Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 79 Issue 2 (June 2006), Pages 153-307

Memories of significant episodes in child psychotherapy: An autobiographical memory approach (pages 229-236)

In this study, child psychotherapists (N =31) were asked to retrieve emotionally valenced therapy episodes by using an autobiographical memory approach, with cue words to elicit specific therapy episodes (e.g. irritated, ashamed, loving, and elated). One group of teachers for the disabled (N =10) and one group of music therapists (N =9) were also tested and served as comparison groups. Results showed that all participants were able to retrieve memories of episodes. When asked to rate each memory, negative memories were returned to less often, and overall positive memories were rated as more easy to recall and more vivid. Memories derived from positive cue words were also judged to have a more positive compared with negative importance for outcome. Surprisingly, memories derived from the cue word irritated were seen as having more positive than negative importance for outcome. Finally, we checked memory specificity for each memory derived. A high degree of specificity was found overall (72–88%). In conclusion, cue words might be a useful way to generate specific memories of therapy episodes in future research.

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