Can You Rewire Your Brain to Change Bad Habits, Thoughts, and Feelings?
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That question opened the door to a chamber of implicit meanings, and Raoul now recognized that his angry quest for justice was actually his desperate attempt to preserve the innocent, uncompromised world he’d experienced as a boy. With this dilemma in mind, the therapist commented empathetically, “So, for you, the existence of this bad person has the power to nullify all the good that you also know exists.” Raoul’s mismatch detector immediately swung into action on his revealed schema, lighting up his own contradictory knowledge and creating juxtaposition experiences. He soon arrived at a new, more nuanced model of the world. As Raoul put it, the world “contains lots of good and some bad.” He no longer needed to be an angry seeker of justice and accountability. In his last session, he announced that his wife, with great affection and gratitude, had offered the final verdict on his healing journey: “The man I married is finally back!”
Of course, neuroscience has yet to magically transform psychotherapy, making all that was opaque, hidden, and out of control now clear, open, and well regulated. So after years of fascination and even infatuation with brain science, it’s understandable that some therapists have grown a bit disillusioned with the whole subject.
Yet a new wave of neuroscience centered on memory reconsolidation offers us specific knowledge of the steps through which people change their subcortical minds deeply and transformationally, altering their understanding of how the world functions, what their most intimate relationships mean to them, and how to expand their ability to respond flexibly to life’s challenges.
What we’ve observed in our work demonstrates how the discoveries of brain science can help us create liberating breakthroughs for our clients more consistently than was ever thought possible. We may even find that memory reconsolidation is a core process detectable in all therapies that regularly yield transformational change, as our own examinations of published case examples is indicating. While neuroscience may speak in an esoteric, polysyllabic language, it’s offered us a profound new understanding of how to alleviate some of the oldest forms of human suffering. In the future, it will surely tell us a great deal more.
Bruce Ecker, M.A., L.M.F.T., is codirector of the Coherence Psychology Institute and coauthor with Laurel Hulley, M.A., of Depth Oriented Brief Therapy: How To Be Brief When You Were Trained To Be Deep, and Vice Versa. Ecker and Hulley are the originators of Coherence Therapy and coauthors with Robin Ticic ofUnlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation. Contact: email@example.com.
Robin Ticic, B.A., H.P. Psychotherapy (Germany), is the Coherence Psychology Institute’s director of training, a trauma therapist associated with the University of Cologne, and author of How to Connect with Your Child. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurel Hulley, M.A., is the Coherence Psychology Institute’s director of paradigm development, cofounder of the Julia Morgan Middle School for Girls in Oakland, California, and coauthor with Bruce Ecker of the Coherence Therapy Practice Manual & Training Guide.
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