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SHAME AND GUILT

Our counselling for shame and guild services can help you to gain a better understanding of yourself and your feelings. When a person experiences chronic shame and guilt, it usually is not connected with a specific present event, but is a result of a pervasive background sense felt all the time. People who have experienced trauma in the past can develop what is known as “core shame” and can also be more sensitive to experiencing feelings of guilt in response to current events and internalizing others’ accusations (or perceived accusations).

While guilt can be adaptive in commensurate proportions to an event for motivating social compliance to norms and cohesion, shame is usually about the person being bad. This is different from guilt, which is about the behaviour being ‘bad’. So, shame tends to be experienced as feeling bad about oneself as a person with no possibility of reparation, whereas guilt is experienced as remorse while still feeling connected and loved as a person with the possibility of redeeming oneself.

Self-esteem and individuation of self from the ‘internalized other’ during early experiences that formed a pattern of core shame or a predisposition and sensitization to feelings of guilt are likely part of the counselling for shame and guilt process. This process may include experientially learning:

  • How the brain and mind work so that you can better understand why you feel and behave the way you do as it relates to the inner reactions of shame and guilt that you feel.
  • What stress is and how to best manage it so you can maintain some ‘emotional balance’ during the waves of guilt and undercurrent of shame.
  • How to identify hidden thoughts, feelings, and beliefs apart from those that were internalized during development that have led to maladaptive guilt and core shame. As with many ‘presenting concerns’, shame and guilt are tied with other feelings and emotions such as anger and sadness.
  • How to form new, more adaptive and constructive beliefs about yourself, others, and the world as these inform the automatic interpretations and expectations that you have.
  • During counselling for shame and guilt you will learn to develop more constructive and harmonious ways of communicating and relating with others (and self) with a focus on respecting your and their emotional boundaries and fostering self-agency and autonomy to promote greater connection and validation. Because anger and sadness are very much intertwined with shame and guilt, there is a focus on constructive expression.
  • How to discover, understand, and manage the different types and layers of emotions that may be underlying ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’ and the underlying needs for safety and connection that are associated with guilt and shame.
  • Gain new thinking tools and problem-solving techniques to better deal with life’s challenges to give you greater self-agency and autonomy that also helps with managing or mitigating guilt and shame when it becomes maladaptive and not commensurate with the present situation.
  • Learn helpful and practical principles to better approach challenges in life with greater peace of mind and success.