Transdiagnostic and transtherapeutic strategies for optimising autobiographical memory

Our memories for past personally experienced autobiographical events play an important role in therapy, irrespective of presenting issue, diagnoses or therapeutic modality. Here, we summarise evidence for how autobiographical memory abilities can influence our mental health and the relevance of this for the treatment of mental health problems. We then guide the reader through principles and strategies for optimising autobiographical memory within treatment. We ground these recommendations within research for stand-alone interventions for improving autobiographical memory and from studies of how to support the formation and retrieval of therapeutic memories. Options are given for clinicians to guide clients in improving retrieval of autobiographical memories within treatment, for improving autobiographical memory for the therapeutic experience itself, and for creating improvements in autobiographical memory that endure post-treatment. We also provide worksheets for clinicians to use within treatment.


  •  Mental illness is associated with autobiographical memory problems.
  •  Autobiographical memory plays an essential role in treatment.
  •  Clinicians must facilitate intentional, repeated and detailed retrieval of past events.
  •  Memories should be leveraged in problem solving, future planning and social sharing.
  •  Memories must also be placed within the broader life context.


T.J. Barry, D.J. Hallford | 2024
In: Behaviour Research and Therapy ; ISSN: 0005-7967 | 180 | 104575
Anxiety Disorders, Autobiographical Memory, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Depressive Disorders, Diagnosis, Instruments, Memory, Mental health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychoeducation, Psychotherapy, PTSD (en)