Is shame still the hidden issue in our therapy rooms?

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Duffy, Richard
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Shame has always been an integral part of the human emotional experience. We have all experienced it, at some time of our lives. That said, such is the painfulness of the feeling of shame, we try to avoid it at all costs. The field of Psychotherapy has been no different, shame and the emotions in general, have been neglected in favour of the Freudian concepts of instincts, drives and impulses. These Psychodynamic concepts are the theoretical basis upon which the main schools of therapy are based. In the last twenty years however the emotions have been brought to the fore of study and research in the Psychotherapeutic field. In the past twenty years, theorists have emerged like Gershen Kaufinan, Paul Gilbert and John Bradshaw who are writing about shanle, bringing about awareness of what shame is and the dynamics involved. The objective of this enquiry was therefore to enquire, whether shame and its effects are being recognised and dealt with by our therapists or is shatne still not being given its due respect, as a therapeutic issue. The questionnaire was therefore designed to ascertain whether shame and its effects are being recognised and dealt with by our therapists. In addition, the sample of therapists was divided into four groups of ten, with each group representing one of the major schools of Therapy, Humanistic, Gestalt, Cognitive Behavioural and Psychoanalytic. In doing so, an indication is given as to which therapeutic grouping is embracing shame and which is ignoring this developing field. The results of this enquiry indicate that there is not the level of awareness among therapists in regard to the dynamics of Shame as outlined in the Literature Review. Cognitive Behavioural Therapists responded most positively to the questionnaire indicating their willingness to embrace shame and its effects.