Future directions for psychotherapeutic treatment of shame: A scoping study



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


This study uses Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) framework for scoping studies and references Rubin and Bellamy’s (2012) discussion on evidence-based practice to scope the current literature concerning the use of psychotherapy to treat shame in adolescents and to develop a research question. The author focused on shame in adolescents and explored ways in which social work practitioners understand and treat shame during the “identity versus role confusion” stage of development. While definitions of shame vary across the scholarly literature, many of them include similar elements. Morrison (2011) defines shame as “a negative feeling about the state of the whole self, a noxious conviction that the self is bad, defective, a failure” and emphasizes the pervasive sense of self-condemnation (p. 25). Recurring themes and therapeutic approaches for managing shame in the therapeutic context are reviewed and summarized. The findings of this scoping study suggest that while the preponderance of the literature points towards the importance of addressing shame and its associated psychopathologies within the therapeutic context, there are few scholarly works that address how to reduce shame in a psychotherapy context and none that present data from studies whose designs were experimental. This paper calls for developing an evidence-based body of research into how best to treat shame in psychotherapy settings. Implications for social work practice, education, and research are discussed.



Perspectives on Social Work, Josselyn Sheer, Shame, Strategies, Psychotherapy, Treatment, Adolescents, Study Design, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Shame, Strategies, Psychotherapy, Treatment, Adolescents, Study Design