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Options for Families

If you are a member of a family which has been affected by bad therapy or False Memory Syndrome, hang in there! You are not alone! You have nothing to be ashamed of! Committing incest or child molestation is something to be ashamed of; being falsely accused on the basis of so-called "repressed memories" which were supposedly "recovered" during "therapy" or after reading suggestive literature is not! Do not let the ignorant, incompetent, irresponsible therapists and authors of the world score a second victory by letting them ruin your life too or drive you to depression or inaction! While there is life, there is hope. Many families which have been split through therapeutic malpractice have ultimately reconciled. There are happy endings to many of these stories, so keep hope alive for a happy ending yourself and in the meantime give meaning to your suffering by fighting back to save other families from a similar fate!

If you have just been accused,  Suggestions of Abuse by Michael Yapko, Ph.D. contains specific advice for each affected family member about how to relate to each other and the accuser. Dr. Yapko has allowed to reproduce excerpts from his book including specific advice for the falsely accused, the spouse of the accused, the accuser's family members, the accuser's siblings, and advice for actual abuse survivors.

I know from agonizing personal experience how utterly devastating it is to be accused by a loved one of sick, disgusting crimes and to be denied the opportunity to respond to the accusations and demonstrate your innocence. I know how frustrating it is to experience hit-and-run accusations and be left shattered and out of contact. I know how frustrating it is to see how easily therapists can profit by committing malpractice and shattering innocent families and how difficult it is for devastated families to bring the perpetrators to justice. I know how infuriating it is to see the inaction and indifference of professional organizations in the face of an epidemic of therapeutic malpractice. I survived and you will too!

Suggestions for surviving the crisis based on upon my personal experience, which may or may not be relevant to your personal situation:

  • While this one part of your life is seemingly engulfed in chaos, try to maintain some stability in the other areas of your life to give you "breathing room" while you adjust to your new situation. If you have a job, keep it. This is more important for providing continuity, stability, friendships, and something else to think about than it is just as a source of income. If you are married or in a relationship, hold your marriage or relationship together in the face of this challenge.
  • As much as you want to help bring the accusing family member to her senses, realize that your influence over her in the short run is probably very limited and that your first priority must be maintaining the physical and mental health of you and your other loved ones in the face of this crisis. The first rule of emergency response is "don't become a casualty yourself." You can't help anyone else if you lose your own physical or mental health.
  • Be realistic and realize that this experience will place enormous physical and emotional demands on you and consume some of the energy you would  like to devote to other pursuits like your work. Temporarily reduce your personal expectations for yourself in these other areas while you adjust.
  • Don't think that you will always feel as much pain as you do right now because you won't. With time, it gets better. You just have to be very patient and keep putting one foot in front of the other while you wait for the pain's intensity to ease. With luck, you will get a reconciliation and happy ending. Even if you don't anytime soon, you can still continue your life and enjoy sources of fulfillment unrelated to your loss.
  • For God's sake don't commit suicide!!! If you are feeling suicidal, go to the nearest emergency room immediately for an evaluation. While there is life, there is hope. Even if you are falsely accused of incest, even if other family members or friends or others believe the false accusations, even if you are estranged from your beloved family and alone, even if you have been indicted and are facing trial, even if you are being sued and must mount an overwhelmingly expensive legal defense, even if you have lost your job and home, don't give up! Killing yourself gives the forces of evil and ignorance their final victory. While you are alive, you deny them that victory and keep alive with you the hope of a happy ending. Ending your life ends with it all the possible good you could have accomplished in the future and all the happiness you would still experience no matter how unlikely that may seem at the moment. The country is slowly waking up to the silent holocaust which has been taking place, and truth and justice are slowly but surely winning the war against ignorance and injustice.
  • Don't make the mistake of the so-called "Survivors" and redefine your entire life in terms of this single experience. Realize that you had family, friends, work, hobbies and interests before this tragedy and that you will afterwards too. As overwhelming as this experience is, keep it in perspective as one very tragic and painful experience which is only a single component of a long, diverse, and fulfilling life.
I would not presume to tell you what you should do. That is something which only you can decide. Every person's situation is different. You will have to find a path that fits your personal health, circumstances, means, and beliefs.

This page is intended only to provide you with information about things that some families have chosen to do after reflecting on their experience. It is only intended to be a source of ideas. I am not implying that you have an obligation to do any of the things on this list. Indeed, in many cases, there may be legal or health reasons that prevent you from taking a particular action or make it dangerous or unwise. Each person's situation is different.

Before I share any of the things that some families have done, I need to state a couple of disclaimers.

Legal disclaimer: I am not an attorney. I am not able to provide legal advice, and nothing on this site attempts to do so. I strongly urge you to contact an attorney immediately, regardless of who you are, what your situation is, or whether or not you are considering taking action of any kind. An attorney can advise you about your legal rights and responsibilities under the laws of your state and can tell you how much time you have to make a decision before civil and criminal statutes of limitations expire. An attorney can also advise you about the legal risks of any action you may be considering. Believe it or not, if you report a therapist to a state licensing board, the therapist may be able to sue you for libel or other reasons, so be careful no matter what you do or don't do, and seek professional legal advice first!

Medical disclaimer: I am not a trained health professional of any kind. I cannot provide medical, psychological, or psychiatric advice, and nothing on this site attempts to do so. If you are experiencing symptoms of any physical or mental illness (including but not limited to depression and self-destructive thoughts or behavior), see a medical doctor (M.D.) immediately for an evaluation and diagnosis and a discussion of what further steps, if any, may be appropriate. If you are feeling suicidal, go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately for an evaluation. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms of illness, regular medical checkups are important for maintaining your physical and mental health, so if you haven't seen a doctor recently, schedule an appointment.

Again, I must emphasize that this list is for informational purposes only. Do not take any legal or medical risks. See a medical doctor and an attorney before you do anything or before (through the passage of time and the statute of limitations) you lose the opportunity to do something you may wish to.

Here is a list of steps that some families have taken after reflecting on their personal experience, their health, their financial resources, and (often) their desire to see that other people are not misled and that other families are not split by bad therapy, junk science, pop psychology, and the fraud of so-called memory recovery therapy.

The following actions are options for all affected families, whether the false memories developed during therapy or as a result of reading the suggestive, misleading literature of the memory recovery movement.

  • Some choose to learn more about the problem to understand its causes. (See the lists of resources on this site for more information.)
  • Some subscribe to the free Retractors' Voice newsletter (published by and for retractors) to learn about the experiences of retractors and how they came to realize that their "memories" were not real. (Email your postal address to the publisher at to subscribe.)
  • Some choose to network with other affected families to share experiences and offer each other support. To find other families in your local area, join the False Memory Syndrome Foundation or subscribe to its printed newsletter; every edition of the newsletter contains a list of the local contacts for each state who can invite you to meetings of the local chapters.
  • Some join the False Memory Syndrome Foundation or subscribe to its printed newsletter to support education and research related to the problem and the reconciliation of affected families and to keep current on the latest developments.
  • You may choose to tell us your story for possible online publication to help educate others about the problem. On the advice of legal counsel, all identifying information will be removed from any stories or quotes we publish on this site. (Click here to learn how to submit your story.)
  • Please help warn people about the danger before they are deceived and their family is shattered! Print 10 copies of this flier and post them on the public notice boards at your local supermarkets and shopping malls!
  • If The Courage to Heal played a role in the development of your family member's false memories, you may choose to write Ellen Bass and Laura Davis at the address they provide in their book for feedback and tell them about your experience. (Warning: consult an attorney first! Any information you provide could be subject to discovery in a legal proceeding, might compromise a suit you choose to file against a therapist, and might be grounds for a libel suit against you.)
  • Did suggestive books play a role in the development of your loved one's false memories? Use our Write a Book Review page to submit online reviews for publication at and Our Write a Book Review page makes it easy--just click the links and type! You can make a difference by warning book buyers about the danger of suggestive books and writing positive reviews of good books!
Some families with members whose false memories developed during therapy have chosen to do one or more of the things on this list. Again, I strongly urge you to consult an attorney before taking any of the actions on this list. Any action can have legal risks. I have highlighted some of the potentially riskiest actions with the phrase "(Warning: consult an attorney first!)", but all actions on this list may entail some degree of legal risk. Consult an attorney first for an evaluation of your particular situation before doing anything.

  • Some choose to network with families of other clients of the same therapist to compare experiences, offer each other support, and consider supporting each other in any action taken.
  • Some choose to discuss the therapist confidentially with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. (Click here for contact information, including the toll-free phone number to get a free information packet and report form.)
  • If the therapist is licensed as a medical doctor, psychologist, counselor, social worker, or other mental health provider, some choose to file a complaint with the therapist's state licensing board. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
  • If the therapist is unlicensed and the therapy performed fits the definition under state law of "practicing medicine without a license" or "practicing psychology without a license," some choose to file a report with the state's Board of Medicine or Board of Psychology. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
  • Some have used their state's Freedom of Information Act to obtain information about the therapist. One family in Michigan writes:

  • Does your state have a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?   Our state does (Michigan), and last year I wrote to the state requesting info on our accusing daughter's therapist.  The Chief Freedom of Information Officer responded, giving me info on her licensing status and whether any disciplinary action had been taken against her.  He also acknowledged receiving my allegation against her which I had submitted.  He sent me a copy of her licensing file and the rules and regulations regarding social workers in the state of Michigan.  The department took no further disciplinary action in this matter, and claimed an exemption from release of further info as this release would constitute an unwarranted invasion of the licensee's privacy.


  • Some choose to make their friends aware of this problem by a letter or in the annual Christmas card so that the friends learn about the problem, are less likely to become victims themselves, and are motivated to join the fight against ignorance and injustice. (Ask all your friends to visit this site and email their own elected officials. Think of how many letters that will generate across the country and how it will raise awareness of the problem in our government at the state and federal level nationwide!)
  • Some put free public service ads in local "Penny Saver" papers to describe False Memory Syndrome and provide the contact information for this web site and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
  • Some choose to educate others to prevent future tragedies by speaking to groups of mental health providers, high school and college students, Parent-Teacher Associations, and other public forums. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
  • Some choose to contact their local newspaper and radio and TV stations and:
    • interest them in doing a news report about your experience in particular or memory recovery therapy in general to raise public awareness of problem. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
    • tell them the family's story as a letter to the editor, op-ed piece, or human interest story.  (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
  • Some choose to picket the therapist's office to warn others of the danger. (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
  • Some choose to take legal action to seek compensatory and punitive damages and reduce the risk that an ignorant, irresponsible, or incompetent therapist will harm others.  (Warning: consult an attorney first!)
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