Religious Tolerance logo

Theophostic Counseling (TPM)

Information about memories

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

About Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT):

Recovered Memory Therapy (RMT), forms the core of Theophostic Counseling (TPM).

RMT is a therapeutic technique which is based on the belief that many children repress all conscious memory of severe sexual abuse. According to this belief, a child may have been brutally raped many times a week over a period of five years. Yet, as adults, they have no recollection of the attacks. In fact, they might well believe that their childhood was quite happy. RMT therapists believe that these repressed memories cause symptoms of emotional distress, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relationship difficulties, etc. in the adult. Therapy typically involves the use of some combination of suggestive techniques, like hypnotism, guided imagery and visualizations, dream therapy, age regression, automatic writing -- or even simply having the client imagine abuse that might have happened to them. After weeks or months of therapy, many clients begin to recall what appear to be fractured pieces of images of abuse. These gradually coalesce into what feel like actual images and memories of sexual abuse.

RMT seems to be a mechanism by which the beliefs of the therapist create what appear to be memories in their clients. RMT therapists often report that about 80% of their clients recover "memories" -- usually of incest, child sexual abuse or other maltreatment. However, sometimes, they report that these "memories" are of:
bullet Abuse on board UFOs by LGM (little green men),
bullet Abuse during former lifetimes,
bullet Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) by demon worshipers, or
bullet Memories of future events can be "recovered" -- even though they have yet to happen! 

Most people give the latter four "memories" little credibility. But some believe that "memories" of childhood sexual abuse recovered by RMT are reliable. Some therapists, DA's and police investigators have accepted these "memories" as valid evidence of childhood abuse. Almost all memory researchers, all major professional mental health associations, and most therapists now regard RMT as a dangerous, unproven form of therapy that frequently creates "memories" of events that never happened -- often called "false memories." Many hundreds of people were unjustly convicted of child sexual abuse on the basis of false memories in the 1980s and 1990s.

History may be repeating itself; RMT seems to be returning -- both in its original form and as TPM. Some adults who have recently gone through RMT have recalled repressed "memories" of having being sexually abused by clergy; they are now launching law suits against priests, ministers and pastors. As described below, TPM appears to be capable of creating "memories" of abuse which are likely false. Over the long term, these accusations may cause the public to discount the stories of real abuse victims who have always retained memories of clergy abuse.

horizontal rule

Types of memories:

Adults may recall events during their childhood in at least three ways:
bullet Always-present memories: The person may have continually recalled childhood abuse from the time that the abuse happened to the present time. They often experience hypermnesia -- an unusually vivid set of memories from long ago. There is often some distortion in these memories: sometimes a recollection will contain elements of two or more events; some details will be lost over time. But the memories are generally of events that really happened.
bullet Dormant memories: The person may have simply forgotten the childhood events. But some trigger -- a picture, smell, location, newspaper article, TV program, etc -- may unexpectedly cause the memories to come rushing back -- generally within seconds. Many people have experienced long-forgotten, non-abusive memories flooding back as a result of some such trigger. The phenomenon sometimes happens with memories of childhood abuse as well. These memories also tend to be related to actual events.
bullet Recovered "memories:" These are typically assembled over a period of months, either:
bullet During intense RMT, TPM or similar suggestive therapies,
bullet During periods of self-hypnosis using techniques described in The Courage to Heal or other self-help books, or
bullet Within self-help, mutual support groups.

There is a near consensus among memory researchers, and a growing agreement among therapists that most recovered "memories" are false. They are not of real events. In fact a report of the Working Group on Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in England went so far as to say: "We can find no evidence that apparent memories of long forgotten and repeated child abuse have ever been proven to be true." 1

There is a consensus among memory researchers that memories of events which happened before the age of 48 months are unreliable; actual recollections before 24 months of age are unknown. However, a small percentage of clinicians maintain that people can be age-regressed, and be able to recall memories during their birth process; some even believe that a person can be regressed into a former lifetime.

horizontal rule


  1. "Reported Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse," British Royal College of Psychiatrists, Psychiatric Bulletin, (1997), 21, Pages 663-665, 1997-OCT-1.

Copyright 2002 to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-MAY-19
Latest update: 2005-FEB-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the Theophostic menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

GooglePage Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.