TEAM-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Begin anew….

Begin anew….


What drew me to TEAM-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was David Burns, MD. His credentials are impressive, but I have seen a lot of trainers with striking credentials and big personalities. It was his humility that made me stop and take another look.

Dr. Burns is one of the most recognized psychiatrists in the world, yet he avoids all notions that he is a psychiatric super star. In fact he is more likely to laugh at his own foibles or point out his own challenging childhood. Turning away from a lucrative beginning in biological research psychiatry, Dr. Burns has devoted himself to reducing emotional suffering in his patients.

In his long career, he has searched for and tested the most effective methods for treating emotional distress. TEAM-CBT is the result of his findings. So, what is TEAM-CBT? TEAM does not suggest that there are a team of people involved in the therapy. Instead, TEAM is an acronym as spelled out below.

T = Testing
A central practice in TEAM-CBT Therapy is to measure the success of therapy on a weekly basis. Who decides what is successful? The client. Before and after each session, the client completes a brief form that determines whether the session and the therapist were helpful, or not. The client’s input helps the therapist make adjustments in their approach. It also tells the therapist the degree to which s/he understands and cares about the client.

E = Empathy
Only when the therapist understands the client from the client’s point of view, will effective therapy take place. Therapists are taught to use a fair amount of interpretive psycho-babble, none of which convinces the client of being understood by their therapist. TEAM-CBT focuses on conveying to the client that they are truly understood.

A = Agenda Setting
Another word for Agenda Setting is “Motivation.” In the process of exploring issues of motivation, the client often develops an appreciation for how their painful symptoms can protect or serve them. For example, John is getting poor grades in his college major of Electrical Engineering. All his efforts to improve have stalled along the way and he is now concerned about flunking out of college. When he and his therapist explore how not studying may actually be helping him, he discovers he really doesn’t want to be an electrical engineer. This is what his dad wants, but John is much more interested in becoming a pilot.

Agenda Setting deals with addressing these sometimes hidden truths that can clear a path to resolving problems.

M = Methods
Many treatment approaches rely on a small group of techniques that are repeated throughout therapy. TEAM CBT recognizes that each person, and the issues they struggle with, are unique. Thus, a large pool of techniques, over 50, is available to the therapist during a client’s treatment. Quite like physical medicine, many interventions are needed to address a wide range of maladies and personalities.

These four components, Testing, Empathy, Agenda Setting and Methods, are woven throughout my work with clients. Depending on the needs of the client, I may use a Cognitive approach, Behavioral methods, Solution Focused interventions, or strategies from Mindfulness. What is important is that we discover and use what approach works for you.