Coherence Therapy

The art & science of lasting change



Note: Coherence Therapy was known as Depth Oriented Brief Therapy prior to 2005




Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation

by Bruce Ecker, Robin Ticic & Laurel Hulley
New York: Routledge (2012).

            A therapist's guide to utilizing memory reconsolidation, the brain's built-in process of transformational change. Identifies how this process occurs in a range of very different-seeming therapies—such as AEDP, Coherence Therapy, EMDR, EFT and IPNB—and shows how memory reconsolidation is poised to create four breakthroughs in the psychotherapy field: enhanced effectiveness, a unified understanding of diverse therapies of deep, lasting change, clarification of the role of attachment in therapy, and an empirical disconfirmation of nonspecific common factors theory.    More information»


Coherence Therapy Practice Manual & Training Guide

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

Oakland, CA: Coherence Psychology Institute (2011).

            This 86-page manual incorporates many detailed features of practice, principles, training exercises and troubleshooting guides that are not available in any other publication. Table of contents and ordering information»


Depth Oriented Brief Therapy: How To Be Brief When You Were Trained To Be Deep, and Vice Versa

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (1996).

            A nuanced guide to DOBT/Coherence Therapy with many case examples illustrating the techniques, the methodological principles, and the constructivist conceptual framework of this approach applied with individuals, couples and families.    More information»

Book Chapters


Coherence Therapy: The roots of problems and the transformation of old solutions
by Sara K. Bridges

In H. E. A. Tinsley, S. H. Lease & N. S. Giffin Wiersma, Contemporary Theory and Practice in Counseling and Psychotherapy (pp. 353-380). Thousand Oaks, California & London, UK: Sage Publications (2015).

            An engaging account of Coherence Therapy and its use of memory reconsolidation, in a graduate clinical anthology that surveys thirteen major systems of psychotherapy. To view the book on, click here.


Overt statements for deep work in grief therapy -- by Bruce Ecker

In R. A. Neimeyer (Ed.), Techniques of grief therapy (pp. 152-154). New York: Routledge (2012).

            Illustrates how a simple experiential technique often used in Coherence Therapy was applied to access the hidden, coherent core of a tenacious, complicated bereavement.


Coherence therapy: Swift change at the core of symptom production -- by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

In J. D. Raskin & S. K. Bridges (Eds.), Studies in Meaning 3. New York: Pace University Press (2008).

            A study of a single session for a woman’s 20-year compulsive overeating and weight problem illustrates Coherence Therapy facilitating a deep resolution of attachment wounds. The neurobiological correlates of the process are also described.


Depth oriented brief therapy: Accelerated accessing of the coherent unconscious

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley.  In J. Carlson & L. Sperry (Eds.), Brief therapy with individuals and couples (pp. 161-190). Phoenix: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen (2000).

            A delineation of the methodology and principles of DOBT/Coherence Therapy, specific techniques for implementing this methodology, and detailed case examples from individual therapy for underachieving and low self-esteem and couple therapy for chronic power struggles.


The order in clinical “disorder”: Symptom coherence in depth oriented brief therapy

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley.  In R. A. Neimeyer & J. Raskin (Eds.), Constructions of disorder (pp. 63-89). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press (2000).

            Four case examples of anxiety and panic are used to show that symptoms diagnosed as “disorder” in standard psychiatric taxonomy are produced by the same coherent pattern of unconscious self-organization as in non-symptomatic psychological process. The rapid accessibility and resolvability of symptoms’ unconscious emotional basis is also demonstrated.


Postmodern approaches to psychotherapy -- by Robert A. Neimeyer & Sara K. Bridges

In A. S Gurman,. & S. B. Messer (Eds.), Essential psychotherapies, 2nd Ed. (pp. 272-316). New York: Guilford (2003).

            Includes an examination of DOBT (Coherence Therapy) in the context of a wide range of postmodern psychotherapies.


Varieties of constructivism in psychotherapy -- by Robert A. Neimeyer & Jonathan D. Raskin

In K. S. Dobson (Ed.), Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (pp. 407-411). New York: Guilford (2001).

            Includes an examination of DOBT (Coherence Therapy) in the context of a wide range of other constructivist psychotherapies.


Journal Articles (Peer Reviewed)


Memory reconsolidation understood and misunderstood

by Bruce Ecker

International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 3(1), 2-46 (2015). doi:10.12744/ijnpt.2015.0002-0046

            Abstract:  Memory reconsolidation is the brain's natural, neural process that can produce transformational change:  the full, permanent elimination of an acquired behavior or emotional response.  This article identifies and examines 10 common misconceptions regarding memory reconsolidation research findings and their translation into clinical practice.  The research findings are poised to drive significant advancements in both the theory and practice of psychotherapy, but these benefits depend on an accurate understanding of how memory reconsolidation functions, and misconceptions have been proliferating.  This article also proposes a unified model of reconsolidation and extinction phenomena based on the brain’s well-established requirement of memory mismatch (prediction error) for reconsolidation to be triggered.  A reinterpretation of numerous studies published without reference to the mismatch requirement shows how the mismatch requirement and mismatch relativity (MRMR) model can account for diverse empirical findings, reveal unrecognized dynamics of memory change, and generate predictions testable by further research.  Download reprint»


Minding the findings:  Let's not miss the message of memory reconsolidation research for psychotherapy -- by Bruce Ecker, Laurel Hulley and Robin Ticic

Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, 24, e7 (2015). doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000168

            This short commentary article urges close attention to what the research tells us about how memory reconsolidation functions, rather than construing reconsolidation in terms of familiar, pre-existing models of psychotherapy.  The role of emotion in the reconsolidation process is the specific focus here, with a research-based critique of the mistaken view that "changing emotion with emotion" is how reconsolidation produces therapeutic change.   Download reprint»


Coherence therapy as a synthesis of conclusions from constructivist clinical practice and
neuroscience discoveries -- by Michał Jasiński

Psychoterapia, 4 (171), 13-24 (2014).

            This open-access article is in Polish. Abstract: This article presents features of a recent constructivist approach, coherence therapy, formerly known as depth-oriented brief therapy. Constructivism—the epistemology that informs it—is described briefly with its influence on psychotherapy. Coherence therapy's convergence with a crucial neuroscientific discovery of memory reconsolidation is thoroughly discussed and the implications of this convergence for psychotherapy are suggested. Coherence therapy's process is described and a new possible framework of integration in the field of psychotherapy is suggested. Download reprint»


Competing visions of the implications of neuroscience for psychotherapy

by Brian Toomey & Bruce Ecker

Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 22, 95-140 (2009). doi:10.1080/10720530802675748

            This third and final article of the series considers three current, influential interpretations of the implications of neuroscience for psychotherapy: pharmacological treatment, reparative attachment therapy, and the cognitive regulation of emotion and behavior. On the basis of efficacy data and neuroscientific research, it is concluded that each of the three interpretations implements only part of the brain’s known capabilities for change, and that fuller use of these capabilities occurs through a therapeutic strategy of selective depotentiation of implicit memory, as epitomized by coherence therapy.  Download reprint»


Depotentiation of symptom-producing implicit memory in coherence therapy

by Bruce Ecker & Brian Toomey

Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 21, 87-150 (2008). doi:10.1080/10720530701853685

            This second of three articles describes how coherence therapy operates both experientially and synaptically. Particular attention is given to the neural basis for coherence therapy’s purported ability to produce a profound depotentiation of long-term, symptom-generating constructs in implicit memory. It is proposed that coherence therapy achieves transformative change by inducing the reconsolidation of memory, a recently discovered, potent form of neuroplasticity, and evidence is presented for this hypothesis. A fundamental distinction is made on neuroscientific grounds between transformative change, which permanently eliminates symptom-generating constructs and neural circuits, and counteractive change, which creates new constructs and circuits that compete against the symptom-generating ones and is inherently susceptible to relapse.   Download reprint»


Of neurons and knowings: Constructivism, coherence psychology and their neurodynamic substrates

by Brian Toomey & Bruce Ecker

Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 20, 201-245 (2007). doi:10.1080/10720530701347860

            This first of a set of three articles examines the neuroscientific support for coherence therapy’s model of symptom production—a model centering on unconscious knowledge structures in implicit memory.
Download reprint»


Articles on Memory Reconsolidation in Psychotherapy


Memory reconsolidation understood and misunderstood -- by Bruce Ecker

International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 3(1), 2-46 (2015). doi:10.12744/ijnpt.2015.0002-0046



Psychotherapy's mysterious efficacy ceiling:  Is memory reconsolidation the breakthrough?
by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist, 16, 6-24 (2015).  doi: 10.12744/tnpt(16)006-024

            This article is an edited transcript of Bruce Ecker's provocative, paradigm-defining 2006 keynote address given at the University of California, San Marcos, to psychologists and doctoral students at the 12th Biennial Conference of the Constructivist Psychology Network.  This is the pivotal moment when memory reconsolidation—the discovery of which had been established by brain researchers six years earlier—was recognized to be a disconfirmation of nonspecific common factors theory and a process of change that transcends the 70-year history of equal efficacy measured across all tested psychotherapies.    Download»


Understanding memory reconsolidation -- by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist, 10, pp. 4-22 (January 2015). doi:10.12744/tnpt(10)004-022

            Three common misconceptions of memory reconsolidation are identified and clarified in this article (which is an excerpt and adaptation of a longer article covering ten misconceptions, titled "Memory Reconsolidation Understood and Misunderstood," in the International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy). The discussion delves into both laboratory studies and clinical use of reconsolidation.    Download»


Deep release for body and soul: Memory reconsolidation and the Alexander technique
by Robin Ticic and Elise Kushner

The Neuropsychotherapist, 10, pp. 24-28 (January 2015). doi:10.12744/tnpt(10)024-028

            How the Alexander Technique, a system of body work, can carry out the therapeutic reconsolidation process is illustrated in a case vignette involving a cluster of post-traumatic symptoms.    Download»


Using NLP for memory reconsolidation: A glimpse of integrating the panoply of psychotherapies
by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist, 10, pp. 50-56 (January 2015). doi:10.12744/tnpt(10)050-056

            A case example of PTSD illustrates how the therapeutic reconsolidation process can serve as a therapist's master map that unifies the kaleidoscopic array of different therapy systems into a rich repertoire of choices for guiding the brain's core process of transformational change. In this case, one of the main techniques of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is chosen. How it brings about reconsolidation and erases the client's traumatic learning is described in detail.    Download»


Annals of memory reconsolidation: Lagging accounts cause confusion -- by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist (2014, July 14).

            A look at the current state of disarray in the dissemination of research findings on memory reconsolidation. The findings are clear, but why are some researchers stuck at an earlier, incorrect interpretation and feeding it to the media?


Remembering in order to forget -- by Paul Sibson and Robin Ticic

Therapy Today, 25 (2), pp. 26-29 (March 2014).

            This article—published in Therapy Today, the monthly journal of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)—acquaints readers with memory reconsolidation, describing it as the "engine of change" within diverse forms of psychotherapy and a universal, theory-independent process. The case example addresses a woman's "paralyzing inability to move out from her mother's home, despite a conscious, desperate desire to do so." Visit to read more articles. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 2014.
Download reprint»


Unlocking the emotional brain:  Is memory reconsolidation the key to transformation?
by Bruce Ecker, Robin Ticic and Laurel Hulley

Psychotherapy Networker, 37 (4), pp. 18-25, 46-47 (July 2013).

            An introduction to memory reconsolidation and how its use in therapy puts therapists in control of more consistently facilitating deep, liberating change. Illustrated with case examples of Coherence Therapy. Adapted from the book, Unlocking the Emotional Brain, listed above.    Download reprint»


Nonspecific common factors theory meets memory reconsolidation: A game-changing encounter?
by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist, 2, pp. 134-137 (July 2013).

            A concise statement of the inescapable implications of memory reconsolidation research, disconfirming a widely accepted theory and providing a new explanation of why 75 years of psychotherapy efficacy measurements have kept hitting the same ceiling.   Go»


A primer on memory reconsolidation and its psychotherapeutic use as a core process of profound change -- by Bruce Ecker, Robin Ticic and Laurel Hulley

The Neuropsychotherapist, 1, pp. 82-99 (April 2013).

            An introductory account adapted from the book, Unlocking the Emotional Brain, listed above. Illustrated with a case example of Coherence Therapy.   Download reprint»


The coming breakthrough in the mental health field -- by Bruce Ecker

The Neuropsychotherapist (posted March 4, 2013).

            Spells out four major ways in which memory reconsolidation will revolutionize the field of psychotherapy as understanding and use of it spreads through the clinical field.   Download reprint»


Reconsolidation: A universal, integrative framework for highly effective psychotherapy
by Bruce Ecker blog (posted January 13, 2011).

            A short introduction to memory reconsolidation, how it works, and why it ushers the psychotherapy field into a new era of greatly enhanced effectiveness and a unified understanding of how diverse forms of therapy bring about deep, lasting change.   Go»


The brain's rules for change: Translating cutting-edge neuroscience into practice -- by Bruce Ecker

Psychotherapy Networker, 34 (1), pp. 43-45, 60 (Jan-Feb 2010).

            Describes how therapists can utilize memory reconsolidation, the brain’s built-in process for actually unwiring and deleting an unwanted emotional response learned earlier in life. Read about how the steps of the process were first identified clinically in the development of Coherence Therapy in the early 1990s, and subsequently were discovered independently by neuroscientists using very different methods. A case example of Coherence Therapy illustrates the art that implements the science.   Download reprint»


Unlocking the emotional brain: Finding the neural key to transformation -- by Bruce Ecker

Psychotherapy Networker, 32 (5), pp. 42-47, 60 (Sept-Oct 2008).

            An easy-reading account of a major recent discovery in neuroscience -- the process of memory reconsolidation that can actually rewrite the neural memory circuits maintaining a specific, learned emotional response, for deep, lasting change that dispels clients’ symptoms at their emotional roots. A case example shows how the process is guided in Coherence Therapy.  Download reprint»


Other Articles on Therapeutic Process


The hidden logic of anxiety: Look for the emotional truth behind the symptom -- by Bruce Ecker

Psychotherapy Networker, 27 (6), pp. 38-43, 58 (Nov-Dec 2003).

            Four case examples show that when the unconscious basis of anxiety and panic symptoms is brought to light, a deep sense and coherence is found, and that effective methods of transformation embrace rather than try to counteract these underlying emotional truths.  Download reprint»


Coherence Therapy toolkit for focused, in-depth effectiveness (revised edition)

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

Originally published in New Therapist, 20, 24-29 (July-Aug 2002).

            A long history of severe panic attacks comes to a surprisingly fruitful end in five sessions that show the main features of Coherence Therapy in action.  Download text-only edition»


Deep from the start: Profound change in brief therapy -- by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

Psychotherapy Networker, 26 (1), pp. 46-51, 64 (Jan-Feb 2002).

            An introduction to Coherence Therapy/DOBT demonstrating its use in dispelling a woman's lifelong "black cloud" of depression, stagnation, low self-esteem and family issues.  Download reprint»


A new zone of effectiveness for psychotherapy -- by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

New Therapist, 6, 31-33 (2000).

            Describes the emergence of a new paradigm of psychotherapy in the 1990s, allowing far swifter in-depth effectiveness and accuracy than has been assumed possible in the field. Defines the constructivist paradigm of coherence, contrasts it with the disorder paradigm shaping most therapeutic modalities throughout the 20th century, and indicates modalities of therapy that can implement the coherence approach.  Available online»


DOBT: Insights in a small space -- by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

Family Therapy News, 29 (7), 27-28 (1999).

            A case study of couples therapy in which DOBT/Coherence Therapy is applied to loss of sexual desire, weight problems, and the struggle of a logic-based man and a feelings-based woman to communicate.


Briefer and deeper: Addressing the unconscious in short-term treatment

by Bruce Ecker & Laurel Hulley

Family Therapy Networker, 22 (1), 75-83 (1998). Republished in: R. Simon, L. Markowitz, C. Barrilleaux, & B. Topping (Eds.) (1999). The art of psychotherapy: Case studies from the Family Therapy Networker (pp. 32-41). New York: Wiley.

            A close look at a single session of depth oriented brief therapy with a couple in chronic conflict, illustrating how focusing the work directly into the unconscious emotional basis of the problem can be the very means of making therapy brief.