This podcast features David D. Burns MD, author of "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy," describing powerful new techniques to overcome depression and anxiety and develop greater joy and self-esteem. For therapists and the general public alike!
From Feeling Good to Feeling Great!
In today’s podcast, we discuss a few of the many differences between Feeling Good, my first book, and my new book, Feeling Great, which was just released. We also discuss some of the differences between the cognitive therapy that I launched in Feeling Good, and the powerful new TEAM therapy that I feature in Feeling Great.
I wrote Feeling Great because there’s been a radical and enormous evolution of the treatment methods and theories in the 40 years that have elapsed since I first published Feeling Good in 1980. I now have many more techniques than I had then, and there’s been with a radical development in my understanding of the causes of depression. I also have new ideas about the most effective treatment techniques, based on my clinical experience since I wrote Feeling Good (more than 40,000 hours treating individuals with severe depression and anxiety), as well as fresh insights about what's important, and what's not, based on four decades of my research on how psychotherapy really works.
Rhonda asks many questions about the unique features of TEAM including the new T = Testing techniques, the new E = Empathy techniques, the A = Assessment of Resistance techniques, as well as the M = Methods.
Rhonda is particularly curious about the four “Great Deaths” of the therapist’s ego in TEAM therapy, which correspond to the four TEAM components of TEAM, as well as the four “Great Deaths” of the patient’s ego, which correspond to recovery from depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and habits and addictions. One of the goals of TEAM is not simply the complete and rapid elimination of the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but the development of personal enlightenment and the experience of great joy and a deeper appreciation of life.
Toward the end of the podcast, David tearfully talks about the life of his hero, Ludwig Wittgenstein, who is viewed by many as the greatest philosopher of all time, and David, a philosophy major when he was a student at Amherst College, would definitely agree with this assessment. But Wittgenstein was very lonely, and prone to depression, because very few people understood his ground-breaking contributions when he was still alive. In fact, it was thought that only five or six people in the world “got it.” Part of the problem is that what he was saying was so basic and obvious that most people just could grasp it, or the extraordinarily profound implications of his work.
His depression and loneliness, sadly, perhaps also resulted from the fact that he was gay, and living at a time when this was far less acceptable than it is today.
He never published anything when he was alive, because when he was depressed, he thought he'd made no meaningful or enduring contributions. However, his remarkable book, Philosophical Investigations was published in 1950, following his death, and was soon regarded as the greatest book in the history of philosophy. Because of that book, David gave up his goal of a career in philosophy, since Wittgenstein wanted all of his students to give up philosophy and do something practical instead.
So that’s what I did! My only regret is never having the chance to meet Wittgenstein and tell him, “I got it!” and thank him for his incredible contributions. If you want to learn more, check out the short read by his favorite student, Norman Malcolm, who wrote “Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir.” I cry like a baby every time I read the book, and tears come to my eyes when I even look at the book, which is proudly displayed in my office. If you ever visit me at home, make sure you check out the book.
I feel so fortunate to be able to work with Rhonda and bring my message to so many of you every week. Thank you for your support! [Note from Rhonda: I feel extremely honored to work with David and be a part of bringing David's message, and the TEAM t
The Achievement Addiction: Bane or Blessing? Part 2
How to Change a Self-Defeating Belief (SDB) (cont'd)
Last week, you had the chance to listen to our Tuesday training group at Stanford as we worked on the "Achievement Addiction," Part 1 (Podcast 211). Although we were working with a therapist named Zeina Halim, it turned out that just about everybody in the group had this belief, and perhaps you do, too--thinking that your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your achievements, hard work, and productivity.
This belief, which is also known as the Calvinist work ethic (e.g. you are what you do) is actually at the heart of Western Civilization. And while it can trigger intense achievement, it can sometimes also trigger angst, including feelings of depression, anxiety, and endless self-doubt, wondering if you and your achievements are "good enough."
In last week's podcast, we played the first half of the Tuesday group's session, featuring the Cost-Benefit Analysis. In today's group, we play the the recording of the last half of the group, featuring these three additional techniques. At the end of today's recording, Zeina joins us and talks about the session, and the techniques that were the most meaningful for her.
The Semantic Technique. This involves change at the intellectual level. If you decide that a SDB is not working to your advantage when you do a CBA, you can you modify it so you can keep all the advantages you listed while getting rid of most if not all of the disadvantages. This is a bit of practical personal philosophy exercise with significant emotional implications. The group members came up with a wide variety of alternate beliefs, and I critiqued several of them, pointing out the benefits and pitfalls of each new version. The Feared Fantasy. Here's where change at the gut level begins, and you also can begin to challenge the idea that high achievers really are more worthwhile. We did a version of this technique that I've often demonstrated in my workshops called the "High School Reunion." It is a humor-based technique, but the goal is to make a powerful point at the gut level, so you can (hopefully) suddenly "see" that it is simply not true that people who achieve a great deal really are more worthwhile human beings. The Double Standard Technique. Here's where change at the gut level continues, and you will hear a beautiful example in Zeina's dramatic interaction with Dr. Levitt. Dr. Levitt plays the role of someone trying to figure out if she really is less worthwhile than people who achieve a great deal more. Rhonda and I hope you enjoyed our podcasts on the Achievement Addiction. We'd also like to thank our courageous Zeina for sharing her very personal work with all of us. Live work--and showing how a technique works--is generally far more inspiring and illuminating than simply teaching how a technique works.
Please let us know if you'd like more Feeling Good Podcasts like this in the future, with recordings from our weekly training group, and also if there are additional Self-Defeating Beliefs you'd like us to feature.
My new book Feeling Great, is now available on Amazon (see the link below) as a hardbound volume or as an eBook. It features all the new TEAM therapy techniques, and is geared for therapists as well as the general public.
Rhonda and David
How to Change a Self-Defeating Belief (SDB)
How to Change a Self-Defeating Belief (SDB)
Many of you have expressed an interest in my free Tuesday training group for mental health professionals. Today, you can attend, thanks to the generosity of our group in allowing the group to be recorded on Zoom, and thanks Zeina, the group member who courageously volunteered to have us work on her “Achievement Addiction.” I also want to thank my beloved and brilliant co-teacher, Dr. Jill Levitt, who always adds tremendously to our group, on so many different levels.
Last week, we taught the group members how to pinpoint Self-Defeating Beliefs that trigger depression and anxiety, and we promised to show them how to challenge and modify a Self-Defeating Belief in the group you’re about to “attend.” We decided to focus on the Achievement Addiction, which is the belief that your worthwhileness as a human being depends on your achievements and productivity.
Perhaps you share this belief! Most people do.
Here’s how a Self-Defeating Belief works. Let’s say that you base your self-esteem on your achievements. As long as you think you’re achieving and being successful, we would predict that you’ll feel happy and contented. But we would also predict that you may experience episodes of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt when you fail or fall short of your goals and expectations. That’s when you’ll be most likely to start beating up on yourself with distorted negative thoughts, like “I’m a loser,” or “I shouldn’t have screwed up,” or “I’m not good enough.”
So, in short, the combination of an SDB (“My worthwhileness is based on my achievements”) plus a negative event, like a perceived failure, triggers distorted thoughts (like “I’m a failure” or “loser”) which trigger negative feelings, like depression, anxiety, shame, inferiority, or even suicidal thoughts. In addition, cognitive therapists believe that if you modify the SDB, it will not only help you in the here-and-now, but it can also make you less vulnerable to painful mood swings in the future. But how in the world can you do that?
If you like, take a look at the list of 23 common Self-Defeating Beliefs and see if you can find any of yours!
Zeina said she wanted help with her tendency to base her feelings of happiness and self-esteem on her accomplishments. In the group, we demonstrated four techniques for changing this or any SDB, including:
The Cost-Benefit Analysis. You list the advantages and disadvantages of the belief you want to change. You can find the one we worked on with Zeina during the group if you click this link. If you want a blank one you can work with, you can find one on page 2 of this link. The Semantic Technique. This involves change at the intellectual level. if the SDB is not working to your advantage, could you modify it so you can keep all the advantages you listed while getting rid of most if not all of the disadvantages. This is a bit of practical personal philosophy exercise with significant emotional implications. The Feared Fantasy. Here's where change at the gut level begins, and you also can begin to challenge the idea that high achievers really are more worthwhile. The Double Standard Technique. Here's where change at the gut level continues, and you can hear a beautiful example in Zeina's dramatic interaction with Dr. Levitt. In today's part 1 podcast, we completed the Cost-Benefit Analysis. I would urge you to do your own CBA while you're listening. When you're done, balance the advantages against the disadvantages on a 100 point scale. Put two numbers in the circles at the bottom to show whether the advantages or disadvantages are greater. For example, if the advantages of this belief greatly outweigh the disadvantages, you might put 80 - 20 in the two circles. If the advantages and disadvantages of this belief are about equal, you ca
Corona Cast 8: Live Therapy with Dan. How Could You Treat an “Existential Depression” in the Midst of a Pandemic?
Corona Cast 8: Live Therapy with Dan. How Could You Treat an “Existential Depression” in the Midst of a Pandemic?
Today David and Dr. Jill Levitt feature live work with Dan, a licensed clinical social worker who’s been struggling with an “existential depression” for 15 years, but it has been recently exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The session took place in one hour and forty minutes on a Tuesday evening on July 23rd, 2020, in David’s and Jill’s Tuesday training group at Stanford.
Live personal work is one form of training that is vital to professional growth and learning, so it is extremely beneficial for the person who volunteers for the role of “patient.” At the same time, the live work also provides superb learning for those observing the process, since you can see what is really happening during a T.E.A.M. therapy session. Hopefully, you will learn a great deal as you listen to Dan’s live and uncensored therapy session.
Jill and I feel very grateful to Dan for allowing us to publish such an intensely painful and personal experience. You will likely feel grateful to Dan as well!
All live therapy sessions tend to be dramatic and illuminating from a variety of perspectives. Today’s session is unique in that the A = Assessment of Resistance was outstanding and unique. The remarkable changes that occurred would not have been possible without outstanding E = Empathy and A = Assessment of Resistance, which were stellar.
However, the M = Methods portion of the session was also strong, especially in the use of humor and role-reversals during the Externalization of Voices to blast Dan’s Negative Thoughts out of the water. That portion of the session confirmed by the three basic tenants of cognitive therapy:
You FEEL the way you THINK. All of your negative feelings are caused by your thoughts in the here-and-now, and not by the actual events in your life. In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic cannot “cause” anyone to feel depressed or anxious.
Depression and anxiety are the world’s oldest cons. When you’re depressed, anxious, or angry, the Negative Thoughts that upset you will not be valid. They’ll be distorted and illogical. Depression and anxiety are the world’s oldest cons. You can see the ten cognitive distortions I first published in my book, Feeling Good, at the bottom of Dan’s Daily Mood Log (link).
You can CHANGE the way you FEEL. The very instant you stop believing your distorted thoughts, your feelings will change. Recovery is not a long, drawn-out process that requires weeks, months, years or decades, as so many people believe, including the majority of mental health professionals. Recovery happens in a flash, an unexpected “ah-ha” moment when your perceptions of the world are suddenly transformed. You will witness such an event in today’s session.
Now let’s see what actually happened!
T = Testing
Take a look at Dan’s Brief Mood Survey (BMS) at the start of the session. He was feeling moderate to severe depression, no suicidal impulses, and just a little anxiety and anger. His Happiness score was quite low, only 7 out of 20, paralleling his depression score of 12, and his satisfaction with his relationship with his wife was a perfect 30 out of 30. He indicated he’d been doing a lot of psychotherapy homework.
This, by the way, is the latest version of the BMS. We’ll ask him to complete it again at the end of the session to see what changes occurred during the session. Because the BMS asks how Dan is feeling “right now,” it’s like an emotional x-ray machine, allowing therapists to see exactly how much, or how little, a patient is changing at every therapy session. The patient’s scores at the start of the next session also allow the therapist to see exactly what happens between sessions in multiple dimensions.
At the end of today’s sessi
Flirting Secrets Revealed: with Expert Jacob Towery, MD
Social anxiety has been one of our most popular topics. It seems like lots of people get anxious in social situations. and a great many have even greater difficulties talking to strangers and people they might be interested in dating.
When I was in private practice, social anxiety, and “singleness,” were exceptionally common. In fact, 60% of my patients were single—they’d been divorced and didn’t know how to get back into the dating scene, or, they’d never developed romantic relationships in the first place. So today, we offer more tips and help for people who are afflicted with social anxiety.
Rhonda and I are very proud and excited to be joined today by a brilliant colleague and expert on social anxiety, Dr. Jacob Towery. Dr. Towery is a Stanford-trained pediatric psychiatrist, and was a student of mine when he was a psychiatric resident, He practices in Palo Alto and helps teach our weekly Tuesday TEAM therapy training group at Stanford.
Today (the day we recorded this podcast) was Jacob’s 41st birthday, so Rhonda and I sang a rousing Happy Birthday for Jacob at the start of the podcast! He kindly tolerated our fairly awful but heartfelt rendition of that classic song. Perhaps you could think of it as our own (fairly mild) Shame-Attacking Exercise.
As we begin today’s podcast, Rhonda reads a sad but moving email from Davide, who desperately wants to open up and connect with people on a deeper level, but says “these things scare me like hell.” In his email below, he describes his struggles and lists his negative thoughts about talking to people he doesn’t know. He is especially afraid of Self-Disclosure—telling people that he struggles with social anxiety.
To his credit, Davide has made significant progress, has worked hard on challenging many of his negative thoughts and self-defeating beliefs, and already has a girlfriend! But he wants to take his progress and growth to a new level.
Here’s the email I received from Davide:
There is no month that I don't listen to your podcast and take some notes. Yes, you can read my email and use my real name as you like!
I really think that your methodology is a breakthrough in self-help and coping with emotions.
Also, the new technique of positive reframing is very helpful. When I started using it for myself at the beginning of every daily mood log I really noticed a faster improvement. I completely agree with your vision that it would be better if there weren't schools of psychotherapy but tools that work.
Your books and works have really changed my life for better and I'm looking forward your next book Feeling Great! In these two years I have done many Daily Mood Log, I have also done every day for a month the Smile and Hello Practice and I got a girlfriend for the first time in my life!
I'm still not very good at breaking my negative thoughts though. I often end up with a lengthy, verbose and not so effective positive thought. Sometimes it seems that I understand rationally that a negative thought isn't true, but I don't feel better.
Also, my social anxiety is reduced, but not gone. I still have a lot of social anxiety when I'm around people. I understand the Spotlight Fallacy and Brushfire Fallacy at the intellectual level and I'm definitely improved a little, but still today I can't remember a single good conversation with a person that I don’t know and I'm not very comfortable with. I tried to use the Five Secrets but I can't think of anything good to say in real conversations.
I want to do some shame-attacking exercises and also disclosure to random people on the street about my social anxiety, but these things scare me like hell and I don't have the courage to do these exercises. I know that these will help, but I feel really really scared and so far, I haven’t mustered up enough courage.
I want to leave home (I'm in Italy)
Live Therapy with Neil Sattin, part 2: "Wow! The Changes Were Real!"
Last week you heard Part 1 of David’s TEAM Therapy session with Neil Sattin, who became pretty despondent and discouraged right after the first shut down because of the covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020. David and Neil went through the T = Testing and E = Empathy parts of TEAM, and David helped Neil develop a Daily Mood Log so he could record his negative thoughts and feelings at one specific moment at the end of a day when he was feeling like he hadn’t gotten enough work done. Perhaps you’ve had the same problem at times!
Today you’ll hear the A = Assessment of Resistance and M = Methods parts of the session. As they begin, David asks Neil the Magic Button and Miracle Cure questions, and Neil says that he definitely does want help and would push the Magic Button to make all of his negative thoughts and feelings on his Daily Mood Log disappear.
David cautions against that and suggests Positive Reframing, asking two questions about each negative thought and feeling.
What does this thought or feeling show about you that’s positive and awesome? What are some potential benefits, or advantages, of this thought or feeling? Here’s Neil’s list of Positives:
Shows that I’m ambitious Motivates me to achieve a lot Shows that I have high standards My anxiety:
Shows that I’m responsible Keeps me vigilant Fuels me to take action Reminds me that I’m doing important things My guilt:
Shows that I have a moral compass My feelings of defectiveness and inadequacy:
Show that I want to be a good role model Show that I’m willing to be honest about my flaws Show that I hold myself accountable Show that I’m humble My feelings of being alone show that:
I value connections with others Allow me to feel close to people My feelings of embarrassment and humiliation show that:
I have high standards and goals I want my life to mean something I value acceptance My discouragement shows that:
I have a vision I’m realistic about the many challenges I face and the sheer volume of work I have to do I’m willing to face the truth My frustration shows that:
I’ll persevere. I won’t stop and give up. Feeling annoyed and irritated:
Shows that I won’t tolerate things that get in my way Gives me energy and determination Feeling overwhelmed:
Reminds me that I might be taking on too much Protects me from trying and failing Shows that I’m looking for ways to take care of myself. After listing these positives, Neil used the Magic Dial and indicated that he’d like to dial down his negative feelings to lower levels, rather than getting rid of them entirely, as you can see in the “% Goal” column of his Daily Mood Log.
Then they moved on to M = Methods, focusing first on Neil’s Negative Thought (NT):
“I’m not capable of getting organized. After identifying a number of distortions in the thought, Neil was able to generate a positive thought that fulfilled the necessary and sufficient conditions for emotional change:
The Positive Thought (PT) has to be 100% true. The PT has to drastically lower your belief in the Negative Thought. You can see this on his DML. David and Neil used a variety of techniques, including Externalization of Voices, to challenge the rest of his NTs. Neil re-rated his negative feelings at the end of the session. They all feel to zero except feeling alone, which went from 80 to 5, which was his goal.
Rhonda and David
Customer ReviewsSee All
Best mental health podcast
I read all the books by David burns and the podcast is such a good addition, really approachable
Thank you, David and Team. Life Giving.
my go to podcast.
Highly recommend this podcast to anyone struggling with depression or anxiety. Dr. Burns and his team are very down to earth and do a great job in sharing tools that can really help combat this illness. Each podcast it focused and well thought out.