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Sunday, May 22, 2011
Toxic Shame in Psychotherapy
Shame is a tacit issue in psychotherapy. Dr. Helen Lewis, a psychologist at Yale University, is a pioneer in the study and treatment of toxic shame in psychotherapy. In a study of transcripts from 180 psychotherapy sessions, Dr. Lewis found this truth: "When the therapist failed to recognize the patient's feelings of shame, the patient's problems were prolonged or worsened. When the therapist recognized the shame and the patient deal with it, the treatment was shorter." Dr. Lewis' work verifies my own experience as a patient and therapist myself. However, in treating the core of shame-based people, I have serious doubts about the effectiveness and competence of mental health models of treatment of medical psychiatry and humanistic psychology. There is a better, holistic way.