We talk to Bruce Ecker who is a leading figure in the application of memory reconsolidation knowledge in psychotherapy for transformational change.
This week we talk to Bruce Ecker, MA, LMFT, who is the co-originator of Coherence Therapy and co-author of the groundbreaking book Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation; as well as other titles such as the Coherence Therapy Practice Manual & Training Guide; and Depth Oriented Brief Therapy: How To Be Brief When You Were Trained To Be Deep and Vice Versa.
Clarifying how transformational change takes place is the central theme of Bruce Ecker’s clinical career, and he has contributed many innovations in concepts and methods of experiential psychotherapy. Since 2006 he has driven the clinical field’s recognition of memory reconsolidation as the core process of transformational change and has developed the application of this brain research breakthrough to advancements in therapeutic effectiveness and psychotherapy integration.
We were fortunate to catch up with Bruce and ask him about memory reconsolidation and learn how fundamental it is to tranformational change.
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The Coherence Psychology Institute
Coherence Therapy Learning resources
Bruce Ecker’s articles on The Neuropsychotherapist
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Loved the talk, love Ecker and Hulley’s work. I have a concern or maybe I should say I am curious about how Bruce phrases the dissolving of an emotional learning. It seems to me that instead of thinking of it as dissolving a learning , because as Bruce points out the person can still remember the target learning, it may be better to think of it as rendering the learning as emotionally none reactive. It is still there the learning but it no longer causes a response, a reaction, it is no longer reactive. If that is valid to say then it might be possible that when an emotional learning has been rendered inactive that under just the right conditions the emotional learning can be reinstated, can become reactive again. I don’t know if what I am suggesting has any merit, any validity. It is what jumps out at me when considering the topic.
Hi Joel. So glad you loved the talk! It is true that the autobiographical memory remains intact but a more adaptive emotional response is reconsolidated with that memory (I don’t think it has to be non-reactive, it might be reconsodidated to be emotionally reactive in a different way, hopefully a positive way). The bedrock is the reappraisal of the fundamental meaning of what went on and the automatic emotional response that followed. If the fundamental meaning is seen in a different light then naturally the cascading emotional response will be different. For example if I encounter a rather disengaged and what I would consider rude colleague at a conference, when I was trying to explain my latest theory to him, and I come away offended and thinking rather poorly of him (and everything I used to think about the man is now tainted by my emotional response). Then the next day I’m back at the conference confiding with my friend about “disengaged and rude Bob” and my rather diminished view of Bob (or probably my wounded pride because he seemed so disinterested in my brilliant ideas) – the emotional memory is very much alive in that moment – then my friend stops me and says “Didn’t you know?… Bob lost his wife last week… I’m amazed he even came to the conference.” Suddenly my appraisal of Bob shifts (in complete juxtaposition to my existing emotional appraisal of Bob) and I’m moved with compassion. Poor Bob, here I was talking about my stupid ideas and he’s probably dealing with a world of pain I have no idea about. Shift – reconsolidation – new emotional response pinned to the autobiographical memory of yesterday when I was with Bob.