore has no meaning.
  2. It applies to no human beings, and therefore has no meaning.
  3. It is inherently meaningless.
  4. It does not apply to you.

David and Fabrice illustrate these traps with one of the most common definitions—thinking that your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your achievements, productivity, or success. They conclude that can only judge specific thoughts, feelings, or behaviors as more or less worthwhile, but there’s no such thing as a more or less worthwhile human being.

Next, they raise the question, “Does the ‘self’ exist?” And “What is the self?” David argues that the notion is nonsensical, or that there is no such “thing” as a “self.”

Although the discussion in today’s podcast is philosophical, and may go over the heads of some people, it has practical importance because most people who are struggling with depression and anxiety do believe that they are “not good enough,” and that their “selves” are somehow defective or flawed. Letting go of this notion can help to speed recovery, as well as what the Buddha referred to as “enlightenment.”

David expressed the hope that we may be able to return to this theme in future podcasts and perhaps find ways of making these potentially healing and liberating concepts more understandable! These concepts can take time to grasp, so be patient with yourself.

Subscribe

* * *

Coming Soon!
October / November / December 2018–
Cool Workshops for You!

TEAM-CBT Methods for the Treatment of Relationship Difficulties

Step by Step Training for Therapists

by David Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD

Sunday October 28th, 2018 (9 am-4 pm PST)

Live in Palo Alto plus online streaming

Learn how to reduce patient resistance and boost motivation to change. Master skills that will enhance communication skills and increase intimacy with loved ones. This workshop will be highly interactive with many case examples and opportunities for practice using role plays.

Join us for a day of fun and inspiring learning on site in Palo Alto
OR online from anywhere in the world.

Learn from David and Jill–a dynamic teaching duo!

6 CE*s. $135

To register, go to the Feeling Good Institute

or call  650-353-6544

* * *

Rapid Recovery from Trauma

a two-day workshop

by David D. Burns, MD

October 4-5, 2018–Pasadena, CA

and

November 1-2, 2018–Woodland Hills, CA

The November workshop includes Live Streaming
if you cannot attend in person)

For further information, go to www.IAHB.org
or call 1-800-258-8411

Register Now!

* * *

TREAT ANXIETY FAST–
Powerful, Fast-Acting, Drug-Free Treatment Techniques
that Defeat Anxiety & Worry

a 2-day workshop by David D. Burns, MD

November 29 and 30, 2018–San Francisco, CA (in person only)

and

December 3 and 4, Portland, Oregon (in person and live streaming)

PESI is proud to offer an exciting workshop by David Burns, M.D., a pioneer in the development of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Achieve rapid and lasting recovery with all your anxious clients, just as Dr. Burns has done in over 35,000 therapy sessions with severely troubled clients. Become skilled at treating every type of anxiety without drugs.

In this unique 2-day certificate course you’ll master more than 20 treatment techniques to help your clients eliminate the symptoms of anxiety quickly – even your most challenging, resistant clients.

Dr. Burns will illustrate concrete strategies that provide rapid, complete recovery and lasting change for your patients. You’ll learn…

  • How to integrate four powerful treatment models to eliminate symptoms.
  • How to enhance your client’s engagement in therapy.
  • How to develop a treatment plan that specifically targets each client’s unique problems and needs.
  • …and so much more!

David will provide you with guided instruction and share powerful video sessions that capture the actual moment of recovery. You will take away practical strategies to use immediately with any anxious client. Leave this certificate course armed with tools you can use in your very next session!

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of America’s most highly acclaimed psychiatrists and teachers!

Sponsored by PESI

To register, or for more information, call: 800-844-8260

099: Nicole Bell’s Incredible Interview with Dr. David Burns

099: Nicole Bell’s Incredible Interview with Dr. David Burns

Behind His Brilliance: Critical Thinking

Lisa Nicole Bell is the host of the highly regarded podcast, Behind the Brilliance. In this lively interview, Nicole and David talk about

  • David’s path into the mental health field
  • the difficulties and rejections David faced getting his first book, Feeling Good, published
  • David’s advice to listeners interested in therapy
  • how he approaches perfectionism, depression, and anxiety with patients
  • the joys of a life free from the need to be special—
  • and much more!

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Nicole and hear more of her fantastic interviews! Lisa’s show delivers a smart and funny take on pursuing ambitions, designing a life, and living joyfully. Lisa’s most recent media work includes producing an Australian documentary on identity and gender politics within sports and a digital docu-series produced by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.

Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #9*

Solution to David’s Tuesday Tip #9*

This was yesterday’s paradoxical tip of the day–

Once you develop unconditional self-esteem, try to get rid of it as soon as possible!

Here’s the scoop on self-esteem–there is no such thing! It’s just a buzz word, a marketing word. But still, lots of people complain of “low self-esteem” and they want–and deserve help. In fact, it says so right on the cover of my book, Feeling Good: “Feeling good feels wonderful. You owe it to yourself to FEEL GOOD!”

But if you’re depressed and feeling worthless, how do you do this? First, let’s see what people mean when they say they need better “self-esteem.”

When people say they have low self-esteem, what they really mean is that they are feeling depressed and criticizing themselves with a lot with distorted Negative Thoughts containing “Should Statements,” “All-or-Nothing Thinking,” “Self-Blame,” and other cognitive distortions. For example, you may tell yourself, “I’m a failure,” “I’m unlovable,” “I should be better than I am, ” or “I’m not good enough.” These kinds of thoughts trigger feelings of inferiority, hopelessness, and shame, as well as depression, anxiety, defectiveness, and loneliness.

In my books, such as Feeling Good, or in my Feeling Good Handbook, I describe many powerful techniques that can help you (or your patients) combat and crush these kinds of negative thoughts. In my new book, Feeling Great, I will include many additional techniques that are also mind-boggling, techniques that can trigger rapid recovery.

However, the goal is not to become an especially “worthwhile” or “superior” human being, but rather to accept yourself as a flawed human being in the spirit of joy, peace, humor, gratitude and even jubilation. Life can be pretty fantastic when you’re not putting yourself down all the time. In fact, when you suddenly “wake up” from the trance of depression and anxiety, you may discover that you’re so busy having fun and enjoying life and other people that you don’t want to waste any time worrying about or pursuing “self-esteem.”

I lost my self-esteem years ago jogging home from the train station in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania after work. It was a tremendous relief to finally get rid of it. It seemed to kind of fall off, and instead of stopping to look for it, I started jogging faster. After a few more steps my “self” fell off as well, and that was even better! I think my self-esteem and “self” may both still be on the side of the road somewhere between the train station and the house where my family and I used to live in Gladwyne, Pa.

Well, this may not make sense, so I’ll stop babbling, but all will be explained in my new book. What it boils down to is something I learned from my late cat and beloved friend, Obie. Obie was not special, he was just an ordinary feral cat we adopted, and I was not special, either–but when Obie and I hung out together, the heavens opened up. I learned that when you no longer need to be “special,” life becomes special.

Obie 1

I just returned from four days of teaching in Canada, and I’m a bit tired. So I think I’ll stop writing and just hang out with our new little kitty, Miss Misty, who was gifted to us by a kind neighbor when we lost our dear Obie in the middle of the night about a year ago. I am still grieving his loss.

I plan to stroke Miss Misty’s belly while she likes on her back in a few minutes. She loves that, and purrs loudly, and it gives me tremendous joy, too! Miss Misty also has no”self” or “self-esteem,” but wanted me to tell you she’s about as happy as happy can be without them!

Here’s the best photo I have of her right now, but I’ll try to get a more glamorous photo for you, as she is very very pretty, with colorful deep eyes and gorgeous silky black fur. I make up love songs and sing to her all the time. She smiles and blinks her eyes while I sing, even though my singing voice is fairly terrible, and I just make up the words while I’m singing.

IMG_1025

Thanks!

David

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

Hey, I have a really great, all-new workshop coming on Friday of this week, right here in California. You still have time to register if you move fast.

A Day of Intimacy Training!

HOW TO DEVELOP STRONGER, DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS WITH CLIENTS, COLLEAGUES, AND LOVED ONES

Friday, June 15th, 2018 in Mt. View, California

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043

Sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CAMFT
(California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists)

In this exciting workshop, you’ll learn how to develop more meaningful and rewarding relationships with your clients as well as the people you care about the most, and you’ll get plenty of helpful feedback while you learn. I’ll be joined by the brilliant and totally wonderful Kyle Jones, a 3rd year PhD student at Palo Alto University. Although I’ll be doing the main teaching, Kyle will help me provide helpful feedback to all of you during the small group exercises.

In the morning, we’ll focus on dealing with challenging, difficult clients, and in the afternoon we will take on a far greater challenge: how to deal with challenging, difficult loved ones!

All of that plus:

  • Free breakfast
  • Free lunch
  • 6 CE credits
  • Lots of fun while learning!

Click here for registration and further details

* * *

Coming in August!

David’s TEAM-CBT Summer Intensive

August 6 – 9, 2018, South San Francisco Conference Center, California

For more information, click here, or call IAHB.org at 800-258-8411

Here are just a few of the really cool things about this intensive:

  • You will have the chance to practice techniques in small groups after I demonstrate each technique with a live demonstration in the front of the room.
  • You will get immediate feedback and personal grooming from me and from many of my colleagues from my weekly TEAM-CBT training group at Stanford. They’ll be there to help you, and I’ll be there to help you, too!
  • There will be a live demonstration on the evening of day 1. The amazing Dr. Jill Levitt will be my co-therapist. Last year’s live demonstration, and in fact all of them in recent years, have been jaw-dropping and incredibly inspirational!
  • You’ll get a chance to practice TEAM-CBT in real time the evening of day 3. This will be an incredibly challenging but rewarding “solo flight.”
  • You will be able to do your own personal work on the last day of the workshop using the Externalization of Voices and Acceptance Paradox. In previous workshops, at least 60% of the participants indicated they experienced jubilant enlightenment during this exercise. Their fears and insecurities suddenly vanished!
  • You’ll learn how to do Relapse Prevention Training (RPT).
  • You’ll learn how to improve your empathy skills.
  • You’ll learn tons of powerful cognitive, behavioral, and motivational treatment techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • You will have the abundant opportunities to schmooze with colleagues, network, and have fun.
  • You will have two fabulous free luncheon banquets featuring talks by Sunny Choi, LCSW, who is using TEAM-CBT successfully with an underserved population in primary care with limited resources and language skills (“I must apologize for my success.”), and the wonderful Vandana Aspen, PhD, who will speak on “New Treatment Strategies for Eating Disorders.”)
  • And much more.

If you can only attend one of my workshops this year, the South San Francisco August intensive is the one to attend!

Self-Acceptance–Are We All Defective?

hike photo 9Hi everybody,

I’ve been getting lots of great emails with questions recently, and will try to get to as many as possible. Here is one from this morning.

Hi Dr. Burns,

I really hope you get to see this! I just wanted to say how I love your book and it has been helping me a lot I bought and read Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, and I’m currently reading your book on anxiety, When Panic Attacks.

But I did want to say one thing. On page 216, near the bottom, it says, ” … in fact, we’re all defective and you can view your ‘defectiveness’ as a reason for suicide or a cause for a celebration….”

I didn’t understand that. That we should view us being defective as a reason to kill ourselves?? It threw me off and I asked my friend to read it over. I just want to know what you meant!

It’s near the bottom second to last paragraph on page 216

Nicole

Hi Nicole,

Sometimes I write things that may be hard to “get” at first, so I appreciate your question. First, let me emphasize that suicide is never appropriate or needed for someone who is feeling depressed and hopeless. However, was writing about something I call the Acceptance Paradox, where you achieve enlightenment by accepting your many shortcomings with a sense of inner peace, or even with a sense of humor. I call that “healthy acceptance.”

And when you “grasp” this notion that it is okay to be flawed and defective, or even wonderful, you can achieve liberation from feelings of depression, anxiety, shame and self-doubt. And it brings you a lot closer to other people, too, because, believe me, there are TONS of other defective people out there, so we can have a party and lots of folks will join us, and we can just hang out and not worry about having to impress each other.

But people who are depressed usually have what I call unhealthy acceptance. They wrongly believe that because they are defective, they should kill themselves.

If you CLICK HERE, you will find a chart that distinguishes healthy from unhealthy acceptance.  As you can see, healthy acceptance is characterized by joy, intimacy, laughter, and creativity. In contrast, unhealthy acceptance is characterized by cynicism, depression, hopelessness, and loneliness.

This is sometimes hard to “see” at first on an emotional level, especially if you are depressed, or prone to depression. But when you suddenly “get it,” it’s like seeing the grand canyon for the first time. It simply takes your breath away, and you discover that it’s only okay to be defective, it’s actually great–in fact, the very BEST way to be!

I am writing something more ambitious on this topic, and I’ll publish it here soon. This is just a beginning note intended to whet your appetite, hopefully at least! What I am writing about now are some of the more philosophical underpinnings of TEAM-CBT, although the notions are actually ancient, and go back at least 2500 years. I will try to address two questions:

  1. Is it possible to be worthwhile or to be worthless?
  2. Do we have a “self”?

Although these themes may seem abstract, they have powerful, practical, emotional consequences. Just one small example, let’s say you struggle with anxiety and shyness. You may have the fear that others will judge you because you are inferior, or not “good enough,” and this thought can cause tremendous suffering. But this thought is based on the notion that you have a “self” that can be evaluated or judged. When you see through this notion, you can experience liberation from your fears.

The Buddhists called this “The Great Death.” Of course, we all fear death, and struggle to keep our egos alive. But once you’ve “died,” so to speak, you can join the Grateful Dead, and then life suddenly opens up in unexpected ways. And for those who may misread me, or interpret my words literally, I am not referring to physical death, but death of the “self.”

So, stay tuned if this type of dialogue interests you! And thanks for reading this!

Doctor David

If you are reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my websitewww.feelinggood.com, and register there as well. You will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, plus all my Feeling Good Podcasts to date, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along tons of resources, including videos for mental health professionals as well as patients and the general public!

Fitness and Self-Esteem

Hi website visitors,I recently received a lovely email and some cool questions from a journalist working for the website, POPSUGAR, (http://www.popsugar.com/), a wellness website which claims more than a billion visitors per year. Wow! That’s a lot! She asked for some help on the topic of self-esteem and body image.Here’s her note:

Hi! Dr. Burns,

Thanks so much for getting back to me; I honestly didn’t know if you’d see my message!

I have some questions for you, and would of course link my interview to Feeling Good, and mention your resources. I have to tell you — your book changed my life, and the lives of many people I’ve talked to who have also struggled with depression and anxiety. I got it for my dad last Father’s Day and he loved it, too.

My idea for our story is centered around the idea that many women deal with a lot of negative self-talk, whether it’s about their physical appearance, fitness journey, abilities, etc. I brought up your 10 categories of distorted thoughts in our staff meeting and how your book teaches someone to identify those and replace those thoughts with ones that are rooted in positivity and reality — we all thought this will be a wonderful trick to teach our readers as well.

Would love to include a quote or two from you in the intro about identifying these thoughts, and how to correct them. In fact, if you could answer these four questions it would be a great help:

  1. How do distorted thoughts affect body image?
  2. Do you think distorted thoughts can be a roadblock in someone’s wellness/fitness journey? How so?
  3. What’s a small piece of advice you could suggest to a woman struggling with poor self-esteem/body-image issues?

And less important, but if you have time:

  1. Do you believe that fitness and healthy eating plays a strong role in having a healthier mindset and more positive / realistic thoughts?

Thank you again for your help on this story, I’m so honored to work with you! Have a great night,

Dominique

To read David’s response, CLICK HERE!

Or, if you prefer to read Dominique’s columns based on her email exchanges with David, here they are:

Dr. Burns,

I just realized I never sent you the finished piece! It did so well and my colleagues LOVED it! Here’s the link (CLICK HERE).

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Stop-Negative-Thoughts-43019339

I also referenced you and that post we worked on together in my latest piece about food shaming. CLICK HERE

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Stop-Food-Shaming-43176079

Let’s definitely work on something again soon — our readers love any mental health topics, and are starting to be more open about anxiety. Excited to do more together soon!