"what policies are in place for reading materials recommended by NHS practioners?"

About: Cardiff & Vale University Health Board Pentwyn Health Centre

(as the patient),

I am again left frustrated by my contact with mental health services. And further frustrated that any expression of my frustration is seen as evidence of “personality difficulties”

Approximately a year ago an NHS psychologist recommended I read a book called “Reinventing your life” on page 100 of this book when dealing with the subject of childhood sexual abuse they say in the main body of the text

“There are also some excellent books that are tailored specifically for survivors of abuse. One well known book is The Courage to Heal”

I was extremely concerned about this recommendation as this book is well known to be extremely controversial. It was taken off the books on prescription scheme in this area a number of years ago. If it is not considered suitable to recommend to people in primary care I hardly see that it is OK for NHS practitioners in secondary care to be recommending a book which recommends it.

When I first brought this up a year ago the psychologist responded by saying that he did not know anything about “The Courage to Heal”. I thought it was fair enough that he had not known but I had brought it to his attention and I did expect my feedback to be taken seriously.

I am extremely well read on the subject of recovered memories. I was taught many things about memory when I was a trainee counsellor for an agency offering counselling to survivors of sexual abuse. I became increasingly uncomfortable and this was fuelled further when I brought up the topic of recovered memories in supervision and was met with a highly charged response that seemed dismissive of any other point of view of the willingness to examine evidence.

I stopped working for this organisation and read many reputable texts that put forward arguments and evidence that humans are highly suggestible and is possible to implant “False memoires” in people.

I have seen first hand how such false memories can be absolutely devastating and can rip families apart.

I am hardly a lone voice in the wilderness regarding “The Courage to Heal”. My understanding is also that the authors have no kind of mental health qualifications and the book came about in response to creative writing workshops which they ran.

This book has a totally circular argument basically saying that if you think you were sexually abused as a child even if you have no memories then you probably were sexually abused as a child.

I hardly see how this kind of argument has any place in NHS treatment.

And I feel it is only fair to point out that the psychologist I am working with has not worked in way that would lead to “recovering” memories.

I was told this week when I brought up the subject again that my inability to let this go was evidence of my “personality difficulties. ”

My only motivation in bringing this to the attention of the people who do need to know is that someone else who read “Reinventing your life” could go on to read “The courage to Heal” and be seriously harmed by it. I fail to see how concern for others who would have none of the background knowledge that I posses is a problem or a negative personalty trait.

This again came to the front of my mind recently as there was a radio 4 programme “Analysis” dealing with this topic.

So again I am posting on Patient Opinion to bring this to the attention of the relevant people. Surely there are polices in place about what reading materials NHS practitioners can recommend?

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Response from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

“We are sure that all our Psychology staff would share dragonvoice’s concerns in regard to false memories, and we do recommend Reinventing Your Life as a resource to support individual therapy. We would expect colleagues to recommend self-help books (and CDs, DVDs, websites, phone apps, etc.) that they honestly believe to be useful to patients and with which they have some familiarity, but it’s always possible that such materials might contain small sections that could be unhelpful to certain people.”

The mention of Courage to Heal is as being an example of a book on sexual abuse- it is just described as a “well-known book”.

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Update posted by dragonvoice (the patient)

you have taken the quote out of context. if you include the previous sentence it does read as a recommendation. Given how controversial the courage to heal is I fail to see why you cannot make sure that staff recommending reinventing your life simply make sure they give a clear verbal explanation that they are not also recommending the courage to heal. As I have already said the courage to heal was taken off the books on prescription scheme. You are leaving people in secondary care vulnerable to serious harm from reading the courage to heal.