Transforming Shame & Self Loathing – Outline and Learning Objectives

ShameThe Neurobiology of Shame

The role of shame in traumatic experience

Shame as an animal defence survival response

Effects of shame on autonomic arousal

Why shame is so treatment-resistant


Shame’s Evolutionary Purpose

Shame and the attachment system

Rupture and repair in attachment formation

What happens to shame without interpersonal repair

Making Meaning of Shame

Feelings of disgust, degradation, and humiliation are interpreted as “who I am”

Cognitive schemas that exacerbate shame

Internal working models predict the future and determine our actions


Working from the “Bottom Up”

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: physiological state as the entry point for treatment

The role of procedural learning and memory

Physiological effects of mindful dual awareness

Regulating shame states with somatic interventions

Using mindfulness-based techniques to inhibit self-judgment

Using Sensorimotor Psychotherapy techniques to shift shame states


Cognitive-Behavioural Interventions to Shift Physiological State

Cognition and the body

Resourcing versus de-resourcing thoughts

Differentiating thoughts, feelings, and body sensations


A New Relationship to the Shame: Acceptance and Compassion

Re-contextualizing shame as a younger self or part

Dual awareness of who we are now and who we were then

Getting to know our “selves”

Bringing our adult capacity to our childhood vulnerability

Healing shame through compassionate acceptance


The Social Engagement System and the Healing of Shame

Social engagement and the ventral vagal system (Porges)

The incompatibility of shame and social engagement

The therapist’s own social engagement system as a healing agent


Learning Objectives

Using lecture, videos of sessions and experiential exercises, participants will learn to:

  • understand and identify the neurobiological components of shame
  • help clients and patients appreciate the role of shame and self-loathing as a symptom of trauma and an essential aspect of their survival strategy
  • appreciate the role of negative cognitive schemas in perpetuating shame and apply interventions to transform those schemas
  • use techniques to resolve the neurobiological patterns of shame
  • help clients decrease fear of positive affect and increase their tolerance for positive affect