Working with shame using hypnotherapy

Shame I would say is one of the hardest emotions for a client to experience, whether towards themselves or towards other people. It is also one of the hardest feelings to work with as a therapist in a therapy session. A lot of research has been done now about shame based disorders and how to work with it. A psychologist called Paul Gilbert, the creator of compassion focused psychotherapy, has done a lot of work and research around this area with very promising results. From smoking to weight loss, to body dysmorphia and addictions, the emotion of shame can exist. I can only go into so much due to the length of the subject matter, but here are some ways I have found to be useful when working with shame or shame based disorders:

  • Compassion focused ego strengthening: this is the use of ego strengthening suggestions that a therapist would use anyway to promote psychological growth and develop more ego strength. Compassion focused ego strengthening is a little bit different as it focuses on how to start to develop the basic abilities of being self compassionate to ones self. In the beginning, a lot of people find this very hard and it is slow process.
  • Creating a compassionate image: this is a big one and can be something that is developed further as the therapy sessions go on. This allows the client to create an image that is specific for them. It should inhabit the qualities and feeling of being cared for and caring for others. There is no limits with this and it becomes stronger the more time that is invested in it.

  • Safe place: this is a standard for any in imagery-based work or hypnotherapy work. It also ties in nicely with the image above as it gives the client the opportunity to meet and start to work with the compassionate image.

  • Compassion focused parts therapy: a lot of hypnotherapists use parts therapy in their work. This is a little bit different and has a lot of connections with Chair work that is done in psychotherapy. This allows the client to communicate with different parts of their unconscious mind. However, this time it is used to help develop the compassionate parts of the person - the parts that are involved in maturity, wisdom and strength. The therapist would then try to develop these further to allow the client to work with the parts that are not as compassionate.

There are loads of options available in regards to working with shame in therapy but these are the ones above that I have found to be most helpful. If you are interested in this area further them please contact a hypnotherapist for more information, or look further into Paul Gilbert's research.

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