This photo popped up on my Facebook feed this morning as I sipped my first cup of coffee on this unseasonably cold Colorado morning. I smiled with warm satisfaction as I recalled pushing myself to ask David Burns, MD, author of “Feeling Good, The New Mood Therapy,” for the photograph exactly four years ago at a snowy Minneapolis workshop. “This chance may never come again,” I said to myself like a gutsy best friend. “Just do it!” One of the most popular and pioneering psychiatrists of our time responded, “Yes!” I was star struck. And I was changed forever. My confident voice said I would one day work with him. And damn, it happened.
I remember nudging myself again and asked him at the end of the workshop, “What next? How do I learn more about TEAM-CBT?” He shyly gave me a flier with the names of all the Feeling Good Institute trainers available to help me hone my new skills. The list looked daunting, so I selected Jill Levitt, Ph.D., Director of Training for FGI. It turned out to be an excellent fit.
Madeleine Albright, the first United States Secretary of State, once said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” I’ve never been fortunate enough to have healthy female mentors in my career, so studying with Jill was a first. Jill is brilliant. But that’s not the only reason Jill is such a find. She’s warm, compassionate, encouraging, driven, energetic, motivating, nurturing, forgiving and wise. I’ve never felt intimidated or patronized. And from what I’ve heard from other students I’ve met at the Feeling Good Institute, they feel similarly. I call her the “TEAM-CBT goddess,” and I feel more securely connected with other women because I’ve had the warm and safe connection with this mentor who inspired me to make groundbreaking changes personally and professionally. Today, I feel like I want to live forever.
Last year I needed to spread my wings and fly from Jill’s nest. That’s when I discovered Angela Krumm, Ph.D., FGI’s Director of Clinical Services. Man, can that woman lead a group! Each Thursday morning I join the Mountain View, CA group online. She teaches us new skills and we practice them together in role plays with one another. Angela mastered David’s “Five Secrets of Effective Communication.” She’s a gifted communicator who created a warm, supportive and lively environment where we can help each other advance our skills.
We don’t hear much about FGI Director Maor Katz, MD. He’s the quiet visionary behind FGI. It’s his baby. He and several master therapists, who years ago studied directly with David at his free Tuesday Stanford training group, started FGI as a natural extension of their learning. They wanted to bring the training to therapists, so Maor founded FGI in Silicon Valley. Now, it’s growing across the globe. TEAM-CBT therapists offer training and intensive therapy for patients throughout the United States, Canada, and most recently Israel. You can read more about it at http://www.feelinggoodinstitute.com.
A potential client once asked me a question that motivates me to get the word out to the public about David’s rapid recovery therapy: “If TEAM-CBT is so good, then why don’t people know about it?” That’s when I approached David and said we had something people really wanted but they just didn’t know it existed. At the same time, Maor asked me if I’d manage the FGI Facebook page. That was our first step into using social media to promote TEAM-CBT. None of is a pro at using social media. We’re learning together and having fun climbing the learning curve.
David and colleague Fabrice Nye, Ph.D. have recently created the increasingly popular “Feeling Good Podcast” https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/feeling-good-podcast/id1171155453?mt=2 Listeners are responding enthusiastically, especially after he and Jill conducted a live therapy session over several broadcasts. David is thrilled with the positive and encouraging emails he’s receiving on his website http://www.feelinggood.com. The man is on fire.
The little voice in the back of my head occasionally advises me, “Be careful what you ask for.” It’s a cautionary note: Engaging in such a stimulating and rewarding process in a supportive community brings about major shifts in thinking, feeling and behavior. I’m not the person I was four years ago. But it’s challenging, exhausting, painful and nerve-wracking. I have stepped way out of my comfort zone. I face my fears and insecurities. I challenge my negative thoughts when I hear them. I’ve changed the way I communicate with others. I try to take 100 percent responsibility in my relationships rather than blame. I’m aware of my self-defeating tendencies, and I no longer engage in toxic relationships. I respect myself and others. But there are inherent dangers in change. We challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world. We change, and therefore others are challenged to change as well or be left behind. As the late Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D. wrote, “Change is the end result of all true learning.”
But as a result of this hard work, I’m now living my dream. I’m learning, writing, editing, podcasting, traveling and connecting with highly educated therapists. I have close friendships with the women I’ve met in my studies. David is no longer a celebrity in my mind. He is my highly esteemed colleague. He is my sidekick in publishing and promoting his high-speed therapy so as many people as possible can benefit.
So, I caution you before you take that first FGI training, sign up for intensive therapy, read David’s next blog, or book, or listen to that next podcast. Stop and ponder all that’s at stake. “Are you sure you’re ready for change?”