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May 29, 2023

Live Therapy with Veena:

Part 2 of 3

Last week you heard the first half of the session with Veena, a young woman who was devastated by a medical problem that may make it difficult or impossible to conceive the child she is dreaming of. Today, you will hear the inspiring and dramatic conclusion of her story, along with the feedback comments from the individuals in David and Jill's Tuesday training group who witnessed the live work.

A = Assessment of Resistance

Jill asked if she felt ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work on some aspect of what she’d been telling us, and she was. Jill then asked what she was hoping to get from tonight’s session. If we could offer a “Miracle Cure,” what would that look like?

She said, “I’d feel a lot less guilty and responsible, so I would no longer feel like the problem was my fault. I’d know that I did my best and that I can be okay even if people don’t like me or judge me.

Jill asked the Magic Button question, and she said that she love to see her guilt go all the way to zero, but not her many other negative feelings, like depression, anxiety, inadequacy, self-consciousness, hopelessness, upset, insecurity and self-doubt.

With Positive Reframing in mind, we listed many of the positives in these negative feelings, including:

  • Sadness. This feeling shows that I care for people and want to give them the best. It shows that I also care for my own dreams of having a baby. And it shows how much I love my mother.
  • Anxiety, worry. This is a warning signal, reminding me to be alert and do my best, and do what the doctors require.
  • Guilt. Shows that I’m humble and willing to be accountable and examine what I’ve done and look at my own mistakes.
  • Self-Consciousness. Protects me by making me cautious so I don’t just blurt out everything.
  • Defectiveness. I see my flaws, and allows me to get closer to others, and to feel happy for the success of others.
  • Hopelessness. When I told my husband I felt hopeless, he became SO supportive. Also, I gave myself some space so I could create an action plan.

You can see the goals Veena set for each emotion on her Daily Mood Log if you click HERE.

Veena with her in-laws

M = Methods

During the methods phase of the session, we used a variety of techniques, especially Externalization of Voices with the Acceptance Paradox, Self-Defense, and the CAT (Counterattack Technique.) We did quite a few role-reversals, which is typical, before Veena got to wins that were “huge.” There were lots of tears and laughter, and eventually Veena blew all of her negative thoughts out of the water.

It was inspiring to observe this process, and to be a part of it. You can see her final Daily Mood Log if you click HERE. I think it is fair to say the Veena experienced a kind of enlightenment which was profound.

Final T = Testing

You can see Veena’s end-of-session Brief Mood Survey and Evaluation of Therapy Session if you click HERE. You can also see her final Daily Mood LOG if you click here.

Our work with Veena was some of the most inspiring work that I can recall. It was tremendously mood-uplifting, and took on a spiritual quality. You will have to listen to the session to get a feel for how majestic it was. But in my opinion, Veena did not just recover, but she achieved enlightenment, which including discovering how to love herself and her extended family as well!

The following is an email I sent Veena the next morning:

Hi Veena,

Thanks. You were totally awesome last night, thanks so much for your contribution. I am sure the podcast will reach huge numbers of people and make a big impact on peoples’ lives. I cannot remember a more exciting and loving session. We will see what the groups thinks in the feedback. I did not copy or read the chats during the session, but perhaps you or Jill did. . .

We will invite you to join us on a podcast recording to get some follow-up information from you, as folks will be very interested, for the two-part podcast.

Yes, I think we really were walking on holy ground last night! Thanks so much for making that happen!

I am trying to recall (and will do more of this) the teaching points from last night, and a few seem important to me. They seem awfully basic and simple, but still of towering importance and have to be “seen” to be understood at a deep level.

1. In TEAM, even when a problem is “real,” it is still our thoughts that create our emotions. Our thoughts really DO create all of our feelings.

2. Those thoughts can be subtly distorted in all kinds of ways and seem determined to trick us into believing things that are not true. And even super smart people, like Veena, can be fooled.

3. We are not aiming for improvement, although that is obviously desirable, but a dramatic transformation of the human spirit and outlook.

4. Warmth, tenderness, and compassion—for others and for yourself--are important and powerful.

5. There is a strong mind-body connection, and healing your soul can often help to heal your body.

6. Good therapy can sometimes be much more than just “therapy.” Something almost magical can sometimes happen, and the change can sometimes happen rapidly. However, many people do not like hearing this, and some are even angered by this idea! This is especially true of people who have suffered and struggled for many years without success in changing the way they think and feel.

7. Recovery sometimes requires courage and trust.

Just more babbling from the old guy! Apologies if it sounds ridiculous or “off.” If other teaching points come to mind, please let us know so I can add them to the list! I am betting that Jill and Veena can maybe add to this list! (and edit it as well)

Warmly, david

Below, you will find some excepts from the feedback that the participants provided after the session.

Please describe what you specifically disliked about the training? What could have been improved? Were there some things you disagreed with or did not understand?

 Nothing. It was beautiful.

I wouldn't want to change anything about tonight's experience. It was so moving!

Please describe what you specifically liked about the training? What was the most helpful? Were there some things you learned?

I loved Veena's personal work and besides my admiration and pride of her and the gratefulness to David and Jill for sharing this wonderful work . . . I enjoy the empathy and validation as well as the trust in the process that was so beautifully demonstrated.

Beautiful job by all concerned. Very impressed with Veena and how clearly she "got it" when she used the CAT (Counterattack Technique).

I was very moved by Veena's story and her courage in sharing it with us. I felt as if we were witnessing a kind of history because, in the past, wives who couldn't bear children were often devalued and even rejected.

Veena pushed back against that kind of thinking and instead chose to love herself. By working toward dispelling the distorted thoughts, she affirmed not only herself, but women with similar experiences now and throughout history.

When she affirmed that her mother, mother-in-law, and husband would be empathetic and wouldn't actually reject her, I felt elated, thinking that the world is making progress and becoming a more compassionate place. I was also touched by the following ideas: feeling genuine sadness without distortions; locating the source of pain in distorted self-critical thoughts; painful experiences bringing loved ones closer together.

The safe space that was created, the sensitivity with which the topic was handled and the respect accorded to the client. It’s incredible how the trainers (Dr. Burns & Jill), set aside their ailments, and were with Veena through her journey of anticipatory loss, and her fears and apprehensions, along with her inner battle of dealing with deeply entrenched social conditionings, that are hard to face and ward off. I loved the session.

Enjoyed watching the whole team model unfold.

I’m so grateful to Veena for sharing this previous part of her life with all of us. It was a huge honor. I am constantly surprised by Dr Burns’ and Jill’s mastery of TEAM and their deep empathy skills. This was moving and exhilarating…all at once.

Observing two great therapists in action.

I liked how Jill and David would make notes to the class about what step they were going on to next. Veena was so amazing and brave to share her experience. As a 23 year old woman with fears of fertility issues myself due to genetics, I found the experience extremely profound and impactful on a personal level. It was awesome to go from the NEWBIE group to this session whereby a lot of the skills we were learning individually were incorporated sequentially into the session. Thank you to everyone!!

I liked seeing david and jill go through the entire team model. I liked the pointing out of the Emotional Reasoning distortion and even using the straight forward technique.


I really liked seeing an entire session completed in one sitting.

A very beautiful night. I really felt for Veena and what she is going through, and it was great to see her recovery. David and Jill were empathic and so knowledgeable.

The humor in dark moments. the tears from time to time

It was exciting to see how as Veena shed the self-blame, simultaneously she was able to see the people in her life as the caring, kind people she knows them to be--and no longer to feel afraid that they would reject her. Accepting herself allowed her to see others as accepting, and not critical.

What training could be better than watching David and Jill tag TEAM thru the model! Thanks to Veena's willingness to be vulnerable and her bravery doing this personal work and inviting us all into her world and her pain. It felt like we were all a web of love and support surrounding her and a privilege to get to know her. It was extraordinarily rich and illuminating.

I loved everything: the incredible empathy Jill and David demonstrated and how things were turned around for Veena. I was amazed that this was accomplished in such a short period of time; I always am when it comes to live work! I also loved knowing Veena more and seeing how wonderful of a person she is; I have so much admiration for her!!!

Incredible empathy and 5 secrets from both Jill & David! So much warmth and love from the group. Seamless incorporation of the steps & methods.

Please describe what you learned in today’s group15 responses

DML at it's best!!!!

TEAM-CBT, done by skillful therapists, with open and vulnerable client, can be such a gift!

I learned again how to go through the entire team-CBT process of crushing negative thoughts and helping clients to feel better.

There were so many moments of subtle shifts by Jill. Each one of them were penny drop moments for me. . . Thank you both.

That people have a lot of beautiful qualities.

I felt I learnt anew the power of empathy and the importance of asking our clients specifically what caused the change.

Thank you so much Veena. I got some therapy by proxy tonight. I felt myself take a kind of journey with you from fearful for you, and judgmental (of your aunties!) to warm and open and loving - by witnessing your transformation.

A better understanding and appreciation of the entire team model and using that for a real life situation.

More of the artfulness and symphony of the steps being followed with empathy being woven again and again throughout and bringing out the birth of what is really true about the self, mother, mother-in-law, and husband rather than the assumptions and self-deprecation.

On how to get from T to M with E and A in the middle!

I loved David's insight that this is what it means to be in a loving relationship--to hurt at times.

So wonderful to get to watch Jill move through TEAM in her warm, empathic, brilliantly thoughtful way, with David interweaving his work of genius!!! So grateful to be part of this incredible community! Thanks so much!

The importance of Thought Empathy and flexibility with using different techniques, as I tend to be quite rigid. For example, I love how David went right into EOV which I believe would work wonderfully with someone who knows TEAM well. It definitely did work for Veena.

So very helpful to see TEAM in action in its entirety by the masters of TEAM CBT!

Thank you for listening today!

Veena, Rhonda, Jill, and David