When Clients are Reluctant to Talk About Shame
Working with clients who suffer from deep feelings of shame can be a delicate and nuanced process – for a few reasons . . .
To start, shame can disguise itself in a number of ways. It can hide beneath anger, outrage, self-sabotage, or abusive relationships.
What’s more, clients often develop a set of defenses that can make it difficult for them to talk about, or even admit to, feelings of shame.
When that’s the case, here are two things that might help. First, we need to be on the lookout for signs that can clue us in to the presence of shame – even when it’s subtle. And second, we need strategies that can help clients feel comfortable talking about it.
So in the video below, Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD, provides three cues that can help therapists detect shame’s presence. Then, she shares a simple question that can help clients begin to open up about feelings of shame.
Have a look.
If you found this video helpful, you can hear more about how to help clients break free of a powerful cycle of shame from some of the top experts in the field, like Bessel van der Kolk, MD; Marsha Linehan, PhD; Peter Levine, PhD; Richard Schwartz, PhD; Pat Ogden, PhD; Stephen Porges, PhD; Shelly Harrell, PhD; and more.
Now we’d like to hear from you. What are some other ways that you recognize or work with shame? Please let us know in the comments below.
If you found this helpful, here are a few more resources you might be interested in:
[Infographic] Shame vs. Guilt – A Client Handout
A Simple Metaphor to De-Shame a Client’s Trauma Response, with Ron Siegel, PsyD
Treating Trauma: How to Work with the Shame of Moral Injury
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