*This blog post was written by Dr. Maor Katz, Director of Feeling Good Institute

Tip#3: The Accountability Step.

“There’s one more step that may be helpful to you Sam”, I said, as our session was coming to a close. He raised his eyes with concern. “If you’ll find it helpful, and feel up for it, I’d ask you to send me an email every night after 7pm. In the email I’d like for you to write one of two statements; either, ‘Mission accomplished’, or ‘I stubbornly refused’.”
Sam smiled broadly. “The words are very particular”, I said. “Yeah”, said Sam, “I get it, it shows I’m making a choice, that I’m in control of my own behavior”.

In TEAM Therapy CBT, developed by Dr. David Burns, when working on overcoming a habit such as procrastination, over-eating, or alcohol overuse, our patients leave our office with a tangible task to complete; 5 minutes of work on their to-do list, no snacks after 5pm, or resisting the alcoholic beverage after work on weekdays are common examples. Before hand, during the therapy session, they first convince us that they want to change their habit. They find a specific first step, identify their tempting thoughts, overcome them, foresee the challenges they’ll have in changing and find solutions to these challenges. Once they’ve done all that, they are ready to commit to a habit change task. Before they leave the room we ask for this final step. We call it the accountability step. We ask that there will be nothing else in the email, text of phone message they send to us. Only the words “mission accomplished” or “I stubbornly refused”.

Sam, a talented man in his early twenties, struggled with depression and procrastination. His task was to tackle his to-do list for 5 minutes per day from 7:00-7:05pm each week night.
The accountability step invariably brings a smile at the end of a hard therapy session and helps motivate our patients to take control over their habit. I recommend you try it out. It’s quite rewarding.

To learn more about the TEAM CBT approach to addictions using empathy, motivational and CBT techniques for more effective therapy, join us for an upcoming workshop in Mountain View CA on May 31, 2015.