Goal-oriented. Short-term. Intensive. Compassionate. Collaborative.
I practice an innovative type of counseling developed by David D. Burns, MD* known as T.E.A.M. therapy, which evolved primarily from traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), along with other influences. The premise of CBT is that how we think informs how we feel, and when we change the way we think, we change the way we feel. This then allows us to behave in more effective and productive ways, bringing us more of what we want in life. There are many ways to discover and shift our underlying beliefs, and the process can often be surprisingly and tremendously freeing. That premise underlies much of T.E.A.M.
T.E.A.M. is an abbreviation of Testing, Empathy, Agenda-Setting and Methods. The acronym is apt since we work as allies and collaborators to bring about change. This powerful approach has been demonstrated to be clinically effective for a wide range of mood, habit and relationship problems. Indeed, in his practice Dr. Burns has repeatedly treated patients who’ve suffered for decades with intense depression or anxiety and yet achieve full and lasting recovery in 6-10 sessions. Of course everyone is different, but my aim is the same: rapid, long-term relief for you. My approach is goal-oriented, short-term, intensive, compassionate and collaborative. Below is an overview of the components of T.E.A.M. that illustrates why each is important.
T=Testing. This sets our approach apart from virtually every other form of therapy. You fill out a simple, reliably proven survey before and after each session, which provides both a snapshot of your mood in the moment as well as an assessment of the impact of the therapy session. Collectively, these forms allow us to monitor your progress toward your goals over time. Additionally, after every session, you evaluate my empathy, understanding and skill in helping you, as well as what you liked most and least about the session. While this paperwork only takes a minute or two of your time, it keeps me accountable to you and your goals, gives us both a clear picture of how strong our alliance is, and allows us to get back on track quickly should misunderstandings or difficult feelings arise. Research has shown that therapists’ perceptions of how helpful and empathic they are often differ radically from their clients’ perceptions of their helpfulness and empathy. In fact, there is less than a 10% correlation between the two! By your evaluating me each session, we avoid this discrepancy and any assumptions I might make about how you feel about me and the work we are doing together.
E=Empathy. All effective therapy requires deep empathy and connection between client and therapist. Some people have never experienced this sort of profound acceptance and support, and most find it extremely powerful and gratifying. Once that bond of safety is established, insights arise and you are free to face aspects of yourself you’ve been unwilling to examine before. Many people report a tremendous sense of relief at this point, just to be understood and accepted as they are.
A=Agenda-Setting. Here is where we will clearly define your goals, and together we assess your readiness for change. While you may desire life to be different, and want an end to your suffering, there are often excellent reasons to hold on to limiting beliefs, habits or feelings. In fact, those reasons can represent some of your highest and most compelling values, and until we’ve acknowledged and considered them, you cannot decide if you’re truly ready to roll up your sleeves and make changes.
M=Methods. This refers to the dozens of techniques I draw from, which evolved from CBT as well as many other schools of therapy, and even some spiritual traditions. Everyone responds differently to these, so a key principle is that we will experiment with as many methods as we can, as quickly as we can, until we find the ones that really knock your socks off! One method I use with virtually everyone is homework between sessions. This will look different for each person, but your commitment to work outside my office will greatly accelerate your healing process.
* Dr. Burns is the author of the best-selling Feeling Good, which has been the self-help book most frequently prescribed by therapists over the last 20 years.