Mental Health Counselors can Rouse False Memories

Throughout the mental health industry, an array of techniques and treatment methods are utilized to rouse suppressed memories of past traumas and abuses.

As a form of therapy by mental health counselors to treat mental health conditions, memory retrieval can be hugely successful.

However, the one issue of improving mental health outcomes for patients and the second issue of what comprises the facts in a legal proceeding are not one and the same. Furthermore, there are many instances where memory retrieval can be misused or mishandled.

Regardless of the validity (or lack thereof) of memory retrieval on a therapeutic level, on its own it shouldn't be treated as a source of valid evidence in our legal systems, including Child Abuse Central Index grievance hearings.

Yet, CACI cases have frequently hinged upon mental health counselors’ and minors’ statements using recovered repressed memories. Primarily, these instances involve individuals recalling alleged cases of childhood sexual abuse.

In fact, jurisdictions throughout the US have extended the statute of limitations for child abuse cases, in part to accommodate the repressed memory phenomena (when other factors are involved).

Have You Been Accused of an Abuse Crime Based on a False Memory?

If you've been accused of child abuse based on someone recalling a false memory, you must mount a solid defense.

To further elaborate, there's plenty of academic research supporting the notion that such witness testimonies aren't valid. These studies should be used to strengthen your case.

Discussing the Necessary Evidence

The first academic resource we'll discuss is a study from Harvard, called, according to a study, Recovering Memories of Trauma: A View from the Laboratory.

Here are some key findings from this study:

  • Research has cited that individuals reporting recovered memories of child sexual abuse possess a heightened proneness to form false memories in specific laboratory tasks.
  • Cognitive psychology methods cannot distinguish real memories from false ones. They can only bring to light mechanisms of remembering and forgetting among people reporting histories of trauma.

This information doesn't decry memory recall as a treatment method, but it brings to question its reliability in the legal setting. According to the cited research above, there isn't enough proof to suggest these suppressed memories are real.

Now, let's investigate academic research from an American Psychological Association-led investigation on child abuse memories:

  • While long-repressed memories can be remembered and recalled, it's also entirely possible for false-or-pseudo memories to be constructed.
  • Massive knowledge gaps exist regarding the processes that generate accurate or inaccurate recollections of childhood abuse.

These findings establish further reasonable doubt about the validity of recalled memories of abuse. They also show a distinct lack of understanding of how to differentiate what's real and what's a fabrication.

However, one could argue that this information is slightly dated.

In which case, we cite an even more current perspective reported by the Journal of Mental Health Counseling:

  • A memory may frequently be mostly accurate, but it's still uncertain and prone to error.
  • When cases lack any corroborative evidence, it can't be known whether the memory of a childhood event is mostly true or inherently false.
  • Recent experiments have proven that memory retrieval techniques, such as hypnotic retrieval, are conducive to the formation of false memories of childhood experiences.
  • In the absence of independent verification, a clinician can't know with 100% certainty if their client's memory is accurate.

Primarily, the main takeaway of this research is that recovered memories are possible but shouldn't be taken as entirely accurate.

There's overwhelming research proving that the recalling of repressed memories alone isn't enough for a guilty verdict for child abuse. But, yes, it can hold weight if it's used in conjunction with other supporting evidence.

Further Evidence Against Memory Retrieval

If you're fighting this manner of abuse allegation, you need to know what memory retrieval techniques hold up.

It should be noted that hypnosis has been frowned upon as a means of memory retrieval, for the following reasons:

  • The hypnotized party is vulnerable to suggestion.
  • There is a likelihood of confabulation (filling memory gaps with made-up stories).
  • The subject will become more confident in their recollection after continued recalls, whether factual or not.

In many cases, well-intentioned therapists try to connect the dots with their client's symptoms and make assumptions based on causality.

Hiring a Qualified Defense Team

If a family member, or anybody else, has falsely recalled a childhood memory and you have been placed on the child Abuse Central Index, finding the best defense team is integral to your cause.

We're dedicated to mounting the right defense strategy on your case.