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Rooted in Science

70 years of research, 30 years of development

A New Approach to Men's Mental Health

Rooted in Decades of Research

In recent years, the conversation around men’s mental health has gained significant momentum, leading to the emergence of a new methodology designed to address this often-overlooked issue. The MELD method is an innovative approach that integrates over five decades of research from some of the leading researchers and clinicians in the field.

Understanding the MELD Method: A Science-Based Approach

MELD stands out for its utilization of contemporary research in stress management, trauma resolution, polyvagal theory, and attachment theory. This approach is unique in its focus on using physiological responses as a tool for emotional and mental well-being rather than viewing them as obstacles. This perspective is based on the pioneering work of experts like Stephen Porges, Ph.D., known for his Polyvagal Theory, Peter Levine, Ph.D., a leader in trauma therapy, Sue Johnson, Ph.D., an attachment theory specialist, and Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy.

Beyond Stereotypes: Addressing Men’s Mental Health Differently

The MELD method challenges traditional notions of masculinity and mental health. It recognizes that societal expectations and personal traumas can lead men to develop coping mechanisms that may be effective in the short term but detrimental in the long term. By addressing the psychological challenges through the physiological origins, MELD aims to help men move beyond mere survival strategies to achieve lasting well-being.

 
 
 
 

A Study on the MELD Core Program

Over several years, Ellen Choi, Ph.D., and Allen Sabey, Ph.D., delved into the pioneering work initiated in Owen Marcus’s clinic, which subsequently evolved through his men’s groups before taking shape with the group he established in Sandpoint, ID, in 2005. Employing the physio-emotional model, Somaware (TM), developed by Owen, the Sandpoint Men’s Group witnessed a surge in demand for additional groups and training sessions. In 2016, Owen expanded this initiative to EVRYMAN, integrating it into all the courses and retreats offered by the organization. The inaugural course introduced by Owen, (Fundamentals) was what later became known as the MELD Core, a four-week introductory program to the methodology formerly known as the EVRYMAN Method.

Intrigued by this course, Dr. Choi approached Owen with a proposal to conduct research on some of the participants. A group of men generously volunteered for the study. After years of rigorous research, the study titled “I could exist… not in a box”: Experiential examinations of masculinity within a contemporary men’s group” was published in the American Psychological Association’s premier journal. This publication marked a significant milestone in validating the scientific basis of the methods used in the MELD program, demonstrating the impact and effectiveness of this innovative approach to understanding and exploring masculinity.

The accompanying letter from Dr. Choi:

It gives me great pleasure to share that our paper was finally published! Thank you for the guidance, support, and tremendous contribution you offered the research team. I appreciated you sharing the curriculum you created for EVRYMAN with us so openly and thank you for orchestrating an opportunity for me to experience your training, even though I’m a not a man. 

To summarize our results briefly here, we found that when men participated in the curriculum that you created, they were able to witness men they respected behaving in ways that were counter to more traditional expressions of masculinity and further, that

they were encouraged to mimic such behavior because they saw or experienced benefits

like belonging when they were more vulnerable with each other. 

You’ve created some incredible opportunities for growth and expansion and I’m wishing you well as you. 

Respectfully,

Ellen Choi, PhD.

Assistant Professor, Organizational Behaviour

Toronto Metropolitan University

Research Study on MELD Method

Discover How MELD Core Works

We invite you to explore the comprehensive 17-page study. While the extensive supporting research may initially appear daunting, your perseverance will be rewarded upon reaching the chart crafted by Ellen and Allen, which encapsulates the profound impact of their work. Despite its conceptual simplicity, the methodology demonstrated in the study is potent, fostering substantial and lasting change expeditiously. The document meticulously details the factors contributing to the efficacy of this approach, providing insight into its transformative potential.

Today, the course that Ellen and Allen studied is exclusively offered at MELD as Core 1, taught by Mike Sagun, a co-founder of MELD and the instructor of the course that Ellen and Allen studied. Mike, a masterful instructor, immediately makes men feel safe as he gently guides them through the course experiences.

Understanding the MELD Method

At the core of the MELD approach is the belief that understanding and regulating one’s physiological responses can lead to significant emotional, relational, and psychological benefits. This involves learning to utilize the body’s stress responses and engage with its unlearned relaxation processes, which can result in a more balanced and fulfilling emotional life.

MELD’s bottom-up orientation allows men to step out of their mental loops and limited coping mechanisms to use their bodies’ natural ability to slow down to feel safe so they can relax and connect. Rather than telling a man how to be or what to do, MELD connects men with disconnected or underutilized resources. Each man develops his own tools to succeed in relationships and life.

Attempting to control unwanted emotions or behaviors has limited benefits. Addressing the psychophysical origins allows the need for survival behavior to dissolve away. When we downregulate our sympathetic and dorsal vagal shutdown (stress) response, we can better experience the parasympathetic response of relaxation and connection. What was a survival behavior becomes a co-regulating or connecting behavior.

Learning the MELD Method

Support and Endorsement from Experts

The method has garnered support from various mental health professionals, including Esther Perel. Perel, a renowned Belgian psychotherapist, has achieved significant acclaim as a New York Times bestselling author with her insightful books, “The State of Affairs” and “Mating in Captivity.” 

A Supporting Traditional Therapy

While MELD incorporates therapeutic elements, it distinctly differs from traditional therapy. It uses skills found in Somatic Experiencing and Hakomi Therapy to help men reconnect with their bodies and emotions, leading to improved emotional regulation and stronger personal connections. MELD is not therapy, though many say it’s therapeutic; its focus is education at the deepest level – physiological, emotional, and unconscious. 

Because of our bottom-up approach, many therapists refer their clients to us to enhance the changes they receive in therapy. Therapists often join our events and community because, as men, they need the connection and support that authentic relationships bring.