Shame, Obsession & Habitual Worrying: A Perspective from Relational and Integrative Psychotherapy A 2-day workshop at London with Dr Richard G. Erskine London, 29 November & 30 November 2019 (Friday & Saturday) 10:00am - 4:00pm on both days
Shame and self-righteousness can be viewed as protective dynamics that help avoid vulnerability to humiliation and the loss of contact-in-relationship with others. When our clients have experienced a relationship with another person which is tainted by criticism, ridicule, blaming, ignoring or humiliating behaviours; they face an increased vulnerability in all of their relationships – accompanied by shame, self-righteousness and a loss of self-esteem. Obsession, habitual worrying and repetitive fantasising, either independently manifest or concomitant with shame, absorb much of our clients’ mental activity – interfering with their spontaneity, intimacy and living joyfully in the present. The compounded and continual reinforcement of the belief ‘something is wrong with me’ presents the therapist with complex challenges which are specific and unique to the psychotherapy of shame, obsessions and habitual worrying. Both unresolved archaic shame and introjected shame for example, potentiate the pain of any current criticism, adding a further layer of toxicity to our clients’ reactions. At the same time, the juxtaposition of the therapist’s inquiry, listening and attunement with the client’s memory of a lack of interpersonal contact in previous significant relationships, produces intense, emotional responses from the client. Rather than experience unmet relational needs again, the client may react defensively to the interpersonal contact offered by the therapist with fear, anger, more worrying or increased shame. At this workshop, we use lecture, case-discussions and live demonstrations to first look at the interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics of shame and the psychological defence of self-righteousness. We will examine the relational disruptions in the origin of shame as they occur in family situations, in school, on the playground, in groups and in one’s intimate relationships. Through demonstrations of both individual therapy and the Relational Group Process, we will examine how the healing of shame can occur through respect, contact, authenticity and involvement. Drawing on object relations and integrative approaches, Dr Erskine then presents a six-point therapeutic plan for the psychotherapy of clients who engage in obsession, habitual worrying and repetitive fantasising. We will explore the psychological functions, script beliefs, processes of avoidance, archaic experiences, relational-needs and self-responsibility that form the foundations of repetitive fantasising, habitual worrying and obsessions. Our six-point plan evaluates how obsession is often an attempt to disavow affect and engage in intellectualisation rather than feel emotions. We will discuss how methods of cognitive understanding, behavioural change, affective expression and relational psychotherapy can be applied in therapy planning – with a view to reclaiming of our clients’ sensitivities to others and their personal sense of contentment.
About the speaker Richard G. Erskine, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and Training Director of the Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy (New York City and Vancouver). Originally trained in client-centered child therapy, Dr Erskine also studied Gestalt therapy with both Fritz and Laura Perls. He is a certified clinical Transactional Analyst and a Licensed Psychoanalyst who has specialized in psychoanalytic self-psychology and object-relations theory. His work is an integration of these concepts and more than forty years of clinical experience, which has included working with disturbed children, inmates in a maximum security prison, borderline and narcissistic clients, post-traumatic stress and dissociative identity disorders. Recently his research and clinical practice have focused on the treatment of the schizoid process and on the psychotherapy of obsession. He is the author of several books and scores of articles on psychotherapy theory and methods. His best-selling book (with Jan Moursund and Rebecca Trautmann) is "Beyond Empathy: A Therapy of Contact-in-Relationship" (1999, Brunner/Mazel) and most recently, in 2015, he has published “Relational Patterns, Therapeutic Presence” (Karnac).

Continuing professional development through seminars, workshops and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists.