Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Shame in the Therapy Hour

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Shame in the Therapy Hour

Article excerpt

Rhonda L. Dearing and June Price Tangney, Eds.: Shame in the Therapy Hour. American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 2011, 428 pp., U.S. $69.95, ISBN: 1433809672

Psychotherapists routinely navigate a host of problems involving avoidance and aggression associated with shame. The urge to hide, the action tendency of shame, is often realized in avoidant behavior such as substance abuse, depression, general or social anxiety, psychic numbing, cognitive efforts to undo reality, insensitivity to emotional and physical pain (both one's own and the pain of others) and dissociation. Aggression - a cosdy strategy to regulate shame - may involve attacks on the self or on others. Self-attack can include behaviors like starving, cutting, burning, and suicide; attacking others can involve a threatening tone and attitude (being contemptuous, dismissive, entided, disgusted, or enraged) or it can involve actual assault up to the level of homicide.

June Tangney and Rhonda Dearing have devoted their careers to researching and writing about shame. Now, seeking to raise awareness among mental health clinicians about the strikingly pathogenic effects of shame and offering tools across the board for regulating shame in psychotherapy, they give us this edited volume in which a group of clinicians provide guidance on how to recognize and regulate shame.

The book is divided into five sections. The first offers the perspectives of clinicians with expertise in psychodynamic, object relations, functional analytic and emotion-focused therapies as well as in the modalities of group, family, and couple therapy. The second section of the book examines shame-based clinical disorders that involve addictions, trauma, body image and eating disorders, refugees and immigrants, and patients who meet criteria for borderline personality disorder. The authors comment throughout on the importance of therapists learning to regulate their own shame and the third section, tided "Shame in the Other Chair" consists of one chapter specifically on the implications of therapist shame for therapy and supervision. …

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