1st Edition

Working with Autobiographical Memories in Therapy
Assessment and Treatment

ISBN 9780367132927
Published June 25, 2019 by Routledge
146 Pages 2 Color & 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Aggregating 46 years of research, this book proposes a fresh approach on how to conduct assessment and therapy using autobiographical memories. It offers a system to identify and deconstruct major lifetime memories and shows how clinicians can work with the content of these memories to help clients better understand past events as present events are filtered through them.

Dr. Bruhn’s first book on this subject, Earliest Childhood Memories: Theory and Application to Clinical Practice (1990), illustrated what could be learned about clients’ present situation from the Early Memories Procedure (EMP), which is designed to identify and explore autobiographical memories of problematic experiences in therapy. The present book, which builds upon Dr. Bruhn’s work with incarcerated women and male parolees, shows what can be done with these key memories by working directly on them in therapy. Dr. Bruhn showcases a new insight-oriented treatment paradigm, "memories work," to help resolve the issues identified in EMP responses. Chapters offer an alternative view of processing trauma and explore each facet of using memories work to design mental health interventions with clients. Included throughout are detailed case studies and techniques to re-engineer dysfunctional perceptions.

Clinicians and therapists will come away with the tools necessary to use memories work successfully with clients.

Table of Contents

Statement of Purpose

About the Author


Foreword by Henry J. Richards

How Memories Work Began


An Introduction to Clinically Oriented Autobiographical Memory

1 A Theory of Psychopathology Is Fundamental to Psychotherapy

2 Analyzing Early Memories Is Like Learning a New Language and a New Operating System

3 A Diagnostic System That Focuses on Where a Client Is Stuck Helps Us Craft More Precise Interventions

4 When We Don’t Understand a Client’s Needs, We Can Cause Damage

5 Bergson’s Dilemma, or How Utility Actually Operates

6 Memories Are Programmed by the Mind

7 The Mind Affects the Body Even as the Body Affects the Mind

8 Writing Memories Down Without Discussing Them May Facilitate Understanding

9 "Instant Cures" in "Therapy"

10 A Scoring System Is Needed to Categorize Autobiographical Memories

11 It Is Impossible to Treat Criminals with Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy . . . True?

12 Conclusions


Case Study

Appendix A: Content and Process Themes, CEMSS-R

Appendix B: Press Release of NIDA Study Results

View More



Arnold R. Bruhn, PhD, has more than 40 years of clinical experience in institutional and private practice settings. He developed memories work for individual and group psychotherapy, as well as the use of the Early Memories Procedure (EMP) and Cognitive-Perceptual (CP) therapy with individuals and groups. He has authored more than 20 journal articles, book chapters, and a book on autobiographical memory assessment techniques.


"This deeply insightful book by the author of The Early Memory Procedure (1989) is the crowning achievement of over 40 years of scholarship and clinical wisdom on the application of clinically oriented autobiographical memory to personality, psychopathology, and psychotherapy. This highly readable approach is humane, accessible, profound, and effective in daily clinical work."

Marvin W. Acklin, PhD, ABPP, ABAP, board-certified clinical, assessment & forensic psychologist, Hawaii, USA

"A tectonic shift in our understanding of the causes and treatment of intractable life problems. Bruhn offers a compelling account of his discovery of load-bearing memories—particularly clear and emotionally-charged memories—as dynamic structural components of the personality system. Bruhn teaches us how to safely and efficiently bring such memories to light and how to use them to jump-start therapy from the first session, propelling a process of lasting change. Any therapist whose clients come in 'stuck' or later get stuck needs this empowering resource."

Henry Richards, PhD, forensic psychologist in private practice


"This book is a must read for all psychotherapists. It provides a framework for personality evaluation during the therapy process and helps one to clarify key issues that has brought a client into therapy. The book is a product of decades of Bruhn's research with autobiographical memory and provides many examples of how to use his Cognitive-Perceptual theory in a variety of contexts. Bruhn's approach carries forward the work of Mayman in Psychology and the philosopher Henri Bergson. It provides a new paradigm of how to approach psychotherapy and thinking about the function of autobiographical memory. It sets the foundation for future empirical studies of the utility of Cognitive-Perceptual theory and its derivative: The Early Memory Procedure."

Kenneth D. Feigenbaum, PhD, adjunct professor, University of Maryland University College, USA


"In this book, Dr. Bruhn provides an excellent synthesis of his 46 years of clinical work on the role of autobiographical memories in the treatment of psychological problems. This is an outstanding resource for clinicians who wish to understand how autobiographical memories can be incorporated into clinical practice and provides a wealth of profound insights gained from work with a wide range of clients."

Glen Bates, PhD, professor of clinical psychology, Department of Psychological Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia