Legal Issues in Trauma Therapy: A Video Series on False Memory and Legal Issues


“The false memory attack is one that has caused a great deal of unhappiness and a great deal of difficulty. It has also helped raise the standard of care…There is no doubt that the law has intruded into the practice of therapy, and there is no doubt that it will continue to do so.”– Alan Scheflin, JD



By Cavalcade Productions


The 1990s saw a vigorous and well-publicized backlash, exemplified by the false memory movement, against sexual abuse survivors and the therapists who treat them. At the same time, public discussion of these issues focused attention on how abuse, and therapy for abuse, affects families, communities, and society. This video series describes the reasons for the false memory attack and strategies for prevention. Five therapists who have met with harassment discuss their experiences. Released 1999.

Legal Issues in Trauma Therapy I: The Memory War


  • History of the Backlash
  • The False Memory Attack
  • The Assault on Trauma Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Labeling Therapy as Fraudulent and Unscientific
  • Harassment of Prominent Therapists
  • The Recanter Phenomenon
  • Managed Care
  • Fear of Lawsuits
  • Therapist Experiences–Suits and Complaints
  • Personal Effects on Therapists
  • Standing Up to Harassment

Format: DVD or VHS
Number of Minutes: 49

Legal Issues in Trauma Therapy II: Strategies & Standards


  • Precipitating Factors in the Backlash
  • Being Sued by Clients
  • Depositions
  • Getting Emotional Help
  • Self-Protection
  • Effect on the Therapeutic Alliance
  • Consultation and Networking
  • Staying Current in the Field
  • The Political Milieu of Therapy


Format: DVD or VHS
Number of Minutes: 43


About the Presenters

Laura S. Brown, PhD, APBB writes and lectures in the field of psychology, and maintains a forensic, psychotherapy, and consulting practice in Seattle.

David L. Calof is a clinician, consultant and presenter on the treatment of abuse. He is founder and editor emeritus of Treating Abuse Today.

Alan W. Scheflin, JD, LLM, MA is Professor of Law at Santa Clara University Law School, and author of Memory, Trauma Treatment, and the Law.

A. Stephen Anderson , a Seattle attorney, won a State Bar award for his representation of David Calof.

Pamela Hall, PsyD is an adult and child psychologist in private practice in New Jersey.

Barbara Jo Levy, an attorney in Seattle, litigates and lectures on sexual abuse issues.

Kathy Steele, MN, CS is a psychotherapist in Atlanta, and the author of articles on dissociation.

Charles Whitfield, MD is a psychotherapist in Atlanta, and is the author of Memory and Abuse.

The Trainer’s Guide

The 48-page trainer’s guide includes objectives, reproducible outlines for note-taking, review and discussion questions, a resource list, a journal article, a memorandum, and two newsletter columns, described below.

The journal article is Alan Scheflin’s “Risk Management in Treating Child Sexual Abuse Victims and Adult Survivors” (Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Vol. 7(1) 1998, which is abstracted as follows:

Before the 1990s, mental health professionals were rarely sued for “talking cures.” Today, hundreds and hundreds of cases have been brought against therapists working with child sexual abuse issues. Risk management needs to accommodate the current wave of lawsuits so that mental health professionals can avoid litigation. This commentary presents some of the issues involved in these cases, and suggests techniques for therapists to utilize for risk management.

The Memorandum is from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Civil No. L-96-627, Pamela P. Freyd, et al. v. Charles L. Whitfield, stating the reasons for granting a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Dr. Whitfield. The memorandum discusses background, legal standard, discussion, actual malice, protected opinion, and conclusion.

The newsletter columns are by Philip J. Kinsler, entitled “Risk Management: An FAQ Approach,” fromThe ISSD News, Vol. 22(6), 2004, and Vol. 23(1), 2005.