In an old Greek myth, a host named Procrustes had a peculiar fetish for making his guests fit their bed at night. Instead of trying to “fit” a person’s needs into one school of therapy, I do my best to make sure my therapeutic approach fits a person’s needs. While my techniques are varied, my style does lean in one direction. I have a reputation among therapists for being extremely active and direct in the form of an “active advocacy”. Many clients have found themselves dissatisfied with prior therapists who have merely been passive and emotionally supportive. My style is more ambitious. The first thing I do is to help the person clarify goals and get an agreement about what we are trying to accomplish. From then on, I direct focus and energy toward whatever will be most helpful toward reaching those goals. Very often, a person’s history is relevant in understanding how certain emotions or beliefs became conditioned to their current state. However, I find that insight and understanding alone are usually insufficient to produce most emotional changes. To bring about changes in emotion or emotionally determined behavior, a well-designed plan of intervention is necessary. When I make recommendations for a course of intervention, I always explain the principles of psychology and emotion behind it.

In the course of therapy, I do a fair amount of personalized teaching. One way that I do rely on insight is to teach a person how to influence their emotions. Our emotions follow a somewhat different set of rules than ordinary behavior. Usually, we can immediately choose how we want to behave. With emotions, we can’t. Our feelings are learned in a different way than what we think of as ordinary learning. We learn to feel certain ways through either powerful or repetitive emotional experience. The technical term is called “conditioning.” My style of therapy has been influenced by my years of study of psychophysiology and how emotions are “conditioned.” My theoretical orientation incorporates Russian research on perception and conditioned reflexes as well as western research on the brain circuitry of attention, perception, emotions and learning. I have found that while our emotional conditioning can’t be immediately changed, it can be gradually altered if we learn to use the correct tools. Very effective therapists will use tools like these and people can make dramatic changes in their feelings. So the paradox is this: feelings can be changed but you just need to learn some new rules about how to influence them without trying to control them.

Bryce Kaye

Adjustment counseling & stress management

This type of therapy is the most simple and entails what people refer to as “counseling.” It usually involves a lot of teaching and prescribed exercises at home.  A significant part of counseling is to teach clients about human nature so that they have realistic expectations of themselves. Clients are often taught how to more effectively relax, how to fashion realistic goals from their own needs and desires, how to journal to promote emotional growth, how to compartmentalize grief, how to confront and replace automatic irrational beliefs, how to use autosuggestion for shifting emotions, how to manage situational cues to influence their emotional states, and many other self-management strategies. My style of counseling has a reputation for being very direct and friendly.

Marriage Counseling-Relationship Therapy

Many therapists employ a communication model for couples work that assumes that most couples’ problems derive from dysfunctional communication. The assumption seems to be that teaching better communication should resolve their difficulties. Unfortunately, most well-controlled studies show that only about one-third of the couples going through marital therapy are reporting significant post-treatment benefits after one year. After two years, the benefits shrink another 50 %. Those are not impressive statistics and they do not give much support for a simplistic communication therapy model. I find that a couple’s communication usually breaks down because of more complex emotional dynamics. Those dynamics can involve historical shame issues, personality deficits, knowledge deficits, and boundary interactions. These issues can be quite complex but are still understandable. Much of my couples work involves clarifying the emotional dynamics and then working with the couple to design a strategic intervention. The necessary intervention will depend upon the needs of the couple. My philosophy of treatment is to try the simplest feasible intervention first. When we’re lucky, we can be successful on the most superficial level through mere education. I’ve had some couples who merely needed 2 to 4 sessions to correct their problems. This might involve educating the couple regarding the care and feeding of emotional needs within a relationship. Assigning intimacy exercises would be a part of this type of intervention. Teaching skills for managing mood states and conflict strategies would still operate on the educational level. However, more time is usually needed, especially for learning conflict management strategies.. Three to 4 months is the norm for these types of cases.
What people don’t like to admit is that communication and affection frequently break down due to issues of personal incapacity. By personal incapacity I mean the inability of either individual to engage in certain mood states within their relationship. These emotional states include the following:

a) The ability to become curious about and to draw pleasure in exploring the mind of their partner. This constitutes the highest form of loving because the mind of each partner constitutes their truest self. When both partners love and relish each others minds, then both of them will feel “close.”

b) The ability to express their desire within the relationship for various forms of fun and pleasure. Unless this is happening, then one or more of the partners will feel “trapped” in the role of constant responsibility. They may even begin to state that “they don’t know who they are” anymore.

c) The ability to energetically confront their partner to prevent their partner’s desires from completely ruling their life and eclipsing their own desires. Unless this confrontation takes place, the feeling of being dominated will usually result in losing sexual desire for their partner and even possibly displacing it outside of the relationship in the form of an affair.

d) The ability to sooth themselves with a sense of higher emotional priority when their partners feel angry or hurt. Unless a partner has this capacity for momentarily switching to a higher emotional priority, they cannot approach risking c) or possibly b) if it might lead to conflict. They won’t be able to risk intimate exposure.

The model that I use for relationships is that both parties must have the emotional resources for dynamic balancing between the states of nurturance/connection and autonomy/self-reliance. Decades of work have shown me that the best model for predicting the quality of relationship is the dynamic balancing between these two emotional states.

When either individual lacks the emotional capacity to engage in any of the 4 emotional states above, then marital or relationship counseling needs to shift to a deeper level. This usually involves individual or group therapy to establish the missing capacity. Group therapy is useful in training in a “theory of mind” so that the individual can become more empathetic and curious about what their partner is experiencing. If a person’s background involves emotional trauma, then their anxiety may need to be reduced via EMDR therapy. Anxiety reduction may be necessary before they can relax enough to become sufficiently curious about their partner. When shame issues block a partner from expressing (or knowing) their desire, then individual hedonic inhibition therapy will be necessary for the individual to avoid feeling eclipsed in the relationship. If a person is blocked from using healthy anger in the form of assertiveness, then EMDR may be used to reduce their sense of helplessness. If a person is too fearful of feeling guilty about their partner’s anger or disappointment in any potential conflict, then conflict inoculation training may be necessary. And if a person fears their own rage in potential confrontations, then conflict inoculation training again is the likely requirement.  In other words, personal incapacity can take many forms. The necessary intervention can take many forms as well.

Healing emotional wounds (trauma resolution)

All too often, a person’s depression or anxiety is rooted in overwhelming emotional experiences that they are trying to forget.  These may involve recent experiences such as witnessing the sudden death of a loved one, a recent accident, threats or actual violence, disfigurement, etc. Trauma may also involve early life experiences such as abandonment, incest, physical or sexual abuse by care-givers. Whatever and whenever the cause, these emotional scars often do not go away merely with time.  The human brain imprints traumatic memory differently than it processes regular memory. Without proper treatment, traumatic memory can greatly reduce a person’s happiness for the rest of their life. Fortunately, there is now a very efficient and effective form of treatment for trauma known as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

EMDR is a more complicated form of psychotherapy than mere counseling.  It has been the most researched form of treatment for trauma and has been proven effective in many research studies. Both the American Psychological Association and the Defense Department find it an effective type of treatment. Researchers at Harvard have found that EMDR helps rewire trauma related memory in the brain. They found that post-treatment memories of trauma involve more parts of the brain than did the same memories before treatment. The result is that the trauma related emotional pain is greatly reduced or eliminated. It is common for EMDR to completely eliminate the pain of previously mind-shattering memories.  For more information on EMDR, you can visit the international website www.emdria.org.

In addition to receiving advanced training in EMDR, I am also certified for being proficient in EMDR from the EMDRIA International Association. I also employ some of my own technology based on my knowledge of psychophysiology. In addition to regular EMDR, I have recently developed developed a very advanced therapy that has shown even more rapid results among my clients than EMDR.  It’s called HRG (for Hypnotic Resource Grafting).

Raising self-esteem and reducing self-defeating shame (hedonic disinhibition)

Most people think that self-esteem is something that they earn in the form of confidence. Unfortunately, this is not usually true. Most often, self-esteem is based on unconscious schemas of felt deservingness or un-deservingness (core shame). These schemas are imprinted into our unconscious “implicit” memory systems during our early developmental years. After these schemas are imprinted, we cannot easily change them through prideful achievement alone. It’s like mixing gasoline and water. No matter how much gas you add, there’s always water at the bottom of the tank. Instead, a much more successful strategy is to “condition” the brain to switch its unconscious negative schemas to positive ones instead.

To understand the usefulness of this kind of treatment, it is important to first understand the prevalence and subtlety of what I call hedonic inhibition. Researchers have discovered how the brain learns to “turn off” wants and desires that are repeatedly or painfully frustrated. This process is known as “inhibition” and is neurologically based. When inhibition turns off positive wants and desires such as fun, pleasure, curiosity, closeness with others, etc., we can refer to this as “hedonic inhibition.” When hedonic inhibition occurs during childhood due to frustratingly unresponsive parents, a person will usually develop unconscious blocks that keep them from feeling or expressing their desires. The result is often that the person is set up for a life of chronic anxiety or depression. When such a person gets into a long-term relationship, they may have great difficulty either by becoming a workaholic and/or by being unable to negotiate for what they want. Some of these people begin to feel like a footnote on their partner’s life and express “I don’t know who I am anymore!” The effects of hedonic inhibition are subtle, varied, but powerful.  

Hedonic disinhinhibition is a treatment for removing the underlying emotional blocks to happiness in a person’s unconscious. My technique is largely based on an earlier form of treatment called DNMS (Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy). You can read about DNMS at its author’s website: www.dnmsinstitute.com . However, hedonic disinhibition treatment utilizes techniques based on psychophysiology to stimulate specific brain reflexes. Various hypnotic “processing heuristics” are used to stimulate new neural connections and to help the client switch from negative to positive emotion. When engaged in hedonic disinhibition treatment, the person is guided through a combination of memories, fantasies, and imaginary interactions with metaphorical images of self-parts. It is quite complicated but each step of the procedure is explained to most clients’ full satisfaction.

The results of hedonic disinhibition most often include reduced anxiety or depression and increased energy and interests. Unlike other forms of therapy that rely on conscious override of emotions, hedonic disinhibition results in more natural change. My clients frequently report that they discover themselves behaving differently without conscious effort. They find themselves comfortably handling certain situations without having to struggle with their previous anxiety. In other words, the change comes about naturally once their underlying blocks are removed.

Anger management & assertiveness training (conflict inoculation training)

Most anger management training relies on techniques for consciously over-riding or redirecting emotion. Conflict inoculation training is a therapy that deals with the unconscious source of the problem instead. Ironically, the origin of uncontrollable rage as well as anger phobia and paralysis in conflict are usually the same. In both, the person is usually trying to avoid feeling a shame-based emotional state within themselves. The strategy of defense is different but the underlying deficits are the same. Conflict inoculation training is a way of conditioning in new emotions to “mellow” the anxiety that typically drives rage and allow the person to think and behave in a more balanced way during conflict.
The early steps in conflict inoculation training are the same as for hedonic disinhibition work. Positive emotions from the person’s best memories about themselves are used to wire together a memory network of very positive feelings. These positive feelings are then used to build metaphorical images of self-parts with which the client can interact in scripted hypnotic fantasies. These metaphorical self-parts are referred to as “resources.” Once a person’s resources are consolidated, then the person is taught to practice using them against worst case target memories involving conflict. Certain “eidetic” cognitive techniques are used so that the client’s unconscious shame-based emotional state is activated while he/she calms through the help of their resources. After enough practice in the office, the client can often continue the majority of their remaining practice sessions at home. When the treatment is complete, the person’s emotions during conflict are greatly changed.  Clients often report that they no longer feel the “need” to rage or be violent. They often report that it’s as if “the button is no longer connected.” For clients who have been conflict phobic, they “discover” that they naturally speak out their mind instead of hiding their thoughts because of fearing potential conflict.

I encourage you to compare all this information with the writings of other therapists to ensure that your choice reflects the best fit for you.