Courtois, C. (1999). Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines.
Reviewed by: Michael Fiorini, New York University
Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines is a widely encompassing diagnostic manual for practicing clinicians to assist, frame, and guide in the treatment of sexual abuse recollection. The book first covers the past and contemporary (as of 1999) historical context of sexual abuse that is remembered after the fact. From there, it details relevant knowledge pertaining to recollected sexual abuse and outlines that information for application in the clinical setting. It establishes a practical and theoretical framework for clinicians to work through and places it along a continuum of tailored treatment. Extensive research is cited throughout the book as well, and from a research perspective it can be extremely useful as a tool for guiding future or current research. A multifaceted approach, it is designed so that even those without any background in treating this particular kind of disorder will, by the end of the book, have an intricate knowledge of recollected sexual abuse and how it differs dynamically from her forms of affect, recollections, and abuse clinically. For those who already have some knowledge of the topic but wish to further expand what they know and can use in treatment, the book is equally invaluable.
Recollections of Sexual Abuse seeks to outline what is currently known about recollections of sexual abuse, how to consider it clinically, and how to treat it. All of this is done through a strict scientific and research foundation. The book first frames how the phenomenon has been handled in the past within the psychological community and details the adverse ramifications mishandling it had for how sexual abuse and clinical treatment were approached on a macro scale. It then frames the present context and the controversies behind false memories. After the socio-historical portion of the book, the structure of the rest of the book becomes topical. It explores trauma and memory interactions, child sexual abuse and memory, the philosophy and principles of practice and the evolving standards of care, and the evolving consensus model of post-trauma treatment focused on symptom relief and functioning. After this, the book centers largely on clinical guidelines. It covers guidelines for risk management, for assessment and diagnosis, for working with memory issues, and explains countertransference issues and a treatment decision model within a framework for different clinical memory scenarios. The book closes with extensive appendices and references that comprises a quarter of the book’s total content.
Essentially an expansive textbook for explaining the clinical intervention and consideration of sufferers of sexual abuse recollection, Recollections of Sexual Abuse contains a wealth of information for professional clinicians of all levels of experience in the topic. Detailed, conscious, and considered in its means of framing clinical scenarios and underlying goals in treatment, the book could be considered required reading for those working with patients who have reported experiencing recollected sexual abuse. Strictly clinical and very dense, it can serve as a jumping off point for the treatment process and for those looking to expand their expertise in treating traumatic experiences either real or imagined.
Christine Courtois, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice and serves as clinical director of The CENTER: Post-Traumatic Disorders program in the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. She conducts national and international workshops on the treatment of incest and of forms of sexual abuse and trauma. She has also authored Healing the Incest Wound: Adult Survivors in Therapy and Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Appointed a member of several APA investigate groups studying child abuse and family violence, she was also the recipient of the APA award for distinguished professional contributions to applied psychology as a professional practice in 1996.
Courtois, C. (1999). Recollections of Sexual Abuse: Treatment Principles and Guidelines. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Paperback. 437 pages. Includes appendix, index, and references.
Key words: sexual abuse, rape, recollection, memory, trauma, diagnostic tools, treatment guidelines