MAY 1997, VOLUME 25, NUMBER 1, Abstract 2

FINAL CONCLUSIONS OF THE APA WORKING GROUP ON INVESTIGATION OF MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD ABUSE

Working Party of the American Psychological Association

The following document is the Final Report of the Working Party established by the American Psychological Association [APA] to investigate memories of childhood abuse and how these, if they exist, can be validly accessed in therapy.

The APA Working Party commenced its deliberations in 1993, to review the current scientific literature and identify future research and training needs regarding the evaluation of memories of childhood abuse. Members of the Working Party were Drs Judith Alpert, Laura Brown, Stephen Ceci, Christine Courtois, Elizabeth Loftus, and Peter Ornstein.

The Final Report of the Working Party, reproduced below, was presented to the APA Board of Directors on 14 February 1996.  The preface to the report notes that the report does not offer any “solution” to the problem of adult memories of childhood abuse.  It does, however, offer a clear and concrete delineation of the issues, what research we need, and the differences that must be reconciled for the science and profession of psychology to attend responsibly to the dilemmas posed by adult memories of childhood abuse.

It is clear from the Working Party’s Final Report that consensus on many issues could not be reached.  At the same time, it provides a pragmatic and immediately applicable document that the Working Party hopes will contribute to a widespread questioning of the divisive discourse around this issue, to the ultimate benefit of the public the APA is committed to serve.

The Final Report is reproduced, with permission of the APA, to facilitate a similar debate among members of the Australian Society of Hypnosis.