Do you recover repressed trauma memories?

No. We do not deliberately try to recover repressed memories. In fact, Iwe would seriously question the competence and ethics of anyone who claims to do this—especially for those who claim to use hypnosis to recover memories.

Although there are a number of cases of people who have recovered previously forgotten memories of childhood abuse that have been corroborated as being true by third parties, there have been countless examples of well-intentioned therapists “uncovering” memories of abuse in clients who later learn these memories are completely false. This risk increases greatly when therapists use hypnosis. These false abuse memories have ripped families apart and have led to a number of lawsuits against therapists.

This does not mean we will not work with someone in distress who suspects they may have traumatized. However, memory is notoriously unreliable, and research has shown that it is possible to create false memories that are every bit as painful as real memories.

We have had several clients who have remembered previously forgotten memories of childhood abuse as adults, particularly sexual abuse. We have helped them work through these memories using evidenced-based treatments, especially those with posttraumatic stress disorder.

However, some people cannot remember the abuse, or they may have vague, fuzzy memories of it. This is not a problem. There is no compelling research that people must remember their abuse to heal from trauma. The bigger question is what is getting in the way now that is preventing you from living the life you want to live. These obstacles may be related to a past trauma. Or they may not.

If you suspect you may have posttraumatic stress disorder, we can evaluate the possibility in greater detail when we meet.

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