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Sep 7, 2020

Ask David

What do you do when someone won’t stop asking questions?

Hello David,

It’s been a while since I’ve emailed you, but that’s because I’ve been doing really well thanks to you! I started a new job 3-1/2 months ago, & this woman seemed to take to me right from the start. It was nice at first having someone to talk to etc, but it has quickly turned bad. She sits in the cubicle right next to me. All day long she talks to me asking me questions. What did I do after work? Who was I with? How long was I gone? What did my husband do? And on & on. It feels like she’s interrogating me because the questions never stop. I’m trying to get more vague with my answers hoping if will deter the conversation, but no luck. It really becomes distracting at times & then other times it just feels like she’s being nosy & freaks me out. I just want her to leave me alone! I think this would be a good opportunity to use the 5 secrets of effective communication, but I’m struggling. Could you help?

Thank you,


Hi Brittany,

Will send to Rhonda for an Ask David. But a simple approach would be to tell her that you admire her and appreciate her interest, but that you sometimes find the questions distracting from doing your work. Perhaps you could sit down with her for lunch or something, and then use your five secrets skills.

Using the relationship journal, you could write down one thing she said to you, and exactly what you said next. Then we can see exactly what you are doing that is fueling the problem! I've attached one, and you could send it to us after you have completed Steps 1 and 2.


Thank you for the reply! It really made my day. I attached the relationship journal. It was actually more helpful than I thought it would be for this situation. Once I was able to think of a good example, I realized that maybe my lack of inquiry or showing interest in her is causing her to ask me all these questions. Although if I ask her more about herself, I don't know if it would result in her talking even more? Hard to say.

Thanks for your help, and I appreciate your thoughts on my relationship journal.



Wanted to give you an update on how it went using the five secrets. First thing Monday morning my coworker started right up with the questions. I used the five secrets & said something similar to what I wrote to you. She apologized for bothering me, & things have been great all week! She actually brought in headphones & has been listening to music now. And there’s no tension or animosity between us which was my fear initially. We still chat here & there & are friendly. Thanks again!


How can a pastoral counselor get training in TEAM-CBT?

Dear Doctor David,

I am a pastor from South Africa, married to an Australian, living in Dubai :)

I was struggling with mild depression & came across your book "feeling good" and read it & applied all your techniques & it has been life-changing - THANK YOU!

What surprised me most was the simplicity and effectiveness of the exercises. I believe that much of what you teach is life skills everyone should have! I wish I was taught these things when I was younger!

Over the years I have helped people, from all walks of life - inmates, students, business people, etc., but primarily from a spiritual perspective. I believe I can be more effective and help so many more out there if I learn how to apply your exercises to others.

I would love to train in TEAM and learn how to apply these techniques with the people I minister to, but I am not a psychologist or certified as per your requirements.

I realize practice and critical feedback is paramount in order to get really good in TEAM.

Please advise me on an alternative route.

Any help with this regard would be highly appreciated!

Thanking you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Gareth Noble

Hi Pastor Noble,

Sure there is a certification program at the Feeling Good Institute. I believe pastoral counselors would be very welcome. They offer many online introductory classes in TEAM-CBT. Check our my free weekly Feeling Good Podcasts, too. I will include your question, with your permission, on an Ask David Podcast. I also offer a free depression class on my website, and about to post an anxiety class too, also free. There are tons of resources, almost all free, on my website, You can check out my website page from time to time for online workshops.

Dr. Angela Krumm is head of the certification program at FGI, which is

Angela and I are both PKs (Pastor’s kids)!

All the best,


Is love an adult human need?

Rhonda said that people in the TEAM certification listserve thought they heard David say that love is not an adult human need. Is this true?

David comments on hearing Dr. Beck say that decades ago, in one of Dr. Beck’s weekly training groups at U. Penn, and what he (David) discovered.

What’s the best training program to learn TEAM-CBT?

David and Rhonda,

I hope this note finds you well. I'm writing for a few reasons. The first is to thank you for your podcast and related resources. I found your podcast and started listening at the beginning of COVID-19 (mid-March) because I was feeling acute anxiety. The T.E.A.M. approach and your teaching are such an amazing gifts. The positive reframing in particular is truly life changing and revolutionary for me. Considering what my negative thoughts show about me that's positive and awesome and then finding the cognitive distortions has provided me such relief.

I have been so excited about T.E.A.M. therapy that I often discuss it with my husband, friends, and family. I really loved David's comment in the most recent podcast that good therapy isn't evangelizing; rather it's letting the patient define problems and goals within his/her own values. I also liked your comment that doing therapy well is like an artform or a dance- that's such a beautiful sentiment, and I've been able to see the conversational "dances" you perform in the amazing, transformative, empathic live therapy sessions with Michael, Rhonda, Sarah, and others. These sessions have often brought tears to my eyes.

This brings me to my second reason for writing. Listening to the podcast has been transformative for me in another way- it's made me seriously consider becoming a therapist myself. I have considered this possibility over the years, but now that I'm familiar with the T.E.A.M therapy approach and can see how helpful it is, I'm excited to explore this path more. I have a B.A. in psychology so I would need additional education- do you have suggestions for masters programs that you think would provide good alignment with the T.E.A.M. approach? I live in Charlottesville, Virginia and have two young children, so a local or online program may be the best bet for me. Thanks in advance for any ideas you may have.

All the best to you,

Molly Hurt

Thanks, Molly.

We can read your wonderful email on an Ask David if that is okay with you, but here is the quick answer. In graduate school, you don’t typically learn much that is useful. It is more getting a license to practice, then you learn from mentors, workshops, etc. The has training and certification programs, including 12 week beginner classes in TEAM that are excellent. The whole area of coaching is emerging now too, and the certification is rather informal. If you get a degree like a masters degree in social work online, and then get licensed to do therapy, that is one approach, but there are many ways to get certified—counselor, psy d degree, marriage and family therapy, and so forth.

So in short, I would, personally, find some way—the easiest way—to get certified so you can legally do therapy. But concentrate on learning TEAM as the tool to use.

In California, as an aside, anyone can call themselves a “psychotherapist,” but you need the degree and license to call yourself a “psychologist.”

Good luck, and thanks again! david

Why are should statements considered distortions?

Thanks for your quick and helpful reply. It's useful to have a better sense for how to prioritize my time and training. I'm excited to continue to explore T.E.A.M. therapy! And you are welcome to read my email on the podcast, thanks for asking.

If I may, one other question for you: how do you recommend someone defeat "should" statements when his/her behaviors aren't healthy or beneficial? For example, "I should not overeat when anxious" or "I should not procrastinate" or "I should not be impatient with my daughter." I understand that saying "should" in these cases adds pressure and can lead to shame, but I don't see the distortion in these statements. In other words, these statements may not be helpful to a patient, but how are they not 100% true? I would appreciate any additional guidance you can offer on what I find to be the most difficult cognitive distortion!

Thanks again to both of you for generously sharing your loving and kind approach to helping people deal with their problems and feel better. The impact you're having is profound. I love listening to you empathize with patients- it makes me strive for building an even more loving connection with my husband and daughters, as well as others in my life.



Hi Molly,

You may want to listen to podcast #205 pm Should Statements. You can also find a lot in my books, like Feeling Good, which you may have already read. There is also a chapter on how to crush should statements in my new book, Feeling Great, which will be released on September 15, 2020.

Shoulds are distortions because they are not valid. It is not true that you “should not overeat when anxious.” You SHOULD overeat when anxious because it is very appealing, tasty, and makes you feel better.

A correct statement would be, “It would be preferable if I did not overeat when anxious.” This statement removes the shame and pressure, while honoring your goal. There are three correct uses of should: the moral should (thou shalt not kill), the legal should (you should not drive 90 miles an hour because you’ll get a ticket) and the laws of the universe should: this pen should fall to the floor if I drop it because of the force of gravity.

But overeating when anxious is not immoral or illegal, and it does not violate the laws of the universe. So it is not a valid use of the word. There is a podcast on this, I think, and you can search for it on my website use the search function.

Rhonda and David