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Apr 15, 2024

392 The Empty Nest Cure

Featuring Jill Levitt, PhD



The Magical Annual Intensive 

Returns this Summer 

at the South San Francisco Conference Center

August 9 -13, 2024

You can Review the Exciting Details Below

Or click this link!


Today we are proud to feature our beloved Dr. Jill Levitt. Jill is the Director of Clinical Training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View, California, and co-leader of my Tuesday evening psychotherapy training group at Stanford. She is a dear friend, and one of the world’s top psychotherapists and psychotherapy teachers.

Today, Jill joins us to discuss the so-called “Empty Nest” syndrome. According to Wikipedia, this is the “feeling of grief and loneliness parents may feel when their children move out of the family home, such as to live on their own or to pursue a higher education.“

Jill emailed Rhonda and me to explain why she thought a podcast on this topic might be of some value. She wrote,

Recently, I was working with two different women around the same age who were having similar feelings of guilt and shame about the choices they made around parenting versus working.

Jane is a 60 year old high level executive with two boys who was super successful and is now retired. She is telling herself, “

  • I did not do enough for my boys.
  • I should have worked less.
  • I should have spent more time with them.
  • I was selfish, and worked because I enjoyed it.
  • I should have done more for them.
  • I’m a terrible mother.

Stephanie, in contrast, is a 60 year old stay-at-home mom of four adult kids, and now that her last kid has left for college, she is telling herself:

  • I should have had a career.
  • I have done nothing with my life.
  • I am a smart woman so I should have done more.
  • I am inferior compared to other women who have contributed to society in some way.

Jane and Stephanie both struggled with feelings of guilt, shame, sadness and inferiority, and they were both telling themselves that they should have made different choices.

I’m sure your life is very different from their lives, but you may have also looked in to the past and beaten up on yourself for what you should or shouldn’t have done. Or, you may be beating up on yourself right now with shoulds, telling yourself that you should be better, or smarter or more successful or popular than you are.

In fact, according to the late Dr. Albert Ellis, these “Should Statements” are responsible for most of the suffering in the world, and there are several different types, including:

  • Self-Directed Shoulds, like “I shouldn’t be so klutzy and shy in social situations. These self-directed shoulds trigger feelings of depression, anxiety, inadequacy, inferiority, guilt, shame and loneliness, to name just a few.
  • Other-Directed Shoulds, like “So and so shouldn’t be such a jerk!” Or, “You have no right to feel the way you do!” These other-directed shoulds trigger feelings of anger, blame, resentment, irritation, and rage, and can easily escalate into violence, and even war.

I’m sure you can see that both women were struggling with Self-Directed Shoulds. What can you do about these shoulds and the unhappiness they trigger?

Jill explains how both women experienced rapid recovery when she used simple TEAM methods systematically, including empathy and Positive Reframing as well as other basic techniques like the Double Standard Technique and the Externalization of Voices, and more.

I, David, then described a woman he treated who fell into a depression when her two daughters went off to college. And she was perplexed, because she’d always had a super loving relationship with them, just as she’d had with her own mother when she was growing up.

When I explored this with her, a Hidden Emotion suddenly emerged, as you’ll hear on the podcast, and that also led to a complete recovery in just two sessions.

Then Jill had a sudden “eureka” moment and realized that the Hidden emotion phenomenon was also central to the anxiety that one of her two patients was experiencing.

One of the neat things I (David) really like about TEAM is that we don’t treat people with formulas for “disorders” or “syndromes.” These three woman all had the same “Empty Nest Syndrome,” but the causes and the cures for all of them were unique, as you’ll understand when you listen to this podcast.

Our 400th podcast is coming up soon, and we want to thank all of you in advance for your support and encouragement over the past several years, which we all DEEPLY appreciate! We’ll be joined by a number of our podcast stars from the past 100 shows, as well as our beloved founder, Dr. Fabrice Nye!

And we have one VERY special event coming up this summer that might interest you if you’re a shrink. I (David) have done very few workshops over the past five years because of the pandemic as well as the intensive demands of developing our Feeling Great App which will be available soon.

The most fantastic work of the year was always the summer intensive at the South San Francisco Conference Center. Well, guess what! We’re bringing it back this year. The dates will be August DATES, and it will have the same magic it has always had, but with some cool innovations.

  1. It will be Thursday to Sunday noon, 3 ½ days instead of four, but it will include two fantastic evening sessions, so you will get a MASSIVE amount of teaching.
  2. It will be sponsored by the Feeling Good Institute in Mountain View for the first time, Jill and I will teach together, just as we do in the Tuesday group.
  3. Of course, Rhonda will be hosting the event as well!
  4. There will be many expert helpers from the FGI to assist you in the small group exercises throughout, so you will LEARN from actual practice with immediate expert mentoring and feedback.
  5. There will be a live demonstration with an audience volunteer, as in earlier years, plus your chance to do live work in small groups on the evening of the third day. This is always the top rated event during the intensive.
  6. You can attend in person if you move fast (seating will be limited to around 100 or so) or online (for half price or so.) That will give people from around the world the chance to attend without the extra cost and time to come in person. The online people will have leaders guiding you in the same exercises we will do with the in-person group.
  7. You’ll get intensive TEAM training in the high-speed treatment of depression and anxiety, so you can really “get it” all at once and see how all the pieces of this amazing approach fit together.
  8. You’ll also have the chance to do your own personal work and healing, which is arguably the most important dimension of professional training.
  9. There’s a whole lot more but I’m running out of steam.

For more information, click this link!

Here are the details:

High-Speed CBT for Depression and Anxiety—

An Intensive Workshop for Therapists

with Dr. David Burns and Dr. Jill Levitt

Join in person or online!

Dates (3 ½ days)

Thursday, August 8: 8:30am-8:30pm

Friday August 9: 8:30am-4:30pm

Saturday August 10: 8:30am-9:00pm

Sunday, August 11 8:30am-12:00pm PT


South San Francisco Conference Center
(10 minutes from SF Airport)


In Person $895* Early Bird Price (only 100 seats)

Online $495* Early Bird Price

To receive the online price, you must enter
the discount code: OnlineOnly when purchasing

The $100 price increase for live and online starts on 6/3/24

 Rhonda, Jill, and I hope to see you there!

And thanks for listening today!