What is Coherence Therapy?


Coherence Therapy is a form of Psychotherapy, developed around the theory that symptoms of certain behaviours, moods and thoughts, are produced coherently. These symptoms are according to one’s mental constructs and schemas of one’s own reality.


The basis of coherence therapy is that one’s symptoms are viewed as activating these constructs and ideas. These seemingly disordered, irrational symptoms are in fact understood by the therapist as sensible, practical expressions of one’s own view of reality.


These structures of reality are viewed as implicit and largely unconscious. When an individual resists change, it is usually seen as a defence for the individual’s unconscious world-view.


The aim of Coherence Therapy is for an individual to experience the emotions associated directly with these unconscious schemas or mental constructs and gain awareness of the symptoms and explicit reactions they produce in day-to-day life.


The client may then undergo a process whereby they reflect on these constructs until they are gradually eliminated.


This process is regarded as experiential and many relate it to Gestalt Therapy and other forms of non-analytic therapies.


How was Coherence Therapy developed?


Coherence Therapy (originally known as depth-oriented brief therapy or DOBT), is a talking therapy developed from Psychotherapy and was first founded by L. Hulley & B. Ecker in the 1980s an early 1990s. It is a widely used and is one of the most highly regarded constructivist therapies.


The idea came about when Ecker & Hulley noticed a pattern during a number of Psychotherapy sessions. This pattern was that there were certain sessions which produced mile-stone realisations, moments of clarity and transformations for the clients. These transformative sessions often lead to complete alleviation of the explicit symptoms.


After much investigation into these therapy sessions, they concluded that a process of non-intervention by the therapist was taking place to facilitate these moments of clarity for the client. In other words, the therapists were neither encouraging or discouraging the explicit symptom during the session. The client would thus go on to experience a realisation or “emotional truth” that they were previously unaware of.

In order to create a fixe process for Coherence Therapy sessions, Ecker and Hulley devised specific methodologies.


Their results show that many individuals awareness of some previously unrecognised views of reality within the first session, using their new procedures which aimed to swiftly reflect on schemas and implicit structures.


In addition to this process, they also developed a way of changing the realised schemas being that the structure or schema must be activated while the client imagines something in sharp contrast to it.


There has been neuroscientific research to show that these steps are exactly related to the unlocking and deletion of neural networks in emotional memory reconsolidation.


Organisation of constructs


Ecker and Hulley developed a hierarchy of several constructs used as a tool to determine an individual’s logical view of reality:


First Order:

This relates to a person’s explicit or open responses. Their feelings, behaviours and thoughts


Second Order:

This is the person’s particular meaning associated with a clear view of the situation to which they are responding.

Third Order:


Consists of more general reasons and strategies for producing that specific meaning. This is also known as Teleology.


Fourth Order:


This relates to the person’s general view of the self, other and world also known as Ontology.


The Fifth Order


This order shows the strategies and reasoning for the person developing this general meaning of the self, other and world.

Processes beyond the third order are known as the ‘emotional truths of the symptoms’. These are the meanings, strategies and processes known to facilitate breakthroughs, transformations and moments of clarity in Coherence Therapy.


Make an Appointment


If you would like to book an initial session for Coherence Therapy, please select a therapist from our search facility to find a practitioner in your area. You can also select from our list of recommended Coherence therapists on the right-hand side of this page. Once you have chosen a therapist, please click 'Make an Appointment' to request a suitable appointment time. Your chosen therapist will then confirm your appointment, or offer you another appointment time directly by phone or email. If you have any questions, please email our dedicated therapy support team at support@uktherapyguide.com for further assistance.