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Best Books Blog

My favorite self help books

Feeling Great, by David D. Burns

May 25, 2021

I just finished reading Feeling Great, by David D. Burns, MD and I am excited to recommend it! In Feeling Great, Dr. Burns shares his unique method for reinterpreting and challenging our negative thoughts and beliefs. With humor and compassion, he explains how our negative thoughts and beliefs can actually reveal beautiful things about us. This experience of “positive reframing” helps melt away our resistance to change. What follows is heightened motivation to learn how to identify our thought distortions (such as all or nothing thinking, should statements, mind reading, etc.) and replace them with more accurate thoughts.

The book is written for the general public as well as for therapists and contains lots of worksheets and self help quizzes. Thus, Feeling Great is more of a “workbook” than a didactic text.

Feeling Great shares moving stories about people most of us can relate to. When we read how various individuals learn to reframe their thinking and experience surprisingly rapid change, many of us will feel inspired to try the techniques for ourselves.

As a therapist who has had many years of experience working with DBT, I found myself noticing the similarities and some difference between the techniques in this book and those taught in DBT. It was a refreshing experience for me to see a number of techniques I was familiar with presented in a new way.

Both stress “willingness” as necessary for change and emphasize the importance of homework as integral to recovery. Both teach how to replace extreme thinking with “shades of gray” and highlight the necessity to check the facts.

Another similarity to DBT is the use of mood journals. While the structure of the Feeling Great journal is different from that of the DBT Diary Card, the idea of developing awareness of our thoughts and feelings is the same.

I do want to give a heads up to anyone dealing with bipolar disorder or other biologically based mental illnesses. Dr. Burns does not address these, nor the medications that can be so vital for such illnesses. Nevertheless, I believe that his techniques can be helpful for anyone who is beset with negative thoughts and beliefs.

Beginning on March 17, 2021, I will be participating in the 16 week virtual Feeling Great Book Club where we will delve deeply into the principles and exercises in Feeling Great. I look forward to sharing these techniques with my clients. If you would like to learn more about the principles in Feeling Great, check out out the Feeling Great website and podcasts. In addition, I have learned that a new book clubs will be starting in the near future.

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