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192: Matter and Anti-Matter

192: Matter and Anti-Matter

“I don’t matter!”

Did you ever feel like you aren’t important? Did you ever feel like you don’t matter? These thoughts are extremely common and can be extremely painful. I know from my clinical experience over the years, with more than 40,000 hours of therapy with people struggling with mild to extreme depression and anxiety. I know from personal experience as well, because I’ve been there personally at times! And one of the reasons I love doing therapy is because of the joy of helping someone transform these feelings of inadequacy and tears into feelings of joy and exuberance, and even laughter.

Today, my highly esteemed colleague, Matthew May MD, and I, work with our highly esteemed and beloved colleague and podcast host, Rhonda Barovsky, on concerns that emerged when a scheduling difficulty made it difficult for Rhonda to join a podcast recording on “The Phobia Cure” which was going to feature Matt May MD doing live exposure with a colleague named Danielle who has an intense fear of leeches. I suggested that Matt, Danielle and I could do the podcast without Rhonda, to save her from having to commute from her office in Walnut Creek, California to the “Murietta studios” twice in one week. (It’s a 90-minute commute in both directions, and sometimes traffic makes it even worse.)

When Rhonda read this email, she was flooded with negative emotions, which you can see on pages 1 and 2 of her Daily Mood Log at the start of her session. As you can see she felt down, anxious, ashamed, inadequate, rejected, self-conscious, angry, jealous, and more, and these feeling were intense.

Have you ever been suddenly and unexpectedly triggered like that?

What triggered Rhonda’s feelings?

According to the TEAM-CBT treatment model, our negative feelings are not the result of what happens, but how we think about it.

So, what were the thoughts that triggered Rhonda’s angst?

Take a look at the negative thoughts on her Daily Mood Log. As you can see, she was telling herself that

  • She didn’t matter and wasn’t important.
  • David didn’t value her.
  • She shouldn’t have such strong negative feelings, like jealousy.
  • The people listening to the podcast (like you, for example) will think she looks like an idiot and will judge her.
  • She shouldn’t be taking up time and space on the podcast in the “patient” role again.

One of the things I like about the TEAM model is that it gives us a clear blueprint about how to proceed. One of the things I love about Rhonda is her openness, vulnerability, courage, and intense desire to teach and reach out to others, like yourself. And one of the things I admire so intensely about Matt is his tremendous kindness and compassion which are coupled with extraordinary technical skills. I feel very blessed to have Matt and Rhonda as colleagues and friends!

In the podcast, we go through the TEAM model, step by step, starting with T = Testing, E = Empathy, A = Assessment of Resistance, and M = Methods. We encountered some tears, some memories of childhood and tons of laughter as well.

During the Assessment of Resistance, we used the Straightforward Invitation, Miracle Cure Question, Positive Reframing, and Magic Dial. To me it is always surprising to see how many positives are embedded in our so-called “negative” feelings and “negative thoughts.” Positive Reframing nearly always eliminates resistance and opens the door to rapid change. You can look at Rhonda’s Positive Reframing list on page 5 of the attachment. You can also take a look at her Emotion’s table when she filled in the Goal column on page 3 of the attachment.

The first thought Rhonda wanted to challenge was “I don’t matter,” and we started with the Downward Arrow Technique to identify the Self-Defeating Beliefs that gave rise to this thought, as you can see on page 4 of the attachment. Rhonda also told a moving story about her father, and how her belief that she was not important may have gotten started. She also told a beautiful story about reconciling with her father eight years before he died.

We used several methods to challenge and crush the thought, “I don’t matter,” including Identify the Distortions, the Double Standard Technique, the Externalization of Voices, the Feared Fantasy, the Acceptance Paradox, and Examine the Evidence to crush this thought. Several role reversals were necessary before Rhonda knocked the ball out of the park.

The first negative thought is generally the most difficult to crush. Once Rhonda no longer believed this thought, she could easily challenge and defeat the rest of her negative thoughts as well, resulting in a dramatic transformation in how she was feeling, as you can see on page 3 of the attachment. It seems like when you crush one negative thought, there is a sudden change in the brain, as if the negative circuits get turned off and the positive circuits get turned on. You will have the chance to hear this first hand when you listen to the live session.

If you’d like to take a peak at Rhonda’s final Daily Mood Log, you’ll see how she challenged all the rest of her Negative Thoughts. (David, link to final DML when you get the final version from Rhonda.)

To review Rhonda’s Evaluation of Therapy Session, click here. 

Although this podcast was long (roughly two hours), it seemed like very little time had passed because the experience was incredibly engaging and rewarding. Rhonda, Matt and I hope you enjoyed it as well, and hope it gave you some help as well, if you—like the rest of us—have ever struggled with the fear that maybe you don’t matter, or aren’t important, either.

Let us know what you think, and thanks for listening today!

Rhonda, Matt, and David

PS Following the podcast, Matt and I received this beautiful email from Rhonda:

Dear David and Matt:

My thanks to you both for an incredibly powerful experience.  I am not enough of a poet to describe my experience and gratitude to you both.  But you helped me tackle something that has been painful for me for such a long time!

I am grateful and humbled by your brilliance and your commitment to me

Rhonda

Matt May, MD practices in Menlo Park California and specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. (https://matthewmaymd.com/)

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You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and specializes in TEAM-CBT for depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. She can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com.

Today’s featured photo is courtesy of Nancy Mueller–www.nancymuellerphotography.com.

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

 

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you will soon be able to pre-order it on Amazon, possibly by the time you read this! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

192: Matter and Anti-Matter

Corona Cast 7: My Struggle with Covid-19! Is it REALLY True that only Our Thoughts Can Upset Us?

Rhonda begins by reading several brief heart-warming endorsements from listeners like you. We are grateful for all of your kind and thoughtful emails endorsing our efforts!

Announcement: My upcoming one-day workshop with Dr. Jill Levitt on the “Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit” on May 17, 2020 WILL happen. It will be exciting and entirely online so we hope you can join us from wherever you are. See the write-up below.

We are joined in today’s podcast by Michael Simpson, who was among the first to contract the Covid-19 virus in New York. Michael was the star of Feeling Good Podcast #169: More on Social Anxiety. The Case for Vulnerability.

I have repeatedly pointed out that our feelings do NOT result from what happens—but rather, from our thoughts about what’s happening. This idea goes back at least 2,000 years, to the teachings of Epictetus, but people still don’t “get it.” People still think that negative events can have a direct impact on how you feel. But that belief makes you the victim of forces beyond your control, because we cannot, for the most part, change what happens—there’s no way we can snap our fingers and make the Covid-19 virus disappear, but we CAN change the way we think about it.

I have also pointed out that the negative thoughts that upset us when we’re depressed and anxious will nearly always be distorted and illogical—remember, depression and anxiety are the world’s oldest cons!

But is this really true?

Michael explains that when he contracted the Covid-19 virus on March 12th, 2020, his first reaction was not fear, but excitement because he thought, “I’m getting it early, and when I recover, I’ll probably have some immunity.”

But he WAS fearful. Of being intubated? Of a long hospital stay? Of death? No! What were his negative thoughts? Michael was telling himself things like this:

People will shun me because I’ve got the virus.

  1. People won’t want to hang out with me any more.
  2. People will judge me as weak and unappealing.
  3. Women won’t be interested in me.
  4. My friends won’t want to talk to me.

These thoughts triggered powerful feelings of shame and anxiety. Can you see any of the familiar cognitive distortions in Michael’s thoughts? Here are a few of the ones I spotted:

  • Mind-Reading: Thinking you know how others are thinking and feeling without any real evidence:
  • Fortune-Telling: Making frightening predictions that aren’t based on any real evidence.
  • Emotional-Reasoning: Reasoning from how you I feel. Michael feels anxious and ashamed, so he thinks others really will judge and reject him.
  • Should Statements: Michael seems to be telling himself that he should be far better than he is to be loved, admired, and accepted by others.
  • Self-Blame: Michael seems to be beating up on himself and telling himself that he’s not good enough.

Michael describes his decision to start posting his symptoms and insecurities on Instagram as a way of testing his fears, which he described as intense. To his surprise and relief, he received something like 150 responses that were overwhelmingly loving and supportive.

Michael was so excited by this feedback that he is thinking of starting his own podcast, where his guests will openly discuss vulnerable and personal topics. We look forward to that! I think it could be quite popular because so many people feel lonely and anxious due to hiding how they really feel, and putting up a false front to the world.

Michael also expands a bit on David’s concept of “fractal psychotherapy.” That’s the idea that all of our suffering results from one tiny pattern of irrationality that repeats itself over and over in many different situations, and ever single time you get upset—whether it’s depression, anxiety, anger—it will be that same fractal flaring up again. Michael said that his fractal is “others will judge me and leave me.”

Other fractals might be “I’m defective,” or “I’m not important,” or “I’m inferior to others.” The goal of therapy is to give you specific skills that you can use to blast your own fractal every time it’s causing problems for you.

On a future podcast, (May 25) we will, in fact, do live therapy with a professional woman you might recognize who had the belief that she wasn’t important. So stayed tuned!

Rhonda, Michael, and David

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

* * *

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

FREE TEAM THERAPY FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Health care workers face incredibly challenging times, having to fight a potentially fatal epidemic without adequate supplies or protection. The TEAM therapy community is now offering free TEAM-CBT treatment for 100 health care workers in Bay Area, California counties. For more information, please go to the website:  Feelinggood.foundation.

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you can now pre-order it on Amazon! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

Corona Cast 6: Love Story, Part 2–the Surprise Conclusion

Corona Cast 6: Love Story, Part 2–the Surprise Conclusion

On April 9, 2020, David and Rhonda did a live TEAM-CBT session with Dr. Taylor Chesney, a former student of David’s who is now the head of the Feeling Good Institute of New York City. Her husband, Gregg, is an ER / ICU (Emergency Room / Intensive Care) doctor in New York, and she was terrified he might contract the corona virus and die. Gregg was also terrified, as he had to intubate two of his colleagues who are struggling in the ICU, and recently had trouble breathing. He is working long hours and lives in a separate apartment to protect Taylor and their three young children.

The response to that podcast was extremely positive. Here’s an email from a therapist in India, Nivedita Singh:

Dear Dr Burns, Rhonda and Taylor,

Just finished listening to your 4th podcast of the Corona series. What an emotional roller coaster learning and healing journey it’s been. Can never ever thank you enough. Living far away in India and watching the Corona story unfold on the international news channels has been overwhelmingly scary for most of us, especially those who have our kids attending different schools in the United States. They share their fears and anxieties or protect us (their parents) by withholding it … both of which makes us feel helpless and fills us with dread.

The podcast today built some amazing perspective. Taylor is a Braveheart to Gregg being a Superhero. The podcast was so pure, had such integrity and absolute raw honesty! It required great courage from Taylor to allow her vulnerability to surface and an equal amount of brilliant skills set by both the therapists to communicate empathy that soothed the right spot not just for Taylor but for everyone of us across the globe who are dealing with the pandemic. When you addressed the distortions you were addressing all of us and our anxieties.The role play method had us confronting our own demons! Yes! All of us on this planet who have families stranded somewhere …  who are battling the virus …  or fighting in the front-lines, felt therapeutically addressed.

I personally found myself choking when Taylor did, relaxing when she relaxed and found myself to be gripped by fear when she became vulnerable again. I was on the rollercoaster with her. By the time the podcast drew to an end I could sense my shoulders relaxing … my breathing getting even and my fists unclenching. Something in the head or somewhere inside of me felt right. I insisted my family and friends listen to the podcast … and the unanimous feedback was that plenty of pennies dropped for all of us at different times in the podcast. You, Dr Burns and Rhonda made all of us feel less anxious, less fearful and more in control of our emotions; and also compassionate and super, super proud of the Greggs and Taylors of the world.

I am extremely grateful to Taylor (who I have met as a beautiful and driven young professional; and I got to see the devoted mum and wife in her) for letting us in to be a part of her journey. Wish her and her family lovely times ahead.This too shall pass …

Stay safe. Take care.

Warmly and even more awestruck (by you Dr Burns). Thank you again for giving us TEAM.

Nivedita Singh

(Your biggest fan this side of the Pacific).

One week after the recording of that podcast, Taylor learned that Gregg, has, in fact, been struck by the Covid-19 virus, so her worst fear has become a reality. What do you think happened? Did the monster have no teeth, as David sometimes argues?

Listen to this powerful podcast and you will find out!

David describes several patients he treated who had intense fears of going bankrupt, who did, in fact, go bankrupt while in treatment. What happened when their worse fears were realized–and why?

The cognitive model states that only our thoughts can upset us, and that the thoughts that upset us will be distorted. Depression and anxiety, David argues, are the world’s oldest cons. Could the cognitive model be correct in this era where we are fighting something that IS real and IS dangerous?

During today’s podcast, Rhonda asks Taylor about her romance with Gregg, how they met, what happened on their first date playing frisbee in Central Park, and how their relationship evolved. Taylor recalls the psychodynamic training she received during her graduate work in clinical psychology, which was all about listening without teaching patients to use specific tools to change. Taylor’s teachers explained that there was no point in trying to change until you discovered the cause of your problems.

Gregg did not agree and urged Taylor to think more about helping her patients change their lives, using specific tools. After all, a medical doctor doesn’t just help patients understand why they have pneumonia–the goal is rapid cure whenever possible–understanding the causes doesn’t necessarily help or lead to change. In addition, the causes of all psychiatric problems are currently unknown, so the focus on endless talk to understand the causes of depression, anxiety, relationship problems or habits and addictions could even be seen as nonsensical.

Taylor had a chance to check this out when she and Gregg moved to California shortly after they were married in 2012. Gregg had a two-year Critical Care fellowship at Stanford, and Taylor joined Dr. Burns TEAM-CBT weekly training group at Stanford to prove that the rapid-change techniques wouldn’t work. But they did work. She concluded that TEAM-CBT really IS all it’s cracked up to be and fell in love with TEAM. The rest his history. When Taylor and Gregg returned home to New York two years later, she founded the highly acclaimed New York Feeling Good Institute. 

During today’s interview, Taylor is caring for her three beautiful and charming children, but they all want mommy’s attention. It’s obviously an overwhelming job, on top of her clinical work with patients, and most moms face similar challenges. Taylor provided several tips for moms who may be listening to the show from home during these days of “Shelter in Place” orders, restricting people all around the world to their homes.

1. Emotional Intelligence Training. I try to check in with each child every day to get an emotional read on how they’re doing. This varies for each child based on their age. For my 6 year old, we use the Yale Mood Meter since that’s what he uses in school. For my 4 year old, I name a few emotions such as happy, angry, sad, and ask her what’s a time today she felt any of those. For my 2 year old, I try to find a time where he’s thrown a toy or pushed a sibling and mention an emotion he might be feeling such as happy, sad, or angry, and act it out. He often just laughs but it starts to help him develop his emotional intelligence.

2. Scheduling. Every evening I write out our daily schedule for the following day. This helps to keep me organized, but also helps my children know what to expect each day and gives us a flexible guide for the day. This includes things such as meals, brushing teeth, nap time, screen time, social time, exercise, and academics.

Certain activities are required, while others are more flexible. Since my kids are just 2, 4, and 6 years old, there are fewer “requirements” but over time I plan to try to push them a little more to stick to the schedule. Since social distancing and being home is something we have not had any practice with, I want to ease into our new schedule.

3. Independent play. I schedule some time for independent play each day. This is a skill I’ve really been focusing on with each child, and find that it’s important for them to learn to play by themselves. Social playing is great, but learning to be alone is important as well!

For my 6 year old the goal is 20 mins, for my 2 year old it’s 10 mins with minimal help from mommy. We make it a fun game, and they get a  small reward if they are able to reach their goal. The rewards could include a hug, high-five, praise, stickers or even a new action figure. I try to switch the types of rewards to keep it fun and interesting, and also so they’re not just doing it so that they get X privilege or Y toy.

4. Little Steps for Big Feets. I try to set small, manageable goals each day for each child as well as myself. Sometimes it’s something I impose on the kids such as “today each of you will help me with one chore, such as taking the garbage out, cleaning up your toys, washing the table, etc.”

At other times it’s something they want to learn. For example my daughter wants to learn to write her name so for several days her goal was to practice writing her name four times. For me it’s usually a small manageable goal related to work or house-cleaning. This is similar to David’s principle of “little steps for big feets!” For example, instead of saying I’ll clean my entire apartment today, I focus on one small goal that I can attain.

Taylor gives an awesome example of how to use the Five Secrets of Effective Communication with small children, especially when they are angry or upset. This is an example every parent might want to emulate! And it’s the first example I’ve heard of how to do this!

Thanks for tuning in, and please let us know what you thought about today’s program!

Rhonda, Taylor, and David

Taylor Chesney, PsyD is the Founder of  Feeling Good Institute-NYC, where she serves as Director of Treatment and Training. She specializes in the treatment of children and teenagers with TEAM-CBT.

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

* * *

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

FREE TEAM THERAPY FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Health care workers face incredibly challenging times, having to fight a potentially fatal epidemic without adequate supplies or protection. The TEAM therapy community is now offering free TEAM-CBT treatment for 100 health care workers in Bay Area, California counties. For more information, please go to the website:  Feelinggood.foundation.

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you will soon be able to pre-order it on Amazon, possibly by the time you read this! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

Corona Cast 6: Love Story, Part 2–the Surprise Conclusion

Corona Cast 4: I Might Lose My Husband!

David and Rhonda are joined in today’s podcast by Dr. Taylor Chesney, a former student of David’s who is now the head of the Feeling Good Institute of New York City. She is a prominent TEAM-CBT therapist and trainer, and specializes in the treatment of children and teenagers.

Taylor kindly agreed to do some live work today on her panic and despair because of the impact of the pandemic on her family. Her situation is especially challenging and poignant because her husband, Gregg, is a highly esteemed Emergency Room / Intensive Care physician in New York, and he is constantly working to save the lives of Covid-19 victims. Ten days ago he moved to a separate apartment several blocks away so he will not put his wife and children in harm’s way in case he contracts the Covid-19 virus.

But will he, himself, be struck down by this vicious virus? He told Taylor that he recently had to intubate several of his colleagues, which is horrifying. Taylor fears that  she may lose her beloved husband, and that her three children may have to grow up without a father. She also feels overwhelmed because she’s supporting many people now.

David begins with a brief overview of the cognitive model, including several key points:

  1. All negative feelings result from thoughts, and not from what’s actually happening. So even in a crisis that is as real and devastating as the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our emotions will still result from the way we think about it. Remember the teachings of Epictetus 2,000 years ago, when he wrote: “People are disturbed, not by things, but by the views we take of them.”

This is potentially empowering, because we usually cannot change the fact—the pandemic is real and we are powerless to make it disappear—but we may be able to change our perceptions (eg thoughts, or “cognitions”) about what’s happening.

There’s a healthy and an unhealthy version of every kind of negative feeling. For example, healthy fear is not the same as unhealthy anxiety; healthy sadness and grief are not the same as clinical depression; healthy remorse is not the same as neurotic guilt. And so forth. Our goal is not teaching you how to be happy all the time no matter what—that would be absurd—but simply to reduce or eliminate unhealthy negative feelings.

  1. Healthy negative feelings result from valid negative thoughts, and do not have to be “treated.” Unhealthy negative feelings, in contrast, result from negative thoughts that are distorted and illogical. David reminds us that even in a crisis, depression and anxiety are still the world’s oldest cons, and that you CAN change the way you feel.

But is this possible? It just doesn’t sound right! Can Taylor really change the way she thinks and feels when the crisis is so overwhelming and so real? And can you?

As the session unfolds, Taylor tearfully describes her intense fears for her husband, who she loves so greatly, as well as their three young children. She says that 75% of the time, she’s “okay,” when she’s awake and involved with caring for her kids, but 25% of the time—especially late at night when she’s alone with the kids—things get pretty desperate, and sobs for 30 minutes or more while experiencing “sheer terror.”

What’s making the situation more painful is that Gregg is temporarily living six blocks away in order to protect his family in the event he does contract the potentially deadly virus. Taylor says that “it feels like we’re kicking him out. He’s at war. He’s fighting, struggling, suffering.” She says he’s passionate about his work, but she wishes he’d quit!

Take a look at Taylor’s  Daily Mood Log at the start of the session. As you can see, she is focusing on how she is feeling every night before going to sleep. She circled seven different categories of negative feelings, and all are intense, including the depression, anxiety and frustration clusters (all are 100%), the lonely and hopeless categories (both 90%), as well as feeling “bad” (50%.)

You can also see the negative thoughts she recorded. She is telling herself that:

Negative Thoughts % Now
1.      I shouldn’t have to do this alone. 90
2.      I can’t handle parenting alone. 70
3.      I shouldn’t burden Gregg with my feelings. 70
4.      I shouldn’t share my feelings. 50
5.      I should be strong and tough. 80
6.      I’ll let my patients down if I don’t have enough time for them. 50
7.      I’ll lose Gregg. 50 – 100
8.      I shouldn’t have to do this. 100
9.      I should be able to work and support my family while Gregg stays at home safely. 50

You can also see that her belief in these thoughts varied from 50% to 100%.

After empathizing for 30 minutes, Rhonda and David asked about her goals for the session, which would be to turn down the intensity of her negative feelings. Together, Rhonda, Taylor and David do Positive Reframing, asking two questions about each negative thought and feeling:

  1. What does this negative thought or feeling show about Taylor that’s positive and awesome?
  2. What are some benefits, or advantages, of this negative thought or feeling?

Together, they generate an impressive list of Positives. Then Taylor decides she can use the Magic Dial and reduce her negative feelings, while not eliminating them completely, as you can see at this link.

Then they use a variety of techniques to challenge each negative thought, staring with #4, “I shouldn’t share my feelings.” Taylor identifies many distortions in this thought, including Should Statement, Emotional Reasoning, Mind-Reading, Self-Blame, and Mental Filter.

Taylor decides to think about it like this instead:

“It’s okay to share my feelings. It could bring us closer together. It’s human to be struggling, given the circumstances. My feelings matter to Gregg.”

She believes this Positive Thought 100%, and her belief in the Negative Thought fell to 5%, which was enough, since there was a little truth in the thought. You might have to be thoughtful about the timing of self-disclosure.

Rhonda and David continue to challenge the rest of Taylor’s Negative Thoughts, using a variety of techniques such as the Externalization of Voices, Acceptance Paradox, Paradoxical Double Standard Technique, and more. The most challenging Negative Thought was #7—her fear that Gregg might die.

At the end of the session Taylor recorded a substantial reduction in her negative feelings.

Thanks for tuning in, and please let us know what you thought about today’s program!

Rhonda, Taylor, and David

Taylor Chesney, PsyD is Director of Treatment and Training,  Feeling Good Institute-NYC,

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

* * *

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

FREE TEAM THERAPY FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Health care workers face incredibly challenging times, having to fight a potentially fatal epidemic without adequate supplies or protection. The TEAM therapy community is now offering free TEAM-CBT treatment for 100 health care workers in Bay Area, California counties. For more information, please go to the website:  Feelinggood.foundation.

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you will soon be able to pre-order it on Amazon, possibly by the time you read this! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA

Corona Cast 3: Quieting Conflict / Boosting Love

Corona Cast 3: Quieting Conflict / Boosting Love

My mother won’t follow my advice!

David and Rhonda are joined in today’s podcast by Alex Clarke, MD, a former student of David’s who is practicing TEAM therapy at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California, and by Zeina Halim, a TEAM therapist and student in David’s Tuesday Stanford psychotherapy training group.

In our last two podcasts (Corona Cast 1 and 2) (links) we focused on the impact of the corona crisis on internal feelings like depression, anxiety, panic, hopelessness, and so forth. In this week’s Corona Cast 3, we will switch our focus to the impact of the pandemic on personal relationships, using a real example. Zeina was concerned that her mother, aged 72, was not being sufficiently careful about social distancing. Zeina felt panicky because she feared her mother might get the virus and die.

However, Zeina’s mother is very self-reliant and independent, and didn’t take kindly to Zeina’s frequent reminders to do this or do that so as to be safe. They ended up arguing and feeling frustrated with each other.

Perhaps you’ve also run into problems with friends and loved ones because of the corona crisis. When people get confined into close quarters, under conditions of intense stress and uncertainty, clashes are almost inevitable.

When you’re angry with someone , you’ll nearly always be viewing the other person in a distorted way. For example, you may be telling yourself that s/he “should” not think, feel or behave the way he or she is thinking, feeling, or behaving. Of course, this is a classic other-directed “should statement.”

Or you may be telling yourself that the other person is being “stubborn” or “unreasonable” (Labeling; Mind-Reading). Or you may tell yourself that you’re right and the other person is wrong (All-or-Nothing Thinking; Blame). And in most cases, you’ll be telling yourself that the conflict is the other person’s fault and that you’re the innocent victim of his or her bad behavior (Blame.)

These are just a few of the cognitive distortions (link) that fuel conflict. But it’s these distorted thoughts, and NOT what the other person is thinking, feeling, or saying, that actually causes your negative feelings. You are making yourself angry–the other person is NOT causing your anger or frustration! You are creating these feelings. And the thoughts that trigger these feeling are wrong thoughts.

This can be a VERY hard pill to swallow. You, and not the person you’re mad at, are triggering your feelings of frustration and anger. In addition, the thoughts that upset you are not valid. They’re distorted, and just plain WRONG.

If you don’t like this message, you might want to stop reading! I get it! It is SO MUCH more rewarding to blame the other person!

In today’s podcast, we discuss and illustrate a sophisticated TEAM-CBT technique called “Forced Empathy” (link). Forced Empathy forces you see things from the perspective of someone you’re at odds with. It will ONLY be effective if you want a closer relationship with the person you’re at odds with. If you want to remain in battle–as most people do–then you’re welcome to do that. Go for it.

If, in contrast, you do want to feel closer and more loving, Forced Empathy can lead to a helpful shift in how you think about the person you’re angry with. When you suddenly see things through the eyes of the person you’re angry with, you may suddenly discover that your thoughts about the other person’s motives were not correct.

Alex and David describe how the technique works in a step-by-step way, and then illustrate it with a role-play between Zeina and her mother. This is a recreation of the technique they used live in the Stanford Tuesday group a couple weeks before the recording.

Forced Empathy proved to be extraordinarily helpful to Zeina, and brought tears to her eyes. Once she saw things from her mother’s perspective, the tone of their interactions suddenly softened, and the tension was replaced by feelings of love and acceptance.

Zeina was surprised to discover that, among other things, her mother, while not wanting to die, had no fear of death, but didn’t appreciate being constantly told what to do, or what not to do, and that she loved and admired Zeina tremendously.

Zeina also discovered that in the highly unlikely event that her mother did die, she would want to spend her last days or weeks with her Zeina, feeling close, and loving one another, instead of arguing.

Is this relevant to you and your friends and loved ones? In today’s podcast, we talk about how you can improve your relationships with friends and loved ones during these challenging times using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication.

We emphasized one of the important take home messages in podcast 164 on “How to Help, and How NOT to Help.” Sometimes, people just want someone to care about them and listen, without having someone trying to help them or give them advice. Learning to do this can be incredibly freeing, but it’s not easy, because so many of us are addicted to “helping.”

If you want some additional help, check out David’s book, Feeling Good Together which you can purchase inexpensively on amazon.

Thanks for tuning in, and let us know what you thought about today’s program!

Until next time,

Rhonda, Alex, Zeina, and David

Dr. Alex Clarke specializes in TEAM-CBT, and can be reached at alex@clarkemd.com.  Zeina Halim, MA, AMFT specializes in the treatment of TEAM-CBT executives wanting to boost performance, as well as anyone aged 16 or older struggling with depression or anxiety. She can be reached at zeinahalimtherapy@gmail.com. She is supervised and employed by Matthew May, MD.

You can reach Dr. Burns at david@feelinggood.com. Dr. Rhonda Barovsky practices in Walnut Creek, California, and specializes in TEAM-CBT for depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. She can be reached at rbarovsky@aol.com.

Today’s featured photo of Zeina is courtesy of Nancy Mueller photograpy in Los Altos California.

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

* * *

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

FREE TEAM THERAPY FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS

Health care workers face incredibly challenging times, having to fight a potentially fatal epidemic without adequate supplies or protection. The TEAM therapy community is now offering free TEAM-CBT treatment for 100 health care workers in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. For more information, please contact the Feeling Good Foundation.

* * *

This is the cover of my new book, Feeling Great. It will be released in September of 2020, but you will soon be able to pre-order it on Amazon, possibly by the time you read this! 
CoverFeelingGreat1

Need Training or CE Credits?

Check Out these Awesome Upcoming Workshops!

The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit:
How to Crush Negative Thoughts

With Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

May 17, 2020 | 7 CE hours. $135 (online only)

TEAM-CBT includes more than 100 powerful techniques to change the distorted thoughts that trigger negative emotions. But what techniques should I select for my patient who feels depressed, anxious, or angry?

As you know, in my book, Feeling Good, I listed the ten most common cognitive distortions, like All-or-Nothing Thinking, Should Statements, Emotional Reasoning, and more, and you probably use that list all the time in your clinical work. But do you know which techniques work the best for each distortion?

Come to this workshop and find out! You’ll learn with tons of cool techniques you can use every day to boost your clinical effectiveness.

This workshop will be live-streamed (and in person in Palo Alto, CA) so you can join from anywhere in the world! There will be many expert online helpers to assist you with the small-group exercises.

Move rapidly if you want to come. We are already SOLD OUT in person, but there are still slots available online.

There will be many helpers from the Feeling Good Institute to assist and guide you in the small group exercises in person and online as well.  Our last workshop on resistance in February was our most highly rated ever! We hope to make this a terrific and fun learning experience for you, too!

Learn More & Register

* * *

2-Day Clinical Master Class

Rapid Recovery from Anxiety Disorders–
GAD, Phobias, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety,
OCD, PTSD and Health Anxiety

by David D. Burns, MD

June 4 – 5, 2020, Seattle, Washington

* * *

The All-New Annual South San Francisco Intensive!

Enhanced Empathy Training

August 10 – 13, 2020

It’s Going to Be Awesome!

Videos, Live Demonstrations

Small Group Practice with

Personal Feedback and Mentoring,

and Chances for Personal Work and Healing

During this four-day intensive workshop you will learn:

  • How to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with challenging, difficult clients.
  • How to deal skillfully with people who refuse to open up and talk to you; won’t listen; are relentlessly critical, narcissistic or controlling; always have to be right; use, abuse, or exploit you; complain endlessly; are hostile, threatening or violent; as well as clients who are overwhelmed, hopeless and suicidal.
  • How to develop more loving relationships with the people you care about—as well as the ones you don’t.
  • Powerful new techniques to help clients who are struggling with conflicts with loved ones, friends, or colleagues.
  • How to deal with the inner chatter and powerful feelings that make it so difficult to deal with conflict when you feel angry or hurt.
  • How to identify and modify the self-defeating beliefs that make us vulnerable to conflicts with others.
  • How to identify and melt away the intense outcome and process resistance that make the treatment of relationship problems so challenging.

Learn More and Register

* * *

Watch for the Awesome

December Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference

Anaheim, December 9 – 13, 2020

Sponsored by the Erikson Institute

It is always spectacular and I’ll be presenting, too!

Details TBA