Toxic Shame

Toxic Shame – Recovering from shame in family systems

Saturday 12 December 2020 - A Live Webinar

With Dr Aileen Alleyne, Dr Chip Chimera and Professor Arlene Vetere

  • Includes a recording of the event with access for a year (14 days post the event)
  • Bookings close at 9.00am GMT Wednesday 9 December

This conference explores the psychotherapeutic challenges of working with shame, one of the most painful yet insidious emotions because of its potential to attack the deepest sense of self. Shaming is often a mechanism of emotional control in dysfunctional families.




10.00 GMT (05.00 EST)
Dr Aileen Alleyne
Healing the Shame that Yokes You: Understanding Inter-generational Shame in Black Family Systems
Shame in all family structures tends to yoke or bind its members to codes that shape the family’s values and belief systems. Moreover, when inter-generational shame dynamics (those occurring between and across generations) are compounded by the impact of historical oppression, eg, as in the case of the enslavement of black peoples for centuries, the resulting trans-generational experience can be powerful, leaving painful memory imprints on the psyche of that people. Identity-shame is a major component of this traumatic historical legacy, and it continues to inhabit the lives of black individuals and the collective to this day. Shame is passed down the generations and is transmitted in several ways, through parenting practices, family scripts, family thinking and behaviours. It is also apparent in ways the sexes relate to each other, for example, how roles and relationships are defined, and in intimate attachments and commitment. The dynamics of intergenerational shame in black families, whether conscious or unconscious, can critically inhibit capacity for growth and the individuation process. Every message of a shame-based family is a re-enactment of trans and intergenerational wounding and, if left untreated, these narcissistic wounds generate pain that can last a lifetime.



Dr Arlene Vetere
Working Systemically with Shame in Families: Violence, Attachment and Risk
This talk will explore our safety methodology for safe relationship therapy practice and in particular will focus on understanding the safety implications of shame-based responding in families. In our systemic approach to helping family members stop the violence we construct safety around both explanation and responsibility. Shame can get in the way of taking responsibility both for behaviour that harms others and for safety. Helping family members stop the violence means helping them predict and prevent dangerous arousal, often triggered by attachment threats, so they can de-escalate in a difficult moment. We work with a “stable third” as a minimum triangle for practice, and they help us and the family think about safety and make the safety plan. This way of working begins to make family members’ behaviour visible to others so they can be accountable. If shame gets in the way, we have to work with that first, and this often means opening up inter-generational loyalties and patterns of relating to outside scrutiny. This, of course, is also potentially shaming, and the challenges for family members and for us are multi-layered, complex and always involve risk.



Dr Chip Chimera
Holding Hands with Shame
In working with systems in which shame and blame are the currency of survival, the therapist is often affected in multiple ways. Therapeutic resilience is a resource which must be nurtured and protected in the therapist in order to remain effective. How can the therapist both protect themselves and remain open, receptive and empathic to what the clients bring? This presentation examines the effects on the therapist of shame in the system. Using a systemic approach we will explore the implications for the therapist of holding shame and engaging with shame-organised systems, including how we take care of ourselves in the process.


Q&A & Panel Discussion



Handouts included:

Bookings close at 9.00am GMT Wednesday 9 December

Confer member:
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Certificates of attendance for 5 hours will be provided


This is a live online webinar using Zoom software. Zoom is free to download and use.

For more information about Zoom click here.

To download Zoom free of charge click here.


10.00 GMT (05.00 EST) Start
10.00 Dr Aileen Alleyne
10.45 Discussion
11.15 Break
11.45 Dr Arlene Vetere
12.30 Discussion
13.00 Break
13.45 Dr Chip Chimera
14.30 Discussion
15.00 Q&A and Panel Discussion
15.45 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.