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Apr 26, 2021

239: Ten Days to Self-Esteem, Featuring Dawn O’Meally

Dawn O’Meally is a licensed mental health professional from Westminster, Maryland who purchased my book, Ten Days to Self-Esteem workbook (link) as well as the Ten Days to Self-Esteem Leader’s Manual for at a workshop she attended in 2002. This is a 10-class self-esteem training program for patients and the general public. The groups can be led by a therapist or lay person. This book was the basis of a large and successful treatment program at the hospital where I practiced in Philadelphia.

Dawn described reading the books and telling herself, “I can do this!” Since that time, she has conducted roughly four Ten Days groups per year. The improvement in her patients has been phenomenal, due, in large part, to her spark, creativity, and gift for teaching and inspiring individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

In the podcasts she takes us through the first seven steps of the ten-step program, and reads testimonials from patients like Julie who wrote: “I had many WOW moments. This book is my bible!”

If you are interested in setting up a similar program in your area, feel free to contact Dawn at

I think it is fair to say that today’s podcast is electrifying, and filled with the same excitement that Dawn brings to her patients! Dawn describes herself as a little like Miss Frizzle with her Magic Schoolbus. I’m not personally familiar with Miss Frizzle but it does sound like fun, exciting, and creative, three strong characteristics of Dawn.

She describes how she makes patients accountable, requiring a $50 deposit they can earn back by coming to groups on time and doing their homework (HW). As a group, they also do a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) on the Advantages and Disadvantages of doing the HW, and review the list of really GOOD reasons for NOT doing the HW in the book, with each member ticking off the ones that resonate with their own thinking. She said some of the most popular ones are:

  • I’m afraid of what might happen if I DO change.
  • I believe that others are to blame for my problems, so why should I have to change?
  • I don’t trust Dr. Burns!
  • I’m not convinced the exercises in this book will really make a difference in my life.

Dawn described several of the “steps” in the group, including the exciting steps on
“You FEEL the Way You THINK” and “You can CHANGE the Way You Feel.”

She said that members found the lesson on healthy vs unhealthy negative feelings illuminating, and the lesson on the Acceptance Paradox was mind-blowing.

The group trains participants in 15 techniques for crushing distorted thoughts, and some of the popular ones include the CBA, Examine the Evidence, the Double Standard Technique, and the Acceptance Paradox.

She described the feared and famous “Mirror Method,” where patients pass a mirror around the group and each one has to look into it and verbalize his or her negative thoughts, like “I’m a failure,” and “I’m the worst mother on the planet.” Then they have to talk back to that thought, using the second person, “You,” as they talk to themselves in a more realistic and compassionate manner.

She also does the T = Testing at each group session, tracking changes in depression, anxiety, and relationship satisfaction and sees significant reductions in scores on the mood tests by the end of the program. She also gives each participant a “report card” at the end of the program so they can see how much they progressed. Participants FEEL so much better!

At the start of the group she tells participants, “If you attend the groups and do the exercises in the book, you WILL change. This material can’t not have a huge impact on your life.”

She said that at the end of the ten sessions, the participants see that this really did happen. She emphasized that she greatly prefers treating people in groups, but calls them “classes” due to the stigma of “group therapy.” I, David, strongly agree, as this has been my experience as well. With a skillful group leader, and great material, magic becomes possible!

Dawn has done much more, creating follow-up groups for interested patients, as well as a new program based on my new book, Feeling Great (link), so we hope to have an encore appearance from this bubbly and brilliant woman!

Rhonda and David