Brain to Brain, Body to Body: The Interpersonal Nature of Shame
July 10-14, 2017
Exploring and resolving shame, especially pre-verbal, chronic shame that is not connected with autobiographical memories, has always been challenging for even the most effective therapists and clients. Shame is a painful interpersonal emotion that first develops in relationship with attachment figures. We see ourselves through their eyes, and if we perceive that they are disapproving, humiliating, ridiculing or hold us in contempt, our sense of self, bodies, emotions, thoughts and self-esteem are deeply affected. "Shame" is thought to be a derivation of an earlier word referring to "cover" as in concealing oneself. Indeed, we typically wish to hide the parts of ourselves we feel are shameful—the perceived badness, the parts that do not feel "good enough" in our own or in another's estimation. Because shame inherently has to do with parts of the self that clients wish to disguise or conceal, they often do not readily talk about their shame for fear (implicit or explicit) of further humiliation or rejection. Therapists, sometimes because of their own shame, also might avoid bringing shame to the fore in the therapy hour. The avoidance on the part of both parties obfuscate shame itself and renders its treatment inconceivable.
This workshop explores the early roots of shame, its impact on the body and nervous system and on patterns of emotions, thoughts and beliefs. We will address the various manifestations of shame, and how shame is so often disguised and veiled, sometimes even to our clients themselves.
Foundational principles that create a therapeutic container, or atmosphere, that maximize the possibility of working through shame will be illustrated and operationalized in clinical practice. With an emphasis on the relational nature of shame, special attention will be given to the importance of the therapeutic relationship, including both implicit and explicit communication between therapist and client, to resolve shame. Since the first shameful encounters occur between the infant or young child and attachment figure primarily through non-verbal communication, such as prosody, eye contact, and touch, we will explore the role of these in the therapy hour in terms of healing shame. The use of touch especially will be clarified including cautions, transference and countertransference, and potential benefits. A prominent feature of this workshop is to explore Sensorimotor Psychotherapy interventions that directly address the manifestations of shame in movement, posture, and gesture of the body, as well as in a dysregulated nervous system. We will look at avoidance, compensations and defenses against shame, including the flat affect and inability to connect that often accompanies chronic shame. We will also explore the physical manifestations of the antidotes to shame, such as healthy pride, self-esteem and competence. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy approaches, including the use of touch, will be illustrated through video taped excerpts of consultation sessions with clients.
The Many Faces and Functions of Shame
Relational Roadblocks to Healing Shame
A Context for Healing: The Therapeutic Container
Postures and Movements of Shame
Body to Body Conversations: The Role of Movement and Touch
Working with the Body of Shame
Hiding Shame: Defenses and Compensations
Faulty Neuroception: Exploring Shame's Nervous System
The Role of Social Engagement in Recalibrating the Nervous System
The Interpersonal Nature of Healing Shame
Essential Right Brain to Right Brain Communication
Collusion, Contagion, and Enactments
From Shame to Empowerment
Bring it Home: Somatic Communication with Shame Parts
Embodying the Antidotes to Shame
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