Today's featured image is Sean Williams, co-founder of the BAD
Rhonda starts today’s podcast with a terrific endorsement from
Steve, from England. He really liked Feeling Great, and
said he benefited from the personal work with Dr. Mark Taslimi that
we published as the first live therapy on the Feeling Good Podcasts
podcasts 29-25 and 141.)
Steve wrote that the live work, and the teaching points that
Dr. Jill Levitt and I made during the podcasts to explain our
strategies, is the best learning by far. Rhonda and I strongly
agree, and I feel fortunate to have been able to publish many
additional live TEAM-CBT sessions since that time. It is my hope
that some day these live therapy podcasts will be used in teaching
graduate psychology classes so that future practitioners can pick
up where we left off and benefit from the rapid treatment
techniques we’ve developed.
Today we interview Amber Warner, LCSW, Sean Williams, LCSW and
Chelsea Dorcich, MFT. Amber is a Level 3 certified TEAM therapist,
living and working in Lake County, where she provides mental health
care in a rural community. She has a private practice that includes
a virtual practice for anyone in the State of California. Amber has
been a member of our Tuesday TEAM-CBT group for the past year.
Chelsea is also a Level 3 Certified TEAM therapist with a
private practice for anyone in the State of California. Both
Chelsea and Amber work at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain
Sean is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and also Level 3
TEAM-CBT therapist and co-founder of the TEAM CBT Clinicians of
BAD, for Black African Descendants, along with Amber and Chelsea.
He is a long-time and beloved member of the Tuesday training group
at Stanford. He currently resides in Colorado and works for the
Ohio State University where he works with active duty and retired
soldiers regarding their PTSD suicidal ideation and trauma. He
treats patients and also supports the Ohio State University’s
research. He also has a part-time private practice for people who
live in Indiana.
Amber got our podcast going by saying:
“My introduction to TEAM-CBT was in
2017, while at a Sunday workshop about 1 1/2 years ago. I’d been
struggling with grief after accidently finding out my employer had
hired others at a higher salary, so I started a Daily Mood Log and
did a downward arrow (this is an uncovering technique) using one of
my negative thought. I discovered that my Self-Defeating Belief
(SDB) was not included in David’s list of 23 common SDBs.
“I felt like all the weight of the
world was on my shoulders because my employer had hired white
people with less experience at higher salaries. I asked myself what
I was going to do.
“Do I care to stand up for myself?
It felt like a heavy dilemma. I decided to face my fear and talk it
over with my employer. It took some time, but things eventually
turned out in my favor.”
Way to go, Amber!
Amber mentioned that Philip Lolonis, LCSW, a member
of our TEAM-CBT community, urged us to create and teach an
introductory TEAM-CBT course for African-American clinicians in
2021. Amber reached out to Sean and Chelsea and asked if they'd be
interested in creating a “Clinicians of Color” group on Facebook.
And that got the ball rolling.
Rhonda asked, “What kinds of challenges have you faced?”
Sean said that one barrier was the whole process of getting
licensed. It requires a lot of time and money, nearly always
meaning large loans and years of training. One goal of their group
is to assist interested people through from initial training
through the licensing clinicians, as well as introduce TEAM therapy
to the larger therapeutic community.
There are very few Black mental health professionals within the
TEAM community. Amber explained that one of their goals is to
provide support and encouragement to young Black men and women who
might want to enter the counseling profession by attending medical
school, or a doctoral or graduate school in counseling or
psychology, or obtaining a certified coaching diploma.
Amber also stated that TEAM-CBT has made a powerful impact on
her, Chelsea and Sean, so they formed an affinity group, TEAM CBT
Clinicians of B.A.D. Their primary goal is to support and encourage
clinicians of color to learn and practice TEAM-CBT and explore
culturally responsive methods to enhance the therapeutic alliance
and improve treatment outcomes.
Sean explained that he was introduced to TEAM and David’s work
around the year 2000. He was looking at books in the self-help
section of a Barnes and Nobles bookstore, but most of them were too
expensive. He said,
“Most of them were too expensive,
but then I saw Feeling Good lying on a table, and it was
only $8.95, so I purchased it and read about the list of cognitive
distortions that David had created. That book changed my world view
and changed me as a clinician. I realized that I really wanted to
disseminate this information to clinicians of color.”
Sean explains why he resonated with Feeling Good:
“Many of the cognitive theoretical
principles were extremely empowering to me. In “Feeling
Good” there was a diagram of a man where it demonstrated how
human beings process their experiences through thoughts, beliefs
The whole idea of my thoughts
impacting my emotions and behaviors was mind blowing to me and
still is. It made me recollect on all my past struggles such as
relationship break ups, job losses, public speaking anxiety, and so
forth, and my reactions towards those situations unbeknownst to me
at the time were primarily based on my thoughts about those
I believe that it’s important that
all people have access to these powerful therapeutic interventions
regardless of race, ethnicity or culture. The reason why it’s
important to disseminate these powerful tools to people of color is
because people of color are reporting high rates of psychological
distress but are less likely to get treated for it.
“According to webmd.com ‘…African Americans are more
likely to report feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and
worthlessness than are adult whites. Still, in 2018, 18.6% of white
Americans received mental health services, compared to less than 9%
of African Americans.’
“I think TEAM-CBT can even help
alleviate suffering related to racial stress. Although racism is a
non-distorted reality the concepts in “Feeling Good” and the whole
TEAM framework can orient a person to adopt the healthiest possible
perspective when moving through those realities.”
Chelsea said she learned about TEAM-CBT when she moved to the
Bay Area in 2017. She says, "I also found that TEAM was a roadmap
and a blessing. I could really connect. This is an amazing
framework for everybody!”
We also discussed one pitfall that some clinicians fall into.
The idea that our thoughts, and not events, create all of our
feelings can be liberating. But it can also be used to invalidate
genuine, healthy anger. Racial bias and cruelty are real.
"They are NOT cognitive distortions," she says. "Racial bias is
very real. But TEAM-CBT can free us from the inner prison of
depression and anxiety and self-doubt that results from distorted
perceptions. Of course, sometimes perceptions are totally
valid, and sometimes it’s time to fight and stand up for what’s
David added that
"We had to do a lot of fighting and
protesting in the 1970s, when the Viet Nam war was waging, and the
forces of darkness were powerful and destructive. Now, it seems, we
have many more battles to fight, and we are lucky to have crusaders
like Chelsea, Amber, and Sean.
"Thank you for what you are
Thank you all for listening today.
Chelsea, Amber, Sean, Rhonda, and David
Following the show, Sean kindly emailed me with some
information addressing some of my questions about black people and
the mental health system in the United States. He wrote:
Although I was super anxious, I really enjoyed doing the
podcast with you two. I used the “Dare to be Average” principles in
Feeling Good to help me relax and it worked! Here’s a few
additional notes about black people and our mental health system. I
hope it helps!
By Sean Williams,
Why is it important to disseminate TEAM-CBT to people of
Data from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that
only 2 percent of the estimated 41,000 psychiatrists in the U.S.
are Black, and just 4 percent of psychologists are Black. On
college campuses, close to 61 percent of counseling center staff
are White, and 13 percent are Black, according to a 2020
Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors
he shortage of psychiatrists and counselors of color has severe
implications for all Black individuals needing treatment. A 2019
survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA) found nearly 5 million, or 16 percent, of
Black Americans reported having a mental illness. However, only one
in three Black adults who needs mental health care receives
Because of the scarcity of mental health professionals of
color, it can be difficult for Black Americans to find a
practitioner with whom they feel comfortable enough to share any
race-related trauma. One 2016 study in the Journal of Black
Psychology found that African American therapists and their
patients often had relationships marked by a “distinct sense of
solidarity … as evidenced by having a better understanding of the
context of Black clients’ lives.
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!