Coherence Therapy is a unified set of methods and concepts for mental healing that foster profound change with a high level of consistency.
“In short, we had stopped treating the symptom like the work of a demon whom we were trying to drive out of the client’s life. We had focused instead solely on learning from the client why their depression, panic attacks, stormy relationships or obsessions were somehow necessary — what unconscious benefit these seemingly nefarious symptoms served. We were fascinated to find that by focusing therapy in this way from the first session, we could get powerful results swiftly and reliably.” – Ecker & Hulley
- “[It] makes use of native capacities for swiftly retrieving and then transforming unconscious, symptom-requiring emotional schemas, which were learned adaptively earlier in life.”
- There is overwhelming evidence that the purpose of memory lies in predicting the future, not remembering the past.
- The schemas that drive many mental problems are situated in emotional memory, a memory system that’s inaccessible through rationalization, willpower, or logic. Emotional memory isn’t “remembered” as much as it is “embodied”. Direct experience is the only known way to access it.
- For nearly a century, emotional memory was thought to be unchangeable. As such, a majority of therapy modalities focus merely on controlling, suppressing, or sidestepping symptoms in some way.
- Studies from the early 2000s have found a previously unknown type of neuroplasticity called memory reconsolidation: “the only known neural mechanism that allows long-ingrained, learned behavioral and emotional reactions actually to be fundamentally unlearned and ‘erased’.”
- Successful memory reconsolidation is unambiguously verified by three markers, which are consistently produced by the Coherence Therapy framework:
- “Non-reactivation. A specific emotional reaction can no longer be reactivated by cues and triggers that formerly did so or by other stressful situations.”
- “Symptom cessation. Patterns of behavior, emotion, somatics, or thought that were expressions of that emotional reaction also disappear permanently.”
- “Effortless permanence. Non-recurrence of the emotional reaction and symptoms continues effortlessly and without counteractive or preventive measures of any kind.”
- In this method, the client is supported in experiencing “the ‘part’ of themselves that requires the symptom, because that’s the part that actually has control over it, while other ‘parts’ that want to be rid of the symptom are ineffective in influencing it in a decisive and lasting way.”
- The goal is to “develop routine, daily awareness of the previously unrecognized themes, dilemmas and solutions.” This is done in an experiential way, not merely as an intellectual exercise. A wide variety of “coherence-friendly” methods can be used for this.
- Experiential awareness, by itself, can often be transformative. If not, a “prediction error” experience is needed. The client finds a new schema that feels equally as true as the old one while being so incompatible that both can’t be true at the same time. The brain automatically dissolves the old schema to resolve the conflict.
Coherence Therapy is one of the main modalities we draw on at Attachment Repair. Here is a list of meditations that use its principles more explicitly.
Direct quotes in italics, otherwise paraphrased from:
- Hawkins, J., & Blakeslee, S. (2004). On intelligence. Macmillan.
- Hohwy, J. (2013). The predictive mind. Oxford University Press.
- Ecker, B., Ticic, R., & Hulley, L. (2012). Unlocking the emotional brain: Eliminating symptoms at their roots using memory reconsolidation. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Ecker, B. (2015). Memory reconsolidation understood and misunderstood. International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 3(1), 2-46.