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Mar 13, 2023

Mariusz and his wife, Aleksandra, who is also a psychiatrist.

Personal Work with Mariusz, Part 1

Mariusz and his wondaful family.

In today’s episode, Rhonda and I do live TEAM-CBT with Psychiatrist Mariusz Wirga, MD, who has struggled with perfectionism his entire life. Our training philosophy for TEAM-CBT involves doing your own personal work for a variety of reasons, including:

1. When you sit in the patient’s seat, you develop a radically different perception of the value of the various components of TEAM, including T = Testing, E = Empathy, A = Assessment of Resistance, and M = Methods.

2. When you experience your own recovery, or “enlightenment,” you have a crystal clear vision of what’s actually involved in rapid, effective treatment.

3. You will be able to tell your patients, “I understand how you feel because I’ve been there myself, and it will be my pleasure to show you the path out of the woods.” This message makes a highly beneficial impact on most patients.

Bio sketch, by Rhonda

Among his many other accomplishments, Mariusz organized the highly successful first world congress for TEAM-CBT in Warsaw, Poland in 2022. He is planning a second four-day TEAM-CBT intensive in Warsaw from March 30 to April 2, 2023. If you are interested in attending, you can learn more at or Mariusz says, "

"For the first time ever we will teach a parallel track for business and corporate applications of TEAM CBT at the 4-Day Warsaw Intensive ( & It will be taught by our singular Dr. Leigh Harrington, with Polish psychologist and TEAM CBT therapist Patrycja Sawicka-Sikora. In 2023, there will also be major TEAM-CBT conferences in Bristol, UK (August 14-17, 2023, ) and Mexico City (November 6-9, 2023, )"

In today's podcast we will listen to the Testing and Empathy portions of his session. Next week, you will hear the Assessment of Resistance and Methods and exciting conclusion of his session.

T = Testing

We began by reviewing Mariusz’s scores on the pre-session Brief Mood Survey, which you can review.

We will, of course, ask him to take this test at the end of the session, so we can see how effective or ineffective we were in helping him change the way he’s thinking and feeling.

Mariusz's beloved cat, Orangina, played a featured role in his session with Rhonda and David!

E = Empathy

We discussed his anxiety which had spiked in apprehension of today’s live session. He had several negative thoughts that we elicited with a brief Downward Arrow Technique. The percents indicate how strongly he believed each one.

  • I will be talking about private issues, and people will think less of me. 70%

  • Then people will be less likely to want to see me for therapy. 50%

  • My patients might be disappointed in me. 50%

  • This could affect me financially, and I won’t be able to pay the bills, and my daughter’s wedding is coming up. 50% (Mariusz, my estimate on % belief.)

  • If that happens, my wife and kids will turn against me. (Need % belief that you had at the time, Mariusz.)

My also reviewed the Daily Mood Log that Mariusz prepared prior to today’s session. Feel free to review it.

As you can see, he woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that he’d forgotten to send a form he promised to send to a patient whom he’d seen two days earlier. You can also see that his negative feelings were very elevated, ranging from 60% to 85% for loneliness, embarrassment, sadness, inadequacy, frustration and anger,  to 100% for guilt, shame, and anxiety.

If you review his DML, you will also see that he’d recorded 10 self-critical thoughts, and many of them were Should and Shouldn’t Statements. For example, “I should have sent her the homework. I shouldn’t have made such a basic therapy error.”

He also identified the many distortions in each thought. All-or-Nothing Thinking, which is the mother of perfectionism, was present in most of them. Other common distortions included Should Statements, Overgeneralization, Magnification, and Self-Blame, to name just a few.

Mariusz’s belief in all of his negative thoughts was high. You may recall the two requirements for feeling upset:

1. Your mind has to be filled with negative thoughts.

2. You have to believe those thoughts.

Mariusz also described his extremely busy and demanding schedule, including the groups he runs in the hospital for cancer patients, his clinical practice, research, teaching, organizing large international TEAM-CBT conferences, and more. His hectic schedule means he always has to be moving fast, so mistakes and slip ups are fairly common. That’s when he beats up o himself, gets anxious, and has trouble sleeping, which compounds everything. He also beats up on himself and feels guilty for falling behind in some of his commitments.

Rhonda and I empathized, using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication, and then Rhonda asked him to grade our empathy. He gave us an A+.

Orangina at her favorite scratching post, the one that Mariusz got for her, with her tail straight in the air to show pride and love for Mariusz!

This ends Part 1 of the work with Mariusz. Next week, you'll hear the exciting conclusion of his session.


Rhonda, Mariusz, and David