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Sep 5, 2022

Swimming in the River of Love

Rhonda starts today’s podcast with a beautiful podcast endorsement from a fan named Vicky, from Australia, who was thrilled with the two recent live therapy podcasts with Nazli (podcasts 301 and 302). She wrote that she felt so lucky to hear someone with the exact same negative thoughts, and same feelings of depression and anxiety, that she’s had since she was 10 years old. I have often said that when therapists have the courage to do their personal work in public, you not only heal yourself and learn cool techniques first-hand and experientially, but you also heal many others who are touched and inspired by you.

Thanks to all of our fans for your frequent loving comments and cool questions for future Ask David podcasts.

We then give a little promotion for several upcoming group events, involving:

  • May 2, 2022. Dr. Jill Levitt and I will be teaching an exciting, full-day workshop on “Smashing Social Anxiety: Shame-Attacking and Beyond.” It will be open to shrinks and the general public alike. The focus will be on learning to treat social anxiety, including your own! For registration and more information, please go to

  • September 13, 2022: Drs. Brandon Vance and Heather Clague start two new Feeling Great Book Clubs. For registration and more information, please go to

  • September 14, 2022. Drs. Heather Clague and Brandon Vance will start their weekly “Deep Practice” group for training in the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. This type of practice is absolutely needed if you want to use these fantastic techniques to greatly boost your clinical effectiveness or enhance your relationships with the people you care about. For registration and more information, please go to

  • Date (to be announced). Zeina Halim soon begins the first-ever book club for When Panic Attacks. This terrific group could be helpful if you’ve ever struggled with phobias, social anxiety, chronic worrying, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD, and more. For registration and more information, please go to

  • Date (to be announced). Zeina Halim will collaborate with our Feeling Good App development team in an experiment to test a month’s use of the Feeling Good app with or without a weekly practice group to supplement your work with the app. This exciting project is currently in the planning stage, but if you think you might be interested, please contact Zeina at Zeina Halim <>so she can contact you once we’re ready to start.

As an aside, the app will be free since we’re still involved in beta tests, but the weekly practice groups will involve an additional charge.

Today we feature a love story involving Dr. Cai Chen, a young psychiatrist who did his residency training in Texas and now has moved to California to be with his love, Chan Mary Soeur, RN, BSN. Both have been members of my TEAM-CBT training group at Stanford. Cai practices at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California, and Chan Mary who is pursuing a master’s degree as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Cai explains that he’d felt socially anxious and lonely for used, and used the tools in my book, Intimate Connections, when he got tired of dating sites. One crucial thing he learned is that you have to stop “chasing” if you want to find love. Then he met Chan Mary in one of the breakout groups in our weekly training group.

Chan Mary said,

“I also used to struggle with social anxiety. Even now, on this podcast I have thoughts that I won’t be as impressive as Cai. Cai is much better at expressing himself and being vulnerable in front of others.

“I’ve been on a personal journey to get over my intense social anxiety. I’ve always held back in groups, and have never been the first one to reach out.

“After listening to the Feeling Good Podcast’s episode on how to overcome social anxiety, I decided to challenge my fears and reach out to Cai. I contacted him and told him I really admired the courage he was showing in his transparency about his feelings, and in his courage to challenge his fears with the many Interpersonal Exposure Techniques we were learning about in our training.

“I also decided to try another technique, Flirting Training. I told him that I thought everything he was doing was inspirational, and that I felt close to him.”

Rhonda asked about the importance of taking risks if you struggle with social anxiety. Chan Mary explained it like this:

“I was extremely anxious about reaching out to someone I didn’t know. For me, a simple thank you email and introducing myself was anxiety provoking because I had never done that before. I was also worried about asking too many questions because I didn’t want to come off as intrusive or even bothersome.”

Chan Mary continues:

“After conquering my initial fears of reaching out, I went even further, I invited him to join me for a week in Hawaii as our first date in 2021 for my vacation. I usually went on a medical mission to Cambodia, but couldn’t because of the pandemic. So I did the boldest thing ever—I met him in person in Hawaii!”

Cai describes the fears he had:

“I was scared. I thought, ;what if we get too close and our relationship falls apart.’ In fact, after accepting the invite, I called and told her that I’d changed my mind. She got angry, and I realized I had mixed feelings, so I turned to David’s Decision-Making Tool.

(You can get it for free at the free chapter link on the bottom of the home page of David’s website.)

“This tool helped me see why I was stuck, so I called Chan Marie back and asked for her forgiveness. I’d been hiding my feelings, so I told her I really liked her and had been afraid of ruining a great relationship.”

Chan Mary said: “I was scared, too. But I told myself to trust myself, and that it felt safe to trust him, too.”

The rest, as they say, is history. The date was terrific, and after some initial hesitation, Cai decided to move from Texas to California to be with “the love of my life!”

Was it all roses from then on?

All relationships, I’m pretty sure, have difficulties, and Cai and Chan Mary explained that they both have trouble expressing negative feelings. Cai explained it like this:

“I always try to be nice, so I push my negative feelings down, and automatically sweep them under the rug. Chan Mary helps me with this. She pushes me to tell her what I’m upset about. And although it’s frightening at first, once we express our negative feelings they kid of fizzle out. Chan Mary has become an expert in David’s five Secrets of Effective Communication, and that has helped tremendously.”

Chan Mary explained her difficulties with negative feelings like this:

“The Hidden Emotion Technique has been helpful for me when I start to feel anxious or upset. I have to reflect and ask myself, ‘What’s the deeper issue here?’ Often, I don’t even know what I’m upset about!”

Chan Mary added:

“Thank you to David and Rhonda and everyone who made the Feeling Good Podcast possible. I’m just like many of your listeners, and this podcast has been life-changing. The techniques, you shared on the podcast have transformed my life! If I did not take the steps to conquer my social anxiety, Cai and I probably would not be here today.“

Cai and Chan Mary are delightful, and their obvious love is an inspiration in this time of increasing violence in the world and such intense political divide and hatred here at home.

I asked where their relationship is heading and Chan Mary hinted that Rhonda and David might be getting invitations to a wedding one day soon!

Cai and Chan Mary are two of my favorite people in the whole world. It’s a privilege and a blessing to know them and share a little of their lives.

This is Rhonda….

"I love Cai and Chan Mary, too. I was in the Tuesday Stanford TEAM Training group for years with Chan Mary, and feel really close to her for lots of shared experiences. I am lucky enough to see Cai every Wednesday in our International TEAM Therapy Training Group, and I always look forward to reading the wise comments he writes on the TEAM certified listserve.

Next week, we’ll look at the other side of the coin, as Professor Mark Noble leads a discussion on the recent rise in loneliness, which is often associated with social anxiety.


Cai, Chan Mary, Rhonda, and David