The Feeling Good Therapist - Socratic Method Technique

Socratic Method Technique with host, Richard Lam, LMFT, featuring LJ Davis, M.A., LPC, CPCS

*This Technique was developed by Dr. David Burns, American Psychiatrist and Adjunct Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

This video showcases how the Socratic Method can empower individuals to reframe their thoughts and improve their emotional well-being. The Socratic questioning in therapy is a powerful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT Therapy) technique developed by Dr. David Burns to help individuals challenge and reevaluate their negative beliefs.

This video featuring Richard and LJ demonstrates how the Socratic Method involves gentle probing questions to uncover underlying assumptions and thought patterns. The CBT socratic questioning technique seeks out false assumptions in our thought processes. In this role-playing scenario, Richard plays a client who believes, "I shouldn't have made that mistake." As the therapist, LJ uses thoughtful questioning to guide the other toward a more positive perspective.

Through their dialogue, they explore the logic behind the belief that everyone makes mistakes, which leads to personal growth. Richard realizes that making mistakes is part of learning and growth. He shifts his perspective to embrace mistakes as opportunities for improvement. A logical thought is, “everyone makes mistakes sometimes."


Richard: Hello everyone, welcome to the Feeling Good Therapist where we learn different skills and techniques to learn in our own private practice or in our own therapy practice rather and in our personal lives as well. Today, we have LJ Davis, who will be teaching us the Socratic Technique, a technique created by Dr. David Burns.

LJ Davis: Hi Richard, how are you doing today?

Richard: Doing great! How are you?

LJ Davis: I'm doing well. I'm glad to be here.

Richard: Yeah, tell us a little more about the Socratic Technique and what role I'll be playing today.

LJ Davis: Alright! Well, the Socratic Technique is a really simple technique but it can also have some really powerful results sometimes. As you know the the basic of cognitive therapy is if we can change our thoughts or change our beliefs, we can change how we feel. And the Socratic technique is using just gentle probing questions to look at some of the underlying assumptions, we might have about ourselves or about the world to support us in finding new more positive ways to think about ourselves.

Richard: Yeah, that sounds wonderful. Let’s do it. And, what do you think my role will be in this one?

LJ Davis: Well, I think let's imagine that you're an accountant. Obviously, you have spreadsheets and you're doing important things with numbers and at some point you made a mistake in one of your spreadsheets and that had a cascading effect and so it caused some problems for you and your company, nothing that you got fired for lost your job or anything like that. But you've been feeling really upset with yourself about having made that mistake and the thought that you and I have been working on together with me as your therapist is, I shouldn't have made that mistake.

Richard: Right, that sounds like you're getting an example. Let's get started.

LJ Davis: Okay. Well, Richard, I've been really enjoying our work together so far and you know we've made some progress on this thought when we've done some of the other techniques but I'm wondering if you would be willing to try another really kind of simple technique called the Socratic Questioning Technique, where I will ask you just some gentle probing questions to try to understand how this thought is working in your life and to see if there might be some false assumptions that are underlying it.

Richard: Alright! Let's give it a shot! I'd love to try that.

LJ Davis: Okay, that sounds great! So, just remember that the thought is I shouldn't have made that mistake. I’m gonna start off with what probably seemed like a ridiculous question but and I think we both know the answer to it. But Richard, would you describe yourself as a human being?

Richard: Yeah, of course definitely a human being.

LJ Davis: Yeah and in the case of working on the spreadsheets for you taking some sort of action in your life or in the world.

Richard: Yeah, I would say so.

LJ Davis: Yeah, I think certainly you're there, you're busy actively doing work and can I ask Richard, what percentage of human beings when they're taking action at some point will make a mistake

Richard: Well, I mean everyone's going to make a mistake here and there eventually, it's hard to avoid any type of mistake.

LJ Davis: Yeah, I think that's right I know I certainly make at least 17 mistakes every day and so I think you know it's perfectly normal if I'm hearing you right, that you would make some mistakes sometimes. So, I want to ask which would be actually a more logical statement if we just think about how things were constructed logically. “I shouldn't have made a mistake” or “I should make mistakes sometimes”.

Richard: Well, yeah definitely “I should make some mistakes sometimes”. Like when I think about it, everyone makes mistakes and really that's kind of like how people grow too like I've kind of seeing people in my life and personally for me too when I make mistakes I really grow a lot from it and not make that mistake again and yeah definitely a good learning lesson.

LJ Davis: Yeah, I think that's a huge part is that we'll hopefully grow and learn from our mistakes and it's also just a sign, for me a sign that I'm doing something in the world. Like, if I'm doing something I know that I'm going to make mistakes sometimes and so I wonder what's a positive thought you could take from this part of the conversation that would help you to combat this idea that you shouldn't make mistakes.

Richard: Oh well, it's not true that I shouldn't make mistakes. In fact, making mistakes means I'm kind of doing something in the world and therefore I can kind of grow from it and kind of expand my bubble a little bit more and eventually kind of grow to the person that I want to be given. I'm going to progress more in life.

LJ Davis: Alright! I love that Richard. That sounds great!

Richard: Wonderful, let's pause right there. This was a really awesome demonstration from LJ Davis of this required questioning technique. If you're interested in learning more about LJ, you can look for him in the descriptions below or if you're looking for more techniques and methods, feel free to subscribe to the Feeling Good Therapist YouTube channel and until next time everyone, bye.

LJ Davis: Bye!

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