Treating Patients With Memories of Abuse: Legal Risk Management
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
One of the most litigious areas of practice in psychology today involves the treatment of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse—particularly concerning patients who recover memories while in treatment. This volume advises practitioners on therapeutic strategies and interventions that help to heal these vulnerable patients while minimizing the risk of ethical and legal violations.
Patients claiming childhood sexual abuse are among the most traumatized of any practitioner's clients, and psychotherapists working with these patients face unique challenges. Some patients are conflicted about what to believe or how to interpret their memories.
This volume begins with a presentation of the current knowledge base about memory and the accuracy of recovered memories. The authors then provide a review of ethical and legal challenges that have been made against psychotherapists—both by patients and by the parents of patients—because therapists need to be aware of the types of charges that may be made against them. The volume also analyzes methods currently in use by therapists to aid in memory retrieval (e.g., body work, guided imagery) and comments on the extent to which these techniques place therapists at risk for ethical or legal challenges. Therapeutic techniques that have been shown to be both therapeutically sound and ethically acceptable are highlighted throughout. The authors also provide straightforward advice on documentation, language for note-taking, and consultation and supervision practices.
Written in easy-to-read nonlegalese, this volume is essential reading for any practicing psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist who works with patients struggling with recovered memories of abuse.
- Scope of the Problem
- Liability Risks of Psychotherapists
- Scientific Basis of Memory
- Risk Management: Diagnose Carefully
- Risk Management: Conduct Good Psychotherapy
- Documentation, Consultation, and Supervision
- Public Policy Considerations
- Risk Management Checklist
- Statements That May Reflect Substandard Practices
- Sample Informed Consent Form
- Signals That May Suggest Distorted Memories
- Statement by the American Psychiatric Association
- Final Conclusions of the APA Working Group on Investigation of Memories of Childhood Abuse
- Statement by the British Psychological Society
- The Australian Psychological Society Limited Code of Professional Conduct and Guidelines Relating to Recovered Memories
About the Authors