Shame and Guilt: Impediments to Therapy A one-day seminar with Jan McGregor Hepburn and Dr Sue Gottlieb London, 9 March 2019 (Saturday) 10:00am - 4:00pm
As therapists, we understand that the presence of persecutory guilt in our clients can be a considerable obstacle to internal change. While through the therapeutic process we can try to replace persecutory guilt by feelings that lead towards reparation; progress can be challenging and can often be thwarted if the client feels too worthless to be reprieved. Our therapeutic challenges are further exacerbated when guilt coexists with shame, although it may not be explicitly manifest. While shame is associated with unpleasant emotions in most forms, we can also consider shame in the opposite sense, as a necessary component of humility and modesty. Moreover, to make any therapeutic progress now, we need to overcome the fact that shame is more than a primitive precursor to guilt; for shame to exist there has to be a person. If the self has been depersonalised, there is essentially no one to feel shame. How do we work in such situations where shame and guilt co-exist or reinforce each other’s debilitating effects? Also, can we view shame in its constructive form to better comprehend shamelessness – which may be projected into others via scorn, ridicule and disrespect? At this practical and unique seminar, which would be particularly relevant for psychotherapists, psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists, Jan McGregor Hepburn and Dr Sue Gottlieb draw on their longstanding experience to clearly illustrate two distinct processes which both carry the nomenclature of guilt: feelings of remorse and wishes to make reparation, which are in the service of development, and persecutory guilt, which is experienced as crippling and pervasive but which cannot be mediated by forgiveness or reparation, and is sterile and anti-development They illustrate that in adult life or pathology these feelings are not in fact on a continuum, or indeed intimately connected with one another; they are different internal systems, and it is the persecutory sort which severely affects our clients’ ability to live their lives and which produces severe clinical challenges. Linking these assertions with the co-existence of shame, Jan and Sue also explain how shame and remorse, when temporary and mitigated are part of normal development. Persistent shame can be pathological however, and the absence of shame can be manifest of a psychotic state of mind. They explain how shamelessness is a defensive projection against persecutory guilt and how this interplay can create therapeutic impasses. Overall, the workshop explains how we can comprehend the main drivers for the acquisition and maintenance of persecutory guilt and persistent shame, enabling us, as therapists to recognise what cannot be repaired and what can.
About the speakers Jan McGregor Hepburn has a background in Social Work Management and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and is a trainer for the North of England Association for Training in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She has been the Registrar of the British Psychoanalytic Council since 2005 and chairs the Professional Standards Committee. She is the author of several papers, most notably those published in the British Journal of Psychotherapy and European Psychotherapy Journal. She has presented papers at conferences and devised and facilitated both seminars and workshops on a variety of subjects to both management dynamics and clinical topics. She is part of the ScopEd project which is the collaboration between BACP, UKCP and BPC to map the core competencies for clinical work. She is on the Reading Panel of the British Journal of Psychotherapy and is doing doctoral research at the University of Northumbria. Dr Sue Gottlieb is a trained psychotherapist and honorary Senior Lecturer in the Experimental Psychology Department in Bristol University. She is also a training therapist and supervisor for the Bristol-based Severnside Institute for Psychotherapy where she runs a course on Contemporary Psychoanalysis for third-year students. She has been in private practice in Somerset since 1990.

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