Shame…Guilt-There is a difference.

images

Shame and guilt are emotional terms that are all-too-readily used interchangeably and yet there is a definite divide between the two.  Guilt can be defined as a negative emotional reaction to something we have DONE.  Shame can be defined as a negative emotional reaction to WHO WE ARE.  The two are quite different in how they make us feel internally as well as in how we cope with them.  Guilt can more often be alleviated through changes in behaviors that better ensure the offending/inappropriate actions are not repeated.   In other words-stop the offending action=stop the negative emotions.

Shame, however, often runs much more internally.  Because it is the result of how we intrinsically feel about ourselves, it is much deeper rooted.  Victims and survivors of abuse-sexual, physical, emotional-often experience shame as a result of what has been done to them.  They are left with a feeling of being flawed, wrong, dirty, and unable to be loved due to the actions of another.  Shame is an emotional state that is immensely painful for the client suffering through it and it is a difficult emotional state for a therapist to help alleviate.  One of the most powerful tools a therapist has when assisting a client in working through their abuse-based shame is empathy and validation.  Reassuring your patient that, as a human being, they are worthy and innately good and bear no responsibility for that which they have experienced can have a profound effect.  This validation of a lack of blame coupled with bolstering their self-worth can help turn a sense of shame into a sense of resilience.   And that strength rising out of the ashes of abuse and shame, it is a truly beautiful thing.

Namaste!

Advertisements
Standard

To What Do We Owe

dirty working hands green grass

The make-up of give and take in relationships is truly ‘made to order’.  Even within relationships-marriage, work, friendships-each interaction may warrant its own formula.  A normally fifty-fifty friendship may find the balance tipped should one said friend be experiencing a hardship in life.  Marriage?  Some say ‘equal, equal, equal!’.   Personally, I agree with the view that marriage is always a hundred percent and is forever shifting the roles of supporter and supported as various needs arise.

But what about the client-therapist relationship?  Common (professional) sense tells us it should be one hundred percent flowing from therapist to client.  After all, we are not in session in order to meet our own needs.  Yet, it has been confirmed time and time again that the client-patient alliance is of paramount importance to the success of the treatment, regardless of the skill of the professional or the therapy mode being utilized.  In such, can we not treat the alliance as an entity of its own that requires attention?  Perhaps, an equation that should be considered is as follows: 80% in support of the client and 20% in support of the therapeutic alliance; that ever necessary relationship that propels the success of treatment.  This is particularly true when dealing with trauma.  It has been established that the comfort level of the client with the therapist and the warmth and empathy demonstrated is one of the most important deciding factors when examining the success of treatment.  Treat the patient-therapist relationship its own entity to be nurtured as it will only facilitate your client’s healing and happiness.

Namaste!

Standard