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David D. Burns is an adjunct professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the author of the best-selling books Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and The Feeling Good Handbook. Burns popularized Aaron T. Beck's cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when his book became a best seller during the 1980s.
Burns received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1964 and his M.D. from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1970. He completed his residency training in psychiatry in 1974 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and was certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1976. Burns is the author of numerous research studies, book chapters and books. He also gives lectures and conducts many psychotherapy training workshops for mental health professionals throughout the United States and Canada each year. He has won many awards for his research and teaching, and has been named "Teacher of the Year" three times by the graduating class of psychiatric residents at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Burns was an early student of Aaron T. Beck who developed cognitive therapy during the 1960s and 1970s. Cognitive therapy was also based on the pioneering work of the late Albert Ellis, PhD who popularized the notion that our thoughts and beliefs create our moods during the 1950s. However, the basic concept behind cognitive therapy goes all the way back to Epictetus, the Greek philosopher. Nearly 2,000 years ago he wrote that people are disturbed not by things, but by the views we take of them. In other words our thoughts (or "cognitions") create all of our feelings. Thus when we make healthy changes in the way we think, we experience healthy changes in the way we feel.
In the past ten years, Burns has developed a new approach to psychotherapy called T.E.A.M. Therapy. TEAM addresses some of the shortcomings in cognitive therapy, and is based on the notion that motivation influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions just as much as our thoughts (or cognitions). In addition, when you combine cognitive and motivational techniques, you will often see significantly faster recovery from depression and all of the anxiety disorders. For more information, visit www.feelinggood.com.
Burns is on the voluntary faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is actively involved in research and training. He has also served as a statistical consultant for Stanford's new Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research. He has also served as Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Medical School and Acting Chief of Psychiatry at the Presbyterian / University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia.
The BDC is a rating scale for depression copyrighted by David D. Burns. The 1984 version was a 15-question survey; the 1996 revision is a 25-question survey. Each question is answered in the context of "during the past week, including today" and on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 being "not at all" and 4 being "extremely." For Burns, the BDC replaced Aaron Beck's BDI which appeared in the 1980 edition of Feeling Good (that Burns says he was grateful for permission to reproduce).
Burns has also developed brief scales to measure depression, suicidal urges, anxiety, anger, and relationship satisfaction, as well as scales to assess the quality of the therapeutic alliance and effectiveness. These scales have high reliabilities (generally above .90) and each scale can be completed by patients and scored in less than 15 seconds. Burns and his colleagues require patients to complete these instruments in the waiting room just before and after each therapy session, so therapists can see how much progress the patient has made, or failed to make. Based on this information, therapists can change strategies if needed. Patients also rate therapists on warmth, empathy, and helpfulness in the wating room after each session so therapists can see with much greater accuracy how their patients feel about them and the therapy.
This information can also be invaluable to the therapist, but it takes courage because the scales are extremely sensitive, and most therapist will initially receive failing grades from most patients at most therapy sessions. If the therapist has the courage to process this information with kindness, curiosity, and non-defensiveness at the patient at the next therapy session, it will often lead to a therapeutic breakthrough.