Blame, Shame, Emotional Dysregulation and Self-Harm
Adolescent self-harm is often conceptualised as related to difficulty regulating emotion and a behaviour that elicits guilt, shame and blame in the young person and their family. While the negative impact of blame and shame in families is well understood, Sarah Amoss and colleagues (2016) suggests that the task of the therapist is to ‘create conditions that feel safe enough to bring these stories into dialogue and, through dialogue, open up different narrative and emotional possibilities.’ While aware of the negative effects of these emotions, she suggests that ‘their generative aspects tend to be overlooked.’
She conceptualizes both blame and shame as ‘a signal that something is wrong and requires consideration; a call for help rather than an end in itself’ and hence stages towards transformative actions and a different response to difficult emotions. Rather than avoiding blame and shame and replicating the silence that occurs in families, this approach allows for an active and productive response to painful emotions and frightening actions.
Amoss,S., Lynch, M and Bratley, M. (2016) Bringing forth stories of blame and shame in dialogues with families affected by adolescent self-harm Journal of Family Therapy 38: 189–205
Upcoming workshop – Emotional Dysregulation
“A neuro-political approach to therapy with emotionally & behaviourally dysregulated children, adolescents & families”
A one-day workshop, combining clinical expertise, knowledge and training within the Bower Place Complex Needs Clinic. An opportunity to explore research drawing on live clinical practice.
21st June 2019 – 9.30am to 5pm.
Cost $190 for full day training with Senior Practitioners in the field and Bower Place Directors Catherine Sanders and Malcolm Robinson