Forensic interviewing of children: How could we get it so wrong, what we know now and the concerning re-emergence of repressed memory theory

Dr Jennifer Neoh1

1private practice

Research on the suggestibility of children and obtaining accurate accounts has greatly informed the practice of forensic interviewing of children particularly after the satanic ritual panic of the 1980’s. Forensic interviewing of children is a highly specialized field and poor interviewing techniques has shown to be associated with false positives and increased likelihood of bizarre allegations. Concerningly, scientific research and the knowledge gained from the mistakes made in 1980’s appears to be misunderstood in the current climate of social media vigilantism. Some of this misinformation appear to be leaking into mainstream thinking and the reemergence of repressed memory theory.


Biography:

Dr Jennifer Neoh is a clinical psychologist whose private practice is focused entirely on a family law population. She works as a single expert witness and has completed over 1000 psychological reports for the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia.

Dr Neoh also specialises in family therapy with separated families where the complexity of the issues range from the most difficult cases involving allegations of child sexual abuse and/ or alienation of one of the parents. Her focus is on reportable non-confidential therapy which allows her to work closely with the Court to provide better outcomes for families.

Dr Neoh has a thriving therapeutic practice with these complex cases and provides intensive solution focused interventions designed to improve the wellbeing of children and their parents.  Her referrals include children who have resisted seeing one parent (sometimes up to many years), children who have changed their living circumstances under court order to live with their rejected parent, siblings who are split and different siblings reject their other parent, and the most resistant cases which often come to her after a range of other therapeutic solutions have been attempted.

Dr Neoh also specialises in family therapy with separated families where allegations of child sexual abuse and has particular success in cases where, irrespective of court (criminal or family law) or child protection service findings that the risks are low to non-existent, a parent retains beliefs that their child or children have been sexually abused by a family member.

Dr Neoh also has a number of publications based on her research into children’s perspectives of shared parenting and allegations of sexual abuse.