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Workshop Detail

Boulder, CO

Brain to Brain, Body to Body: The Relational Nature of Shame

APRIL 6, 2019 - APRIL 7, 2019

Exploring and resolving shame, especially pre-verbal, chronic shame, has always been challenging for even the most effective therapists and clients. Shame is a painful interpersonal emotion that first develops in relationship with attachment figures. We see ourselves through their eyes, and if we perceive that they are disapproving, humiliating, ridiculing or hold us in contempt, our sense of self, bodies, emotions, thoughts and self-esteem are deeply affected. "Shame" is thought to be a derivation of an earlier word referring to "cover" as in concealing oneself. Indeed, we typically wish to hide the parts of ourselves we feel are shameful--the perceived badness or the parts that do not feel "good enough" in our own or in another's estimation. Because shame inherently has to do with parts of the self that clients wish to disguise or conceal, they often do not readily talk about their shame for fear (implicit or explicit) of further humiliation or rejection. Therapists, sometimes because of their own shame, also might avoid bringing shame to the fore in the therapy hour. The avoidance on the part of both parties obfuscate shame itself and renders its treatment inconceivable.

This workshop, explores the early roots of shame, its impact on the body and nervous system and on patterns of emotions, thoughts and beliefs. We will address the various manifestations of shame, and how shame is so often disguised and veiled, sometimes even to our clients themselves. Since the first shameful encounters occur between the infant or young child and attachment figure primarily through non-verbal communication, such as prosody, eye contact, and touch, we will explore the role of these in the therapy hour in terms of healing shame. Foundational principles that create a therapeutic container, or atmosphere, that maximize the possibility of working through shame will be illustrated and operationalized in clinical practice. With an emphasize on the relational nature of shame, special attention will be given to the importance of the therapeutic relationship, including both implicit and explicit communication between therapist and client, to resolve shame. The use of touch will be clarified including cautions, transference and countertransference, and potential benefits. A prominent feature of this workshop is to explore Sensorimotor Psychotherapy interventions that directly address the manifestations of shame in movement, posture, and gesture of the body, as well as in a dysregulated nervous system. We will look at avoidance, compensations and defenses against shame, including the flat affect and inability to connect that often accompanies chronic shame. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy approaches will be illustrated through video tapes excerpts of consultation sessions with clients.


  1. Explain the relational nature of shame.

  2. List three reasons why resolving shame is challenging in clinical practice

  3. Describe the impact of shame on posture, movement, and nervous system.

  4. Describe the use of posture in addressing shame.

  5. Identify at least 3 problems, risks and potential benefits of using touch to address preverbal shame.

  6. Identify at least 2 reasons why clients often do not bring up shame directly in the therapy hour.

  7. Describe three principles of the therapeutic container conducive to working through shame.

  8. List three common defenses against shame.

  9. Explain why working with the body can ameliorate early, preverbal shame.

  10. Explain the importance of the therapist's implicit communication when addressing shame.

Times: Saturday: 9:00am-4:45pm
10:30am-10:45am: Break
12:00pm-1:00pm: Lunch
2:30pm-2:45pm Break

Sunday: 9:00am-1:15pm
11:00am-11:15am: Break
Location: 1140 Lehigh St., Boulder, CO 80305.
Instructor: Pat Ogden, PhD
Contact: SPI Admissions, 3034473290,