Skip to content

(Crawley) Working with Shame

Shame. It’s universal. In our survey, 99% of counsellors and therapists said that they had worked with clients experiencing shame. We all know about shame, we all know what it feels like, but what actually is it? How is it different from guilt? What purpose does it serve? What problem does it solve? How does it manifest in, and how is it affected by, our neurobiology? Most importantly, how can we work with it to alleviate it?

Shame can be the single biggest hindrance to making progress in therapy, recovering from trauma, building positive relationships, and moving forwards with life. Shame stops us in our tracks. Rather than utilising active strategies to overcome our obstacles, shame causes us to huddle up, crouch down, freeze, and make ourselves invisible. It has a protective function, but one which can end up as a self-reinforcing loop: a vicious cycle.

Shame is the often unconscious belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with us as people – that we are ‘bad’. We often cannot define that badness, or even determine its cause. It just is. And that’s what makes shame so difficult to deal with. It lurks below the surface of consciousness, infecting everything we do and everything we feel, and often remaining frustratingly out of reach. It is not unusual for people to struggle with shame for years and even decades, nullifying progress that they may be making in other areas. For survivors of child sexual abuse, shame is a kind of universal, identifying characteristic. And for survivors of other kinds of trauma, shame is never far away: if not shame at what happened, then shame at how we responded. Shame and the freeze response go hand-in-hand.

And yet shame has its roots in our evolution and is not an accident. Could it be that shame actually serves to protect us? Could shame, approached in the right way, be our friend?

Shame convinces us that we do not belong: that we don’t fit in, that we’re not acceptable, and that there is nothing we can do about it, because shame doesn’t arise because of what we’ve done, but because of who we are. And if we’re bad, surely we’re just bad – what can we do about it?

How does modern-day society contribute to the shame-game? How has the rise of social media, victim-blaming and trolling both contributed to shame, and been driven by it? What are the links between shame and mental health? What about the links between shame and physical sickness?

What is the way out of shame? What is the answer? Do we fight it, or roll with it? Do we require empathy and compassion from others to alleviate it, or do we need courage and self-compassion from ourselves? What’s the answer?

This course will look at the good, the bad and the ugly of shame, how it manifests – especially in a therapeutic setting – and how we can work with it. Aimed principally at counsellors and psychotherapists, but also relevant to other helping professions as well as people recovering from trauma, this course will take a trauma-informed, neurobiological approach to the issue of shame and look at how transformation really is possible. Led by Carolyn Spring, this course will combine the latest insights from clinical literature and research alongside neuroscience research and Carolyn’s own journey of recovery from trauma, and from a place where she was utterly crippled by shame (to the point of suicide) to where she now stands up to speak, without shame, to thousands of people each year.

Attendees of this course will receive a CPD certificate for 6 hours, along with an extensive delegate pack including a free resource related to the course. The speaker is Carolyn Spring.