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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Healing Shame in Psychotherapy

Shame is an emotional that seems to be experienced by people regardless of their culture and origin.  We can begin to feel shame even as an infant, even before we have an understanding of what we're feeling ashamed about.

Healing Shame in Psychotherapy

Shame can cause us to withdraw into ourselves, fearing that others will see our shame and judge us.  If we withdraw into our shame, we feel even more isolated and the emotional pain of the shame often increases, sometimes to the point of feeling unbearable.  

Experiencing shame as an adult can trigger earlier memories of feeling ashamed, so that we're not only dealing with the current issues that cause us to feel ashamed but also the earlier incidents.  

We can feel shame even when we know, logically, that we have nothing to feel ashamed about.  In many instances, telling ourselves that we have no reason to feel ashamed or hearing someone else tell us does little or nothing to take away the shame.  It's as if there's a disconnect between what we know rationally and what we feel on an emotional level.

If we feel safe enough to talk to people that we trust, whether it's a close friend, family member or a therapist, about our shame, we soon realize that we're not alone in experiencing these feelings.  Talking about feeling ashamed often reduces or helps to alleviate the shame.

Shame and guilt often go together.  These two emotions are often confused with each other or used interchangeably.  But shame is an emotion that we feel about ourselves, whereas guilt is usually about something we did or didn't do in relation to someone else.  For instance, if you promise to do  something for a friend and you don't do it, you might feel ashamed of yourself and guilty about not following through with your friend.

Many people feel ashamed even when someone compliments them.  Often, this is because they feel they don't deserve the compliment or they're not "good enough."  

A pervasive feeling of shame often begins early in life, especially if there was emotional or physical neglect or abuse.  Children usually feel responsible for abuse and, as adults, they often carry these feelings with them, even after they know, on a rational level, that they're not responsible for the abuse.  

Getting Help in Therapy
The good news is that it's possible to work through issues about shame.  Clinical hypnosis, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing are all effective, in used by a skilled mental health professional, in helping clients to overcome shame so they can lead more fulfilling lives.

When you're no longer burdened by shame, you have an opportunity to live with a sense of inner peace and in a more open and harmonious way with your loved ones.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I work with individuals and couples, and I have helped many clients overcome shame and guilt.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or send me an email: josephineolivia@aol.com