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.READ MORE...
It works by undermining the individual’s most fundamental sense of worth, leaving them with an intangible sense of being wrong, unworthy – a disgrace in some way – at the core of their being. Afraid of having this confirmed by others, people with a core sense of shame may fear intimacy and social engagement; their ability to engage with life involves holding themselves apart from others. Anxiety, loneliness and depression may be its painful side-effects. When feelings of shame are compounded by further humiliations, aggression may be triggered.
Every message of a shame-based family, it is suggested, is the re-enactment of trans and intergenerational wounding. Clients may not be aware that they suffer from shame but if these emotions bring a person or family into therapy it can be worked through. This is challenging therapeutic work: underlying dynamics may play out, taking hold of all involved, including the therapist and perhaps supervisor. Our speakers come from psychodynamic and systemic family work and have vast experience working with shame in all its forms and extremities. We will discuss how to manage these dynamics in the consulting room so clients can grow in self-belief and transcend the family pattern.
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 followed by Panel Discussion