In the next two podcasts, you will hear the live therapy
session that Dr. Jill Levitt and I did with Nazli, a young woman
from Turkey, at our recent “David Burns Live” workshop on May 22,
2022. Nazli has been struggling with intense performance anxiety
and generalized anxiety, and generously who volunteered to be a
“patient.” Jill and I are very grateful for Nazli’s courage in
sharing herself so courageously with all of you, and hope you enjoy
the session and learn from it.
Although the facts of your life are probably quite different
from Nazli’s, you may be able to identify with the almost universal
theme of feeling like you are not “good enough.” The ultimate
antidote to this type of suffering is simple, but so basic that you
may not “see it” at first, especially when it comes to your own
negative thoughts and feelings.
Although we all have many flaws and shortcomings, our
inadequacies are rarely or never the cause of our emotional
distress. Our emotional distress, in terms of anxiety, depression,
inferiority, loneliness, hopelessness, and anger, nearly always
results from our thoughts, and not so much from what’s actually
happening in our lives.
In addition, the thoughts that trigger those kinds of feelings
are almost never valid. Instead, they are loaded with cognitive
distortions. As you probably know very well, I have often said that
depression and anxiety are the world’s oldest cons.
And here’s the really good news. The very moment you change the
way you THINK, you can change the way you FEEL!
Sounds wonderful. But isn’t it just a little, or a lot, too
good to be true? And can you really trigger real change at
the gut level by changing the way you think?
Let’s find out!
In today’s podcast, you’ll hear the first half of Nazli’s
session, including T = Testing and E = Empathy. Next week, you’ll
hear the exciting conclusion of her session, including the A =
Assessment of Resistance and M = Methods, followed, of course by
the final of T = Testing so we can see if Nazli really changed, and
if so, by how much. We’ll also see and how she rated Jill and David
on Empathy, Helpfulness, and more.
If you’ve followed the Feeling Good Podcasts, you know that
doing live therapy to challenge your own demons is part of
therapist training in TEAM-CBT This experience greatly deepens your
understanding of team and allows you to give this message to your
“I know how you feel because I’ve been there myself. And it
will give me great joy to show you how to CHANGE the way you FEEL,
I think of this personal step as the transition from technician
to healer. But you cannot take this step with credibility if you
haven’t yet done your own “work.”
At the start of the session, Nazli explained that she’s
struggled with anxiety ever since she was a child, and that’s what
triggered her interest in a career as a clinical psychologist. In
my experience, this is true of many if not most mental health
professionals. Although the general public often have the
impression that shrinks have it all together, nothing could be
further from the truth. Most went into the field hoping to find a
solution to their own suffering, and a great many—probably nearly
all—are still searching and hoping to find a their “cure.”
After completing her master’s degree in counseling 10 years
ago, Nazli got a job at a counseling center, and in spite of the
fact that she received consistently good feedback, she quit after 2
and 1/2 years and took a job in administration. This was because of
the intense anxiety she experienced during sessions, resulting from
the constant and relentless bombardment with negative thoughts that
popped into her mind when treating patients.
However, she still yearned to do clinical work, so she decide
to go back to clinical work several years ago and has been doing
therapy for patients being treated for cancer. But the negative
thoughts and feelings still continued to haunt her.
Nazli explained that she has no fear of public speaking, but
said that when she’s working with a client, she constantly
criticizes herself for fear of making a mistake and tell
I’m not doing a good job.
This job is not for me.
Should I just quit?
My friends are at a better place in life.
I’m 38 years old and missing out on a lot.
Why am I like this?
Recently, she went to visit one of her patients, a young woman
struggling with lung cancer; but when Nazli entered the room, her
patient said: “I don’t want to talk to you!”
Nazli said, “I was devastated and felt like crying.”
When you review Nazli’s Brief Mood Survey (BMS) at the
start of the session, you’ll see that the only feeling that was
elevated was anxiety, and that was minimal. However, her score on
the Happiness Test was only 8 out of 20, indicating that she didn’t
feel very worthwhile, happy, hopeful, motivated, or satisfied with
her life. This meant that her negative thoughts and feelings when
she was seeing patients were making a huge impact on her capacity
for happiness and self-esteem.
Her minimal scores on the depression, anxiety, and anger scales
on the BMS also reflect the fluctuating nature of anxiety and other
feelings for many people. For example, you may have little or no
anxiety most of the time, and when you’re having a session with
your shrink you may not feel especially anxious, either. But when
you encounter the situation that triggers your anxiety, the
feelings suddenly spike tremendously, along with a host of other
negative feelings, and then the emotional discomfort can be
End of Part 1 of the Nazli Session: T = Testing and E =
Empathy. Next week, you will hear Part 2: A = Assessment of
Resistance and M = Methods.
Rhonda, Jill, Nazli, and David
About the Podcast
This podcast features David D. Burns MD, author of "Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy," describing powerful new techniques to overcome depression and anxiety and develop greater joy and self-esteem. For therapists and the general public alike!