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Online; Understanding and Working with Shame in Person-Centred Practice: From Implicit to Explicit

Shame is potentially everywhere – lurking implicitly in the shadows of human relationships and our being, rather than being explicitly known.

By its very nature, shame is kept hidden and secret, yet at the same time it is a powerful method of social and interpersonal control. The fear of shame can drive unhealthy behaviour and choices in constricting, limiting and often destructive ways.

Researchers attending to shame agree that the way to free ourselves is to bring our shame into awareness - to make it explicit. Only through doing this in the presence of deeply empathic and accepting others does shame become bearable, less powerful than we fear. In this process of repair, we feel freer to make other more balanced and growthful choices.

Research also shows that the hidden (shameful!) nature of shame means it often looks and feels like something else and so stays unrecognised - in the world in general and between clients and therapists. This misidentification leads to denial and distortion in the therapy room and compromises our capacity to facilitate the six conditions. Inevitably this reduces the effectiveness of therapy as an agent of change.

By delving deeper into this subject in both research and practice, it’s become apparent that shame is also implicitly but not explicitly addressed throughout person-centred theory: an understanding of shame and an approach to working with it runs throughout it. In fact I’d argue that the facilitation of a non-shaming environment might be the purpose of the six conditions and at the heart of the radicalism of the person-centred approach.

This workshop will help person-centred practitioners recognise and work with shame in the therapy room – both in their clients and themselves – and to understand it from a person-centred theoretical perspective. While consistently underpinned by theory, the day will emphasise and allow time to explore the unique, personal and profoundly impactful experience of shame. 

The day will consider: 

  • The nature and existence of shame
  • How shame might manifest in everyday life and in the therapy room
  • Shame within the person-centred theoretical framework 
  • How therapist shame may compromise the facilitation of the six conditions

Facilitated by Helen Skelton. Helen Skelton is a person-centred psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in private practice and a tutor on the MSc in Contemporary Person-Centred Psychotherapy at the Metanoia Institute.

Date: 20th and 27th February 2023

Time: 18:00 - 20:00

Held online via Zoom.

Fee structure

External delegates: £25

Metanoia members: £15

External students: £10

External delegates, external students and Metanoia members please click here to book your place.

Metanoia students and staff please click here to sign up via moodle.