On this episode of The Evidence Based Therapist, Bridger and Caleb continue to discuss the understood and misunderstood within memory reconsolidation.

Season 2 Articles

Misconception 4: Anxiety, phobias, and PTSD are the symptoms that memory reconsolidation could help to dispel in psychotherapy, but more research must be done before it is clear how reconsolidation can be utilized clinically.

  • Speaks to the desire of clinicians to alleviate client suffering
  • When working to alleviate anxiety, phobias, or PTSD, we’re attacking fear.
  • Fear is one of those most inherently inhibitory experiences, behaviorally and affectively.
  • Secondary learning processes can branch out, and from a system of fear, can create templates for seeking certain rewards from a place of fear avoidance.
  • So to chase these behaviors, we’ll only find external or imagined sources of fear.
  • These are not the beginning of this emotional learning or its associated behavioral activation sequence.
  • Rather, they are secondary processes
  • If true character change is happening, then it is the result of the reconsolidation process.

Misconception 5: Emotional arousal is inherently necessary for inducing the reconsolidation process.

  • Simply because someone is emotionally expressive doesn’t mean memory reconsolidation is happening
  • Only what’s approachable through the reconsolidated process is inherently emotional.
  • What if I don’t perceive my initial learnings as emotional? What if they weren’t?
  • By accessing the story that reinforces the state that is perpetually augmenting itself over and over, we can change the state.
  • Because story follows state follows the story.
  • To be clear, we aren’t working in a top-down way.
  • Consider the dismissive client who doesn’t appear to be emotional.
  • If you hold this misconception, you’ll beat your head against the wall trying to elicit some type of emotional reaction.
  • But remember, to experience a distorted affect is overwhelming.
  • So, with the intention of reconsolidation, to try and elicit an emotional reaction is triggering the very defense mechanism that you’re trying to change.
  • Leaving you unable to reconsolidate the network.
  • After you go through memory reconsolidation with an implicit emotional learning network, an opening of an affective experience occurs. 
  • Then, emotions can be experienced in ways that were previously inhibited or fired in a distorted way.
  • This happens after reconsolidation because the brain is reconsolidating the inhibitory or distorted networks, not the affect. 

Misconception 6: What is erased in therapy is the negative emotion that became associated with certain event memories, and this negative emotion is erased by inducing positive emotional responses to replace it. 

  • Emotions are not good or bad, they just are.
  • Therapists may want to rush in and target shame 
  • But shame is an emergent process from what actually happened (the target learning).
  • It’s impossible to erase “negative” emotions
  • Reconsolidation is changing an old model with a new model
  • And that has a phenomenological experience in therapy.
  • Emotions then change the derivative effect of the models, rules, and meanings that are attributed to the sensory experience.
  • Caleb gives an example (59:49)

Practical Meaning

  • None of this is simple
  • It helps to answer questions like ‘what is that we really need to shift our attention to? What is your (the client) system trying to be aware of?’
  • Caleb’s understanding (01:02:26)
  • Bridger’s understanding (01:06:27)





Did you know?  After full completion of Beyond Healing Institute’s Somatic Integration and Processing training, each participant can receive 21 NBCC hours. 

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  • https://www.patreon.com/BurntOutEducator
  • 100% of the proceeds donated to the Burntout Educator will provide therapy for a child in the public school system
  • Not therapy capped at a certain number, but an open-ended relationship with a highly qualified therapist in the BHC network. 

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Executive Directors: Jennifer and Ryan Savage, Melissa Bentinnedi, Bridger Falkenstein
Hosts: Caleb Boston, Bridger Falkenstein and Melissa Benintendi
Filmographer: Tyler Wassam
Podcast Producer: Bridger Falkenstien
Podcast Editor: Jamie Eggert
Original Music Composers: Bridger Falkenstein and Caleb Boston