Gabriella Kellerman
AI’s Place in Therapy and Coaching (with Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman)

AI could possibly be one of the best tools for the mental health field. The merging of technology and therapy is exciting and getting proven results..

Gabriella Kellerman
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Show Notes

AI is no longer some strange science fiction concept, it is becoming a part of human existence. Dr. Gabriella Kellerman (@gabriellarosenkellerman) has dedicated her life to discovering the most impactful ways to empower and transform the condition of mental illness. Her passion for the science of thriving has led her to become the Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Product Officer at BetterUp Labs. Her new book Tomorrow Mind is all about thriving and training our minds to investigate and learn how we can improve our thought process, attitudes, and actions. 

 Many advances have been made thanks to the technology advancements of AI. Utilizing this new era Dr. Gabriella Kellerman has dedicated her work in discovering research based inclusive methods that will support people in thriving in today’s world. Inspired by her father’s dedication to helping humanity with sustainable energy resources, Dr. Kellerman from a young age decided she wanted to also dedicate her life to a purpose that would serve humanity.

We are trying to help people shift into a more proactive mindset, where it’s not about any one challenge. It’s about all of the challenges to come preparing to meet them with greater resilience, greater foresight, greater reserves of motivation. ” 

Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman

Key Takeaways:

  • PRISM: This acronym stands for Honing Prospection: the ability to think about the future (P), Resilience (R), Finding, Innovation, establishing Social supports (S), and  meaning (M). 
  • Key Difference of a Coach vs. Therapist: Therapists can treat clinical conditions, get reimbursement from insurance, etc. Therapists do also see high functioning people for non clinical purposes without insurance reimbursement which can look a lot like coaching. Coaches do not do clinical work, they do not treat clinical conditions.They are wonderful resources for building personal and professional development skills. 
  • Toxic Positivity: Toxic positivity is sort of a shallow positivity, where people know that underlying it is not that depth of authentic, positive feeling. Chasing happiness as a goal or the ultimate state can be toxic because it can trap us in denying the value of the rainbow of emotional states. Living a positive life includes relationships, deep engagement with your work, a sense of achievement, a sense of meaning and purpose, these don’t always come with positive emotions as relationships can be difficult.
  • Optimistic Thinking: Our brains tend to lean toward pessimistic thoughts. Being aware of when we go into fear or reaction and looking at what thoughts come up is important. Catching negative thoughts regarding outcomes and countering them with possible positive results can help us stay in balance and be less reactive.

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Mark Divine  0:00  

This is Mark Divine and I am the host of the Mark Divine Show. Thanks so much for joining me today super stoked to be with you. And to have you join me on this show I dive in and talk to world leaders and thought leaders and scientists and Navy SEALs and folks who are doing incredible work and being courageous and changing the world. Today, my guest is Dr. Gabriella Kellerman, MD, and will talking about her book Tomorrow Mind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection-Now and In an Uncertain Future. Gabriella has served as Chief Product Officer/Chief Innovation Officer at BetterUp. She’s head at BetterUp labs. She’s also the founding CEO of Lifelink. She’s an adviser to healthcare coaching and behavioral change technology company. She’s trained in psychiatry, and fMRI research and holds an MD with honors from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a BA Summa Cum Laude from Harvard. She has been published and featured in many publications such as the Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and more.

Mark Divine 1:01

Dr. Kelemen, thanks so much for joining me today on the Mark Divine Show, super nice to meet you.

Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  1:05  

Great to meet you.

Mark Divine  1:07  

I’m excited to chat about your work and contribution and all the things that are going on in your life. First off, I generally, as I mentioned earlier, like to just get a read on what were some of the formative influences in your life, like? Where did you grow up? What were your parents like? How did they shape you? What was the conditioning like that sent you on a trajectory?

Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  1:23  

I love that question. I grew up in Berkeley, California. I live today about three miles from the house I grew up in, but I have traveled all around the globe in the interim. And my dad was a really big influence on me professionally, because he’s a scientist, he devoted his whole career to the problem of how can we make an alternate energy source.

Mark Divine 1:43


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 1:44

HIs lab had a big breakthrough that was in the New York Times just a few weeks ago at Lawrence Livermore.


Mark Divine  1:49  

Is it fusion work that he’s working on? 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 1:51

Correct? Yeah, it’s over 50 years, he’s really been devoting himself to that. And he grew up lower class and you know, really earn scholarships, etc. to get there. I grew up middle class, my parents spent the money they had to spend on our education. And I think between that, and him in particular, is my influence. I have this sense of, I have the gift of this great upbringing, and this world class education, I also want to devote my life to an essential problem that can help humanity and that will keep me engaged. 


Mark Divine 2:23



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman

So mine has been wellbeing. It’s been a combination of a fascination with the brain. And then there’s an emotional side to it, which is, how do we help people increase the quality of their life? How do we help make these days that we’re here on Earth more enjoyable, more fulfilling, we have learned to lengthen our lives, we’ve increased our standard of living, but our lived experience, arguably has not improved since we evolved. So that’s been the problem. Now, unlike my dad, who has been able to work on fusion in one lab for his entire career, it’s taken me a long time to figure out my way to working on this problem and where and how. And I continue to wander in that journey. And I’ve been wonderfully happy at BetterUp. But it’s a very different place than I thought I would wind up a path that started in medicine, as a research psychiatrist took me into public health, all through the world of technology to learn business and product and work with enterprise populations, lead enterprise populations myself, and have done a lot of science along the way. So love the journey and still committed to that very same problem. 


Mark Divine  3:28 

Well, you glossed over a long list of ups and downs and challenges and gyrations and made it sound pretty simple. I’m sure it wasn’t just from a developmental perspective, using you as the N=1 subject. What were some of the biggest challenges and pivot points or decision points that led you a to become a psychiatrist? And then, you know, I’d love to talk about BetterUp. I don’t know much about the organization, although seen quite a bit recently in the news about them.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  3:57  

Yeah, so the single biggest pivot point for me professionally was deciding to leave clinical and research medicine. By the time I did that, I was in my psychiatry residency, I was in the fMRI research lab where I plan to stay for quite some time. And I looked out ahead at the next 40 or 50 years of my career and realized in a few different dimensions, it was not going to be a good fit. So first was just the pace of innovation. I wanted to advance, I still want to advance the science, I want to advance our quality of living, not just sort of perpetuate the tools that we have. And I found that as a practicing physician, a lot of what I would be doing was getting people access to the best that we have today, which is a really important thing to do. But that’s different than innovating on the tools of tomorrow. But, uh, it was a major crisis of faith. For me. It was the only time in my career that I really had to walk away from something without having any idea what I would walk toward, and that was a long couple years to find my way from there.


Mark Divine  5:00  

Right. I think a lot of people are going through that journey today, because of their COVID in the resignation, and I just had this conversation the other day, it can be very disorienting when you’re clear that the path that you were on was not it. But you’re not clear about what is the next path. So how did you navigate that?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  5:16  

So I was very fortunate, we don’t all have this partner who was able to help cover our household costs. And I was able to take a couple of years and still earning money, but try different things right without really committing to anything. And that’s still the route I recommend is you throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall, get your foot in the door, the things you care most about, try to do them for free, put yourself out there seeking, get the experience and the exposure, and then see what’s catching your interest. All of it is going to teach you something, all of it’s going to help you gain some skills. And for me at all pointed me really toward the emerging digital health sector where I could see these new ways of using technology to improve performance and wellbeing. And that was the beginning of a journey. What I actually wanted to work on didn’t exist for several years into that journey. But I could see that it would come and it could be there. 


Mark Divine  6:10  

I love what you just said, by the way, do for free what you care most about. I think that’s a really powerful piece of guidance. Because yes, we have to make money. But if we don’t know what our passion is, then just continue to pursue it by through service or trying things out and making money some other way. That’s solid advice. What was the innovation you saw, or that confluence of technologies that you saw that didn’t exist, but you were now a part of?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  6:36  

Yeah, so it did not exist yet that people were thinking about how to use software platforms to help people live better. Software that was being used for some urgent challenges, and also a lot of consumerism, as you might imagine. And on the urgent challenges side, it was beginning to be applied to healthcare. In the beginning, it wasn’t yet behavioral health, it was more on the physical health side. And as it came into behavioral health, it was things like virtual access to a psychiatrist. And actually, part of how I learned about it was the very, very early, very, very clunky days of like Skype psychiatry, that was one of the light bulbs, were talking like massive cubic TVs and clinics connected to other massive cubic TVs in clinics, with like 100 wires. But I could see because of the pace of innovation and other products and other realms, how much good could be done through technology to help people grow and change and improve. So much of what I’ve worked on for the last 15 years is how do we use the best of software to bring that together with the best of human to human support to help people grow, especially when we know that the human human support is essential. And also, it alone is not going to scale. So if we want to reach as many people as possible, which is part of this energizing problem for me, we have to bring technology to bear.


Mark Divine  7:58  

What’s the current state of the technology solution? I’ve heard a lot about personalized medicine and AI analysis as well as telehealth moving into much more engagement. We’re in an age of accelerated exponential technology, what does it look like in three to five years?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  8:14  

Yeah, so I think that there are some bellwethers from the clinical world that we should be paying attention to those of us who want to use technology to grow and, you know, achieve our goals. What is happening there that can come into our world is called digital therapeutics. And it’s a whole world of software that is prescribed to patients for different types of behavioral and cognitive change. So it’s used to treat ADHD, there’s different digital therapeutics that are thought to help with things like Alzheimer’s, but there’s a whole path for actual FDA approval for software that can help effectively change your brain. And that is something we should all be really excited about.


Mark Divine  9:02  

I’m just trying to wrap my brain around what that would look like. Are we doing like brain training like Lumosity, but on steroids, what are we talking about here?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  9:09  

Great question. So these are would fall mostly in the Lumosity category. There’s a whole array of digital therapeutics but the one I’m talking about are more like gamified trainings.


Mark Divine 9:20

Got it.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 9:20

That have reached a level of effectiveness where now they can be prescribed like a pill.


Mark Divine  9:25  

That’s amazing. Wow, there’s been a lot of anecdotal evidence and even research to suggest that Neurofeedback and actual active engagement with a tool, like Lumosity, or Dual-N-Back does change the brain structures and leads to effectiveness. But that’s usually for like performance. It’s always been used, like from good to great type training. And so now you’re suggesting that this is actually being an intervention for cognitive decline or impairment.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  9:49  

These are used to take you from, you know, maybe a negative six to negative three. Some of the good to great tools, I don’t think have had historically as robust and consistent outcomes.


Mark Divine 10:02

Really okay. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 10:03

And so I like to point to digital therapeutics, just to say like, hey, it’s good enough for the FDA, there’s a really high bar there, we should all be believers in this as something that’s going to have the potential to change our lives. It’s also I think, a more uplifting counterpoint to the negatives around what technology can do to our brain that are really important to keep in mind, there is a flip side to that if it can affect our brain that much for the negative, there’s hope that it can actually do the opposite with thought and care.


Mark Divine  10:32  

Garbage in, garbage out. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  10:35  

Yeah, all of these rely on AI, by the way, so the development of all of these tools that are at this level of performance rely on AI. So AI is kind of everything. But the other vein that I think is really interesting to think about on the performance side is how is AI going to continue to help make us better at our jobs around the soft skills. So there’s a lot of products out there that help you with hard skills, and they’re great. I think even things around having effective conversations delivering effective feedback. These are places we’re going to be able to learn a lot from tips and tricks, and I think gain a lot of self awareness that we don’t have based on the AI.


Mark Divine  11:13  

How close are we to having a virtual therapist, AI generated virtual therapist?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  11:19  

We have tools today that can do some of the work of a therapist. Will it ever do the full job of a therapist? And I think that’s an open question. Can it do the full job of a therapist if we know that it’s a bot versus we somehow think we’re talking to a person? And one of the topics that I’m most interested in as a scientist is, what is it that one human being does for another that we believe a machine can’t or an AI can’t? What fundamentally is happening when we’re connecting human to human that is so different from any other kind of intervention? I think AI is going to help us understand that better. I think that the answer is part of the work of a therapist can meet online AI. We haven’t yet seen a full replacement. And many would say that that is an elusive goal.


Mark Divine  12:12  

Because my background is a developmental leader, right as Navy SEAL, trainer, peak performance coach, I’m really biased against pharmacological interventions that have trapped so many people in depression, addiction, what’s your take on it? I know that’s not all bad, that can be important interventions. How do you pair the pharmacological with the digital for a better solution?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  12:34  

I’ll speak to it on that clinical side if that’s okay, where I think the data is a little more straightforward. The accepted wisdom was that therapy works, medication works, they work best together. Now that assumes that you have someone who’s getting the medication for the right indication.


Mark Divine 12:52



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 12:53

Under close supervision. This is not about addictive medications, right. I think that the promise is there that these things can work well together. But the principle can be easily misapplied. And I agree, it has gotten a lot of folks into trouble and into solutions that are not sustainable and are ultimately going to work against them.


Mark Divine  13:13  

And I imagine that having really sophisticated technology can aid in ensuring that someone doesn’t go down the wrong path. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 13:22



Mark Divine 13:23

And even the therapist is using the right dosages and transitioning off protocols in the right timelines and stuff like that. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 13:29



Mark Divine 13:30

So are you still at BetterUp?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  13:32  

I am. Yeah, I’m the Chief Innovation Officer at BetterUp.


Mark Divine  13:35  

Okay, so describe BetterUp solution to me, I’m curious about that. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  13:39  

It’s a platform for personal and professional development for mostly full time employees at the fortune 1000. Mostly, it is used as a b2b solution. But we also have a consumer arm. So you could go on the App Store and start working with BetterUp. We’re known best for coaching. So we have almost 4000 coaches. Now, every geography every continent, every language you can imagine, and hundreds of 1000s of people getting coached at a time on the platform. We also have workshops, we have group coaching, we have content. So there’s a broader suite of offerings at this point. And it’s meant to map to your needs when you need it. It reflects a really holistic vision and philosophy around development, which is that the personal stuff and the professional stuff are all in the same tissues, the same cells, the same nerve fibers needs to be addressed and built together. It’s often the professional pain points that bring people into Better Up so wanting career progress, feeling stalled, working on communication, feedback, difficult conversations, all of these things. And then as people get into the work, it can turn into something that’s more fundamental and ends up saving a marriage or improving relationship with your kids. You know, there’s just profound changes you know, that can happen once we get into the muck and start working on ourselves.


Mark Divine  15:01  

Right. So back to the technology piece, besides, you know, just the app, which so someone might schedule and have a virtual contact with a coach, how else is technology involved?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  15:11  

Yeah, so we are measuring all the progress that’s happening. So assessments is one piece of it. So each person can know how they’re growing. So the coach can actually monitor how they’re doing and improve their practice. There’s AI that’s used both to match you with the coach. So there’s a pretty sophisticated matching algorithm. And then also in the recommendations of content and activities for you. In the corporate environment, we also do a lot of integration. So we integrate with an HCM or learning management system, so that we’re in the flow of work with the people that we’re supporting. And it helps us know who’s going to benefit from what at what time? 


Mark Divine  15:49  

Oh yeah, Ican see Oh, that’d be very important. Awesome. Which kind of brings me to your insight work with your writing in the book Tomorrow Mind, subtitle thriving at work with resilience, creativity and connection now and in an uncertain future. Which is on everyone’s mind, what is the today mind? Before we start talking about the tomorrow mind? What is that?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  16:08  

So one of the features of the mindset that we’re trying to help you move away from is a very reactive mindset, even where we started this conversation, where I talked about my big pivot in my career, and these things are one moment of change in a forest of change, that we’re all navigating over the course of our careers.


Mark Divine 16:28



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 16:29

We are trying to help people shift into a more proactive mindset, where it’s not about any one challenge. It’s about all of the challenges to come preparing to meet them with greater resilience, greater foresight, greater reserves of motivation. So that’s one piece of it. The other dimension of what we’re trying to move away from is a world of work, where there’s a lot of legacy from the Industrial Revolution, both in how we structure our work, and how we think about roles and positions, even in how the corporation is structured, that was suited to a very different kind of work than we do today. Work that was pretty static over the course of your career pretty predictable. Those structures and mindsets aren’t serving us well anymore. And so we’re trying to bring greater awareness to that. And help people lean into things like creativity, quickly building trust with all of the many new people we’re constantly coming into contact with, skills that will serve us a lot better in a much more dynamic world of work


Mark Divine  17:28  

What are some of the big themes in your book Tomorrow Mind? How do we get to where we’re thriving with resilience, as opposed to reacting to the latest crisis, which the media is no shortage of Glee and shoving down our throats?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  17:41  

Yeah, so we outlined five skills, all of which can be developed and all of which we have researched. And when I say we, I actually mean two things. I mean, me and my co author, Marty Seligman, UPenn. Professor.


Mark Divine 17:54



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 17:55

I also mean me and the team at BetterUp lab, so vast team of researchers. So this all came out of your research at BetterUp. 


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 18:01

That’s right. So lots of original research in identifying these five skills and also in developing the science behind them. So the acronym is PRISM: P is Prospection, R is Resilience, I is innovation, S is social support, our particular take on social support is what we call rapid report, and the M is Mattering.


Mark Divine  18:23  

Okay, I like the prospective thing. I mean, that’s kind of a cool word. How do we teach someone to have greater prospective on themselves and others and situations in their life?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  18:31  

Prospection is the ability to imagine and plan for the future, a subset on that’s pretty much what we mean, whenever we say prospection, which is really effective imagining and planning for the future. There’s a lot of cognitive traps that we can fall into. Some of them were hardwired, their biases, and some of them are more individual, and we have to acknowledge them and overcome them. The first piece is understanding that there’s two phases to prospection. So phase one is fast, optimistic, it is divergent. And then phase two kicks in after that, and Phase One might last a few seconds. Phase two is more like minutes. And it’s much more evaluative. It’s slower, it can contend toward the pessimistic. Both are really important in terms of getting us to a helpful state of preparation for what is coming or could be coming. And we can make different mistakes in each face.


Mark Divine  19:27  

It sounds a lot like Daniel Kahneman system one and system to thinking.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  19:31  

Isn’t that amazing how there’s so many models that align to this? 


Mark Divine 19:35

They are, yes, it’s cool.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 19:37

To me that that’s how you know you’re getting to truth.


Mark Divine 19:39



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 19:40

When all of those things start aligning.


Mark Divine  19:42  

I’ve been teaching leadership development now for 20 years. And I finally went back to get my doctorate started a year and a half ago at Pepperdine in Global Leadership and Change. And here I thought on this bleeding edge of innovation and vertical development and shifting consciousness and perspective and like, oh, wow, there’s a whole lot of other People out there doing this work.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  20:03  

I think part of it is just how siloed everyone is in this work. Right? 


Mark Divine 20:07



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 20:07

You could come to the same conclusion and five different disciplines.


Mark Divine  20:11  

100% We need to talk to each other more, we saw of course with a pandemic is how you get siloed. And, you know, we don’t have conversations, and it could lead to problematic results. So back to perception, can you describe, like best practice or top tool for each one of those different ways of development? Prospection?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  20:32  

Yeah, absolutely. So we’ll start with phase one, a common error in the face of uncertainty is to go to the worst possible outcome. And we can do that very quickly without even realizing that it’s happened. And suddenly we accept with certainty that that worst outcome is where we’re going to be. So imagine 4pm, on a Friday afternoon, you get a message from your boss’s assistant, he or she needs to talk to you for 30, no context given. A lot of us have the automatic thought, I’m getting fired. 


Mark Divine 21:01



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 21:02

Even start clearing our desk and messaging our loved one. That’s a trap we have in doing that deprived ourselves of a really important moment of opportunistically thinking about all the possibilities, more realistically evaluating them. So part of the trick is slowing that down and retraining ourselves to say, okay, just thought of the worst possible outcome, what’s the best possible outcome? In that case, maybe there’s a windfall in the budget, and you’re getting raise, and they just found out and they need to close it out of the book. You know, there’s all kinds of very improbable positive things that could happen. And then what’s the most likely reason that your boss talks to people on late on a Friday afternoon. Probably a last minute work thing that’s come up or there have a family emergency and they need your help to cover some, there’s a million most likely reasons that are neither getting fired nor getting a raise. Painting those out really retraining yourself to see a more realistic distribution of what those outcomes could be. People who catastrophize a lot are at much greater risk for negative outcomes from uncertainty. And so this activity alone is something that some people need to do over and over and over and over again, and can be massively impactful and transforming how we think about what’s coming. 


Mark Divine 22:15



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 22:15

On the phase two side, I mentioned that sometimes that also can tend towards the pessimistic, there’s a lot of ways of retraining ourselves on phase two, which is again, about evaluation. And we want to be realistic. There’s a lot of great structures that can take you through goal planning and imagining obstacles and how you’re going to overcome them. I also think this is a phase where people who tend toward the pessimistic have to take a look at belief systems about pessimism. So some of us are pessimistic because we think that preparing for a negative outcome is going to somehow magically help us avoid it. There’s lots of reasons that are not quite conscious that we can tend toward the pessimistic. In reality, people who have greater optimism, see better outcomes across the board health wise, mental health, physical health, professionally. It’s not that they’re deluded about what’s going to happen. It’s that optimism motivates us to keep at it and to keep working. And so we are more likely to get to a better outcome when we’re optimistically motivated. Sometimes in the phase two, we need to allow ourselves to think more about those optimistic outcomes and really plan for those rather than just focusing the energy on mitigating the bad outcome.


Mark Divine  23:29  

Right. There’s so much great stuff there. If we are a catastrophizer, and we’re pessimistic seeing the negative outcomes, how do we override that? And then I also want to relate this to toxic positivity. You know, this is another one of those terms that has kind of popped up recently.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  23:46  

The answers are different to both, and I’ll go in order that you asked them but the overarching theme is anything worth having takes time to get, so on the how do you overcome a negative worldview pessimism. So first, you have to have insight into the fact that that’s a challenge for you, and that it’s different for you from other people, you know, just think everyone lives that way. Then you need the motivation around it. As I said, a lot of people have reasons to hold on to it. And even if they do an exercise or two, they’re not really committed to moving away from it. The motivation will come from different places for people. So some people, their pessimism has gotten them to a place of depression. And they realize they need to course correct. They need to actually remediate because they’re in an unhealthy place. Some people it’s just actually learning and the more you learn about the literature on optimism, it can really motivate you to say, okay, hey, I want to live longer. I want to have a healthier immune system. I want to see these better professional outcomes. So educating yourself on optimism if you’re just curious and you think maybe there’s something there you want to work on, pick up something like Learned Optimism by Marty Seligman, my co author, wonderful book with great science slightly more recent publication of his that has similar content, a whole chapter on optimism is called Flourish. Both are great resources to just start to educate yourself about why should I work on this? What am I going to get out of it? So once you have the insight and you’re motivated, then it’s really the work of cognitive behavioral change, noticing the thought patterns, challenging them, and doing it a different way. And we can do it on our own, a coach or therapist can be great to help you with that. And then there’s some online resources, I think, you know, the human support is still probably the most effective. But for people who are really motivated and understand the concepts, there’s no reason you can’t do it on your own. 


Mark Divine 25:41



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 25:41

When I hear about toxic positivity, it’s exactly what you said Mark, where it’s sort of a shallow positivity, where people know that underlying it is not that depth of authentic, positive feeling. That’s never been what positive psychology is about. And where things went a little bit awry was people also thought that beyond the end, all was happiness. So happiness is positive emotion. And that’s one of five ingredients of well being as defined by the early positive psychology people. It also included relationships, deep engagement with your work, a sense of achievement, a sense of meaning and purpose and mattering. Those don’t always come with positive emotions, relationships can be difficult. We can’t give each other a good life through sort of shallow compliments, or a meaningless smile. That I think is the real core of the issue of toxic positivity is relationships.


Mark Divine 26:36



Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 26:37

What is the quality of the relationships at work? And that is something everyone’s struggling with. But that is what I hear at the crux of that question.


Mark Divine  26:45  

I totally agree Brene Brown’s work comes to mind. And this idea that really powerful culture is one that doesn’t deny that someone’s having a bad day, or they’re serious issues going on in people’s lives. We are okay to have those conversations in a sensitive way in which it takes skill. Obviously. If a leader doesn’t have that skill, then they tend to avoid it. You know, I have this theory that the real limiting factor in the team is the leader who is unwilling to do this kind of deep work.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  27:09  

For sure. And we actually have a ton of data to show that resilient leaders have much more resilient teams and vice versa, much lower burnout, higher retention, higher innovation, this scale of the impact is kind of hard to leave. But then if you think about your own lived experience, and what it feels like to report to a manager who is struggling, it takes a toll on us. It really does. And it takes a toll on our ability to be resilient. 


Mark Divine  27:35  

Right. Wow, this has been a great conversation. I gotta wrap up soon here and let you go. But I want to help listeners understand really the difference between working with a therapist and working with a coach.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman 27:44



Mark Divine 27:45

You know, where is that overlap possible? And where is it really shouldn’t happen?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  27:49  

Such a great question. So therapists can treat clinical conditions, get reimbursement from insurance, etc. There’s a licensure process that they go through that is not dissimilar from what a doctor would go through. Therapists do also see high functioning people for non clinical purposes without insurance reimbursement. And that can look a lot like coaching. So it does get confusing. There are also therapists who have a separate shingle as a coach. So they’re the same person, but they’re also doing coaching. Now, on the flip side of it, coaches do not do clinical work, they do not treat clinical conditions. If they think someone’s at risk or something clinical, they might say something and try to help them seek help, that they’re not going to treat them themselves. They are wonderful resources for building personal and professional development skills. Even things like stress management and coping. So think of coaches as something that everyone can benefit from, and therapists as people with specialized skills for clinical conditions, who may also happen to be coaches.


Mark Divine  28:53  

Yeah, thank you for that. It’s very good description. On the therapist side, probably one of the most important things is to recognize the boundaries and to have that professional clarity. And then from the coaching perspective, there are so many coaches now who are getting trained in hypnotherapy and NLP and X, Y, and Z. And they’re doing therapy without being Professionally licensed. So I can see it, why it’d be really confusing for a lot of people.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  29:18  

Yeah, I think you want to do your homework on who you’re working with, make sure that they use evidence based practices, meaning they’re working with techniques that have been proven out to be effective, those will work, they will not waste your time. And the benefits have been proven and well studied as well as the safety of the methods that they’re using.


Mark Divine  29:38  

Right. I like that you do AI generated matchups, because my experience is I had to go through four different therapists before I finally found one that could work the EMDR and the different processes that are really going to be effective with me. It’s going to take some time to find a fit sometimes.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  29:52  

It can and that is something that can be hard to stick with if you’re in a tough place. That’s actually a big challenge and it’s one of the cases where technology can help us they’re trying to get better and better. To help finding the right person and an easier and more scientific process.


Mark Divine  30:09  

I could see that tool being really valuable to outsource or to white label to the coaching into the therapy profession. Revenue opportunity for you there. Okay, so last question. What’s your next major innovation push?


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  30:27  

Let’s see, there’s a few areas that I’m really interested in right now. I think at BetterUp one of the things that we’re constantly looking at is how do we more quickly build trust and relationships and rapport with our coach, with our colleagues, with our customers, and without saying too much, we’re doing a lot of AI work. Looking at that, that I’m hopeful will result in tools that can help all of us connect more quickly and more effectively together. On the personal side, I’m increasingly interested in how do we bring more of these wellbeing tools upstream, quote, unquote, to middle schoolers, elementary school, even even high school. There has been a push for some of it. But I think that we need more of a continuous mechanism of getting the latest science to the teachers who, you know, want to help kids build these skills for the rest of their lives. So it’s something I’m interested in trying to learn more about, see how I can help with that.


Mark Divine  31:24  

I love this idea of using technology to solve problems that the same technology created.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  31:30  

Oh, my gosh, isn’t that the truth?


Mark Divine  31:32  

Everything’s in balance, ultimately, I think in the world, so it’s great to see this. Well, thank you so much. Dr. Kellerman, I really appreciate your time. It’s fascinating. And I look forward to reading your book Tomorrow Mind, and we’ll put all the notes up on the podcast, and if there’s anything else we can do for you. Yeah, let us know.


Dr. Gabriella Rosen Kellerman  31:46  

Thank you so much.


Mark Divine  31:48  

What a fascinating discussion about the difference between coaching and therapy, and innovation in the healthcare space, how we’re using AI to create better connections and perspective and resilience and helping understand how to matter in the world. So really fascinating conversation with Dr. Kellerman. Thanks so much. You can find the show notes up at MarkDivine.com. You can find the video up on our YouTube channel. You can reach out to me on Twitter at Mark Divine and on Instagram and Facebook @ Real Mark Divine. Quick plug for my newsletter Divine Inspiration which comes out every Tuesday morning where I have show notes from the latest podcasts, my blog post, which I put out every week, other information that is really interesting that comes across my desk, including a book that I’m reading for the week, and a practice, go check it out. Go to MarkDivie.com to subscribe and sign up. Shout out to my terrific team of Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell and Catherine Divine, who helped produce this podcast and my newsletter, bringing incredible guests like Dr. Kellerman to you every week. Reviews and ratings are extremely helpful. So if you haven’t, and you have time, please consider doing so wherever you listen to this show. The world is changing fast. We’re in a VUCA, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous age of exponential change and chaos. And the way to navigate that is to train your body and mind to be stronger in every way. And to take control of that which you can control which is yourself. That’s what we do at SEALFIT. If you want to learn about our incredible programs, including our Mastermind and our Performance Challenge and other things that we do, go to SEALFIT.com and check it out. Till next time. This is your host Mark Divine. Hooyah!


Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai



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