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The Four Faces of Shame: Withdrawal, Attack Self, Avoidance, Attack Other – healing attachment wounds

The Four Faces of Shame: Withdrawal, Attack Self, Avoidance, Attack Other – healing attachment wounds

Certificate of Completion

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8 CPD hours

Attachment trauma, shame and dissociation form a complex triangulated relationship. Dissociation and shame are typical responses to attachment trauma. When shame is activated, it will often trigger a dissociative reaction and vice-versa. Shame is both destabilizing and paradoxically, a means of regulating or defending against other emotions, such as rage and grief. It can be an affect regulator, and simultaneously extremely dysregulating. Dissociation often has a similar paradoxical function, being a regulatory process and dysregulating.

Shame is inextricably bound with childhood defences, the locus of control shift and ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator. While these dynamics are developmentally appropriate for children, allowing them to maintain important attachment relationships, create an illusion of power where there is none, and protect Self from overwhelming affect, they become entrenched and keep the adult client stuck. We cannot talk about shame without shame being activated, often within the therapist as well as the client. Therapists may inadvertently collude with client’s avoidance of approaching shame. Shame is complex, messy, painful and inordinately difficult for clients to work with therapeutically.

In this workshop Naomi and Martin will outline the connection between shame and dissociation in complex trauma. They will explore the four faces of shame: withdrawal, attack self, avoidance and attack others, and how these shame states present.

Case examples will be utilised to illustrate the concepts presented, with therapeutic approaches suggested to assist clients to transform shame-based defences and address underlying attachment and betrayal trauma.

Participants will be able to:

  • Describe the association between shame and dissociation.
  • Articulate ways in which shame defences also serve to regulate affect states.
  • Distinguish between the four faces of shame.
  • Identify activation of the locus of control shift and ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator as it relates to shame.
  • Formulate therapeutic approaches to repair shame defences.

Course Certificate

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About Martin Dorahy & Naomi Halpern

Martin Dorahy, PhD

Martin Dorahy, PhD, DClinPsych, is a clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He has a clinical, research and theoretical interest in complex trauma, dissociative disorders and self-conscious emotions (e.g., shame). He has published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and co-edited five books in the area of psychotraumatology, including most recently, Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorder, 2nd Ed (with Steve Gold and John O’Neil).

Martin is a member of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, New Zealand Psychological Society, and the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists. He is a Fellow and Past President of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). He maintains a clinical practice, focused primarily on the adult sequelae of childhood relational trauma. He enjoys snow skiing and mountain biking and would like to be much better at both!

Naomi Halpern, CQSW, Grad Cert Human Rights

Naomi provides clinical consultation for complex post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorders and related impacts of childhood developmental trauma and abuse, for mental health professionals working with adult victim / survivors of intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence, and other trauma. She has a wealth of experience working with people across socioeconomic groups, faiths, and sexual orientation.

She is a consultant and trainer for law firms, providing trauma informed training and supporting lawyers’ mental health and wellbeing. Since 2009, Naomi has been an external consultant to the United Nations developing and delivering a broad range of trauma informed programs to personnel in missions and duty stations around the world.

A skilled speaker and trainer, Naomi has presented training about complex and developmental trauma, vicarious trauma, resilience building and workplace wellbeing through Delphi and United Nations, in-person and online across all Australian States and Territories – Africa – Denmark – Germany – India – Italy – Lebanon – New Zealand – Romania – Thailand – United States.

Naomi is a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. And co-author with Dr Colin A. Ross, (2009) Trauma Model Therapy: A Treatment Approach for Trauma, Dissociation and Complex ComorbidityManitou Inc.

Naomi acknowledges that Martin surpasses her at snow skiing and mountain biking!


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