Heather Clague, MD, MPH
Psychotherapy and psychopharmacology for adults in Oakland, California
What is TEAM Therapy?
TEAM therapy, invented by Dr. David Burns, isn’t just a kind of therapy; it is a framework for therapy. TEAM is an acronym:
T - Testing. Measuring symptoms at the start and end of each session allows us to see the impact of our work together and gives us feedback across time on your progress towards reaching your goals. I use the Brief Mood Survey, developed by Dr. Burns, but my patients and I often modify the form to reflect their particular goals.
E - Empathy. Engaging in psychotherapy can be a vulnerable process. A warm and supportive connection between therapist and patient is essential to fostering change. Who would let someone guide us who does not understand where and how we are stuck? Accurate empathy is so important that I will be asking you to give me written feedback at the end of each session so I can know when I’ve gotten off track and learn how to be the most effective therapist for you.
A - Agenda Setting. Agenda setting is a critical step in psychotherapy when we take time to appreciate what is positive about the symptoms you are wanting to change. Few of us would be stuck if there weren’t some advantages to our negative feelings and troublesome behaviors, painful as they are. In fact, our symptoms often reflect our most deeply held values, such as our desire to protect and care about ourselves and others, and our wish to thrive and productively contribute to the world. When we take the time to acknowledge how our symptoms may be operating to serve these values, we may paradoxically find that our symptoms have less hold on us. This sets us up for lasting change.
M - Methods. The technology of psychotherapy has advanced remarkably in the past 30 years, and there are hundreds of powerful methods that will help us shift how we feel, how we think, and how we behave. Not every method may work for everyone, but through a process of trial and error, we will discover the methods that work for you. The good news is that the methods that help you solve one problem will help you at many places where you may be stuck. Through the course of our work together you will develop your own personal toolkit that will help you thrive and handle whatever life may bring.