Shame in the Experience of Childhood Sexual Abuse
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Shame is a core affect arising from the experience of childhood sexual abuse. The pervasive use of protective mechanisms to ward off this overwhelming affect highlights the powerful impact of shame on the self. The treatment focuses on helping survivors recognize these mechanisms and understand the functions they serve in their survival, their role in coping with shame, as well as their role in maintaining relationships with others.
The skillful use of self is crucial in recognizing manifestations of shame in therapy. The therapist’s affect and responses are tied to the manner in which shame becomes revealed or kept away. In treatment, the alleviation of shame depends upon the accepting gestures from the therapist. The increasing awareness of shame through empathic reflection decreases the use of defenses to manage this painful affect.
This seminar introduces a conceptualization of shame in relation to the experience of childhood sexual abuse. Specifically, this seminar will highlight relevant concepts in clinical work to promote understanding of the development, impact, and treatment of shame.