T.E.A.M. Therapy

Mental health is fundamentally important. When therapists and patients actively work together, patients can effectively manage their mental health issues. An emerging model in psychotherapy called T.E.A.M. therapy has been a useful development for treating mental health issues. The foundation of T.E.A.M. therapy practice incorporates CBT and other psychotherapy models to help patients improve mental health.

What is T.E.A.M.?

Dr. David Burns has developed a new model for psychotherapy: T.E.A.M. Dr. Burns (M.D., Stanford University, 1970) is Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the Stanford University School of Medicine and served as a visiting scholar at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Burns developed T.E.A.M. therapy (and contributed to developing CBT). T.E.A.M. therapy came out of Dr. Burns’ weekly volunteer work hosting a psychotherapy training group for Stanford students and faculty as well as community mental health professionals.

T.E.A.M. Therapy is a new approach to therapy, which stands for: Testing, Empathy, Agenda Setting, and Methods.

T: Testing

E: Empathy

A: Agenda setting

M: Methods

People who can benefit from T.E.A.M. include individuals with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression

From CBT to T.E.A.M.

What is CBT?

CBT stands for Cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most important developments of psychiatry and psychology in the 20th century and has been used all over the world.

CBT is a common form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that helps patients modify how they perceive their thoughts and emotions. Patients often view situations in a negative light that often isn’t accurate. Learning strategies to view situations clearly helps patients change destructive behavior based on this new insight into their thought process. CBT is solution focused.

CBT can be helpful to individuals with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • or anyone who wants to better manage stressful situations

Dr. Burns still employs CBT techniques including:

  • Acceptance Paradox – Successfully changing only after accepting you might never change (for example, not being able to lose weight, coming to accept yourself as overweight, and then losing the weight as a result of self acceptance)
  • Externalization of Voices – Verbalizing one’s positive and negative thoughts through role play
  • Interpersonal Downward Arrow – Examining negative thoughts by asking, “If that were true …” until you come to the belief that is at the root of the problem.
  • and many more


CBT has been successful with many patients, leading to rapid recovery. However, other patients haven’t found CBT, other types of treatment, or medications helpful. Some studies report about half of depressed patients still struggle.

That’s where T.E.A.M. Therapy comes in.

T.E.A.M. Therapy builds on Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) by augmenting it with other forms of therapy in order to serve patients who haven’t responded to CBT alone.

Think of it as an umbrella. Instead of applying CBT only, T.E.A.M. incorporates a number of approaches that work in concert to get to the root of the problem and fix it.

Dr. Burns says T.E.A.M. Therapy is not a fad in psychotherapy, but rather an effective use of multiple therapies that already exist. According to Dr. Burns, T.E.A.M. Therapy generally works faster than talk therapy.

The T.E.A.M. approach to therapy

T = Testing

Patients are tested before and after therapy session to track improvement.

Clients measure their mood and other symptoms using scales that assess if they are meeting their goals. They also rate their therapists’ warmth, understanding, and helpfulness. This feedback allows therapists to assess their approach and look for ways to improve patient outcomes.

E = Empathy

One of the therapist’s roles is to view things from the patient’s perspective and understand the patient. Empathy alone usually doesn’t cure patients, but it is an important aspect of effective treatment.

Therapists’ perception of how empathic and helpful their patients think they are is usually less than 10% accurate. The client might not think their therapist is caring, but the therapist is unaware of their client’s perception.

That’s where patient assessment comes in. The truth can be upsetting to therapists, but those who discuss them with patients usually find therapy effectiveness increases.

Most people benefit from having a space to talk where they are understood and accepted. That’s why empathy is important for therapists to be effective.

According to Dr. Burns’ website, T.E.A.M. Therapy emphasizes therapists’ empathy, warmth, and caring to understand the client’s experience, feelings, thoughts, and concerns.

A = Agenda Setting

When we suffer, we want to get better. However, a part of us may resist change, sometimes for a good reason that reflects our values. Failure to change is most often caused by resistance.

In T.E.A.M. Therapy the client sets an agenda for every therapy session. The therapist and client focus on:

  • Problems most upsetting to the client
  • Problems the client wants to change

The therapist and client will discuss pros and cons of change and what action is likely needed to meet goals.

Some clients discover their symptoms are advantageous:

  • Anxiety could help you avoid danger
  • Guilt could be a reflection of ethical values
  • Hopelessness could save you from disappointment

You will likely feel conflicted about recovery. Agenda setting helps sort out your motivation to change and helps you decide if you think change is worth it.

M = Methods

Dr. Burns has created 50 techniques to help with depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and addictions. These include:

  1. Empathy
  2. Agenda setting
  3. Identify the distortions
  4. Straightforward technique
  5. Double standard technique
  6. Examine the evidence
  7. Experimental technique
  8. Survey method
  9. Reattribution
  10. Socratic method
  11. Thinking in shades of gray
  12. Process versus outcome
  13. Semantic method
  14. Let’s define terms
  15. Be specific
  16. Self-monitoring
  17. Negative practice
  18. Acceptance paradox
  19. Externalization of voices
  20. Feared fantasy technique
  21. Paradoxical magnification
  22. Shame-attacking exercises
  23. Cognitive flooding
  24. Image substitution
  25. Memory rescripting
  26. Hidden emotion technique
  27. Individual downward arrow
  28. Interpersonal downward arrow
  29. What-if technique
  30. Daily activity schedule
  31. Pleasure predicting sheet
  32. Little steps for big feats
  33. Anti-procrastination sheet
  34. Straightforward cost-benefit analysis
  35. Paradoxical cost-benefit analysis
  36. Devil’s advocate technique
  37. Stimulus control
  38. The decision-making form
  39. Gradual exposure flooding
  40. Response prevention
  41. Distraction
  42. Relationship cost-benefit analysis
  43. Revise your communication style
  44. Five secrets of effective communication
  45. One-minute drill
  46. Smile and hello practice
  47. David Letterman technique
  48. Self-disclosure
  49. Flirting training
  50. Rejection practice and rejection feared fantasy

T.E.A.M. Therapy helps defeat negative thoughts, beliefs, and behavior patterns that reduce joy, self-esteem, productivity, and intimacy.


The goals of T.E.A.M. Therapy:

  • Develop intimacy, confidence, and self-esteem
  • Understand why you struggle with these problems
  • Acquire relapse prevention techniques
  • Gain the ability to move out of a depression to feeling better quicker


The patient’s role in therapy is crucial. It must be a partnership consisting of the therapist and the patient working together.

Dr. Burns tells his patients, “Change is possible if we work as a team.”

Contact Garry Waterman

Garry Waterman (LMSW, ACSW) graduated from the University of Michigan in 1990 and has been helping clients improve their mental health ever since. He is a licensed social worker and therapist – and a practitioner of T.E.A.M. Therapy – who can help address the root causes of your mental health issues and devise an effective treatment plan to help you improve your mental health.

If you think you could benefit from Garry’s expertise in helping people with mental health issues, contact our office to set up an appointment today.

Contact Garry today to learn more about his services!

Midland Office

1205 E. Wackerly Street

Midland, MI 48642

(989) 832-9161


Mt. Pleasant Office

115 S. Franklin Street

Mount Pleasant, MI 48858

(989) 832-9161