An exploration of the formation of shame and its treatment in the therapeutic space

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Gannon, Steven
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This dissertation set out with two primary aims. Firstly, to outline a theoretical understanding of the development of shame in the individual. The second aim was to develop an understanding of how a shamed client may present for therapy and how best to treat them. The findings of this dissertation were that shame develops in the individual as the conscience begins to form; the result of repression of desires and the incompatible idea. Shame also can manifest through the relationship with the primary caregiver. Finally shame can be the result of societal interaction, whereby the individual feels of lesser worth compared to societal expectations. Clients suffering from shame are far less likely to disclose their feelings to the therapist, thus the therapist must remain vigilant of shame dynamics and regressive behaviour on the part of the client. Empathy, genuineness and understanding seem to be key attributes for the therapist hoping to build a secure attachment with the shamed client.