Shame-informed Counselling and Psychotherapy
Eastern and Western Perspectives
Unhealthy or maladaptive shame is believed by many to be the root cause of a diverse range of mental health problems. If we want to offer a more reparative healing to people contending with these psychological issues, we must ultimately trace back and resolve their underlying shame. This book offers researchers practitioners and students a balance of theoretical and empirical evidence for a practical approach in shame-informed counselling and psychotherapy approach.
Drawing on empirical field study evidence on shame, and making references to both Western and Eastern literature on the subject, Ng advocates that shame-informed interventions be applied following or alongside the contemporary counselling modalities and protocols. Using his 15 years’ professional practice in the field, he offers a shame-informed counselling and psychotherapy approach which aims not merely to help the individual cope with or suppress the shame as commonly advocated in current literature, but also deals with its roots through the restructuring of core beliefs and early memories.
Table of Contents
Part One: Understanding Shame 1. Introduction 2. Hiddenness of Shame 3. Shame’s Dualistic Nature 4. Development Stages of Intensified Shame 5. My Own Struggles with Shame 6. Empirical Findings of My Study 7. Qualitative Findings of My Study 8. East-West Distinctives 9. Healthy Shame 10. Unhealthy Shame 11. Continuum of Shamefulness and Shamelessness Part Two: Addressing Shame 12. Going to the Roots 13. Connecting the Symptoms to Shame 14. Preparing for Shame-informed Psychotherapy 15. Application of Shame Memory Reframing 16. Other Antidotes to Unhealthy Shame 17. Therapist's Skills 18. Therapist's Shame 19. Countering Shamelessness Appendix
Edmund Ng, formerly a business CEO, has been a licensed counsellor, grief therapist and psychotherapist in private practice for the last 15 years. Besides his qualifications in the field of business, he has studied doctoral courses in practical theology, counselling and psychology. He is accredited as a Fellow in Thanatology. Edmund has earlier written a book entitled The TIME Approach to Grief Support (2011).
"While guilt typically speaks to acts of commission, as well as acts of omission, the construct of shame has a more pervasive effect on a person and often emerges from the deeper and darker edges of the soul. Shame-informed Counselling and Psychotherapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives by Dr Edmund Ng is a definitive text on the subject and offers the reader a broad and rich cultural framework in which to view the therapeutic alliance. Counselling, at its core, is based on the nature and quality of the relationship between client and therapist, and successful outcomes are frequently dependent on bringing those things that are hidden into the light and a place of greater freedom in one’s life. Dr Ng masterfully addresses the interpersonal and intrapersonal nuances of shame, the inherent duality of its psychological dimensions, and presents clinical and practical strategies for both beginning and seasoned mental health practitioners."
Former Chair of Counselling, Regent University, USA
Senior VP, Hope for the Heart
"Shame is ubiquitous in the therapy context—it is present in the attitudes and beliefs that discourage individuals from entering therapy in the first place, and it is also present throughout the work of therapy—regardless of therapeutic orientation. Moreover, empirical research has illuminated the many connections between shame and various psychological symptoms. However, what many don’t realize or account for is the reality that the experience and expression of shame is profoundly shaped by culture. What I appreciate most about Shame-informed Counselling and Psychotherapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives is Dr Ng’s nuanced, robust, culturally-sensitive, and honest approach to the topic of shame. I believe his work is well-positioned within an area of need in our field and I am pleased to endorse it."
David C. Wang
Associate Professor of Psychology, Biola University, USA
"It is gratifying to read an in-depth exploration about the core human experience of shame from an Asian scholar and clinician who understands the complex dynamics of both the Eastern and Western psyche. Dr Edmund Ng appreciates the complexity and nuances of shame from the sociocultural, interpersonal and intrapersonal perspectives. I applaud his presentation of the healthy aspects of shame, as well as the pervasive debilitating impact of unhealthy shame. In this book, he is able to provide an approach to counselling those who struggle with unhealthy shame that is both informative and sensitive. Dr Ng’s insights are both clinically perceptive and compassionate."
Professor of Counselling, Denver University, USA
"Shame-informed Counselling and Psychotherapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives by Dr Edmund Ng is a clearly written, culturally rich, clinically creative, and personally transparent book that will be very helpful to clinicians as well as scholars and researchers. He points out that shame underlies many psychological problems and shows us how to empathically and effectively address shame in therapy. I highly recommend it as essential reading!"
Professor of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA
Author of Counselling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective
"In Shame-informed Counselling and Psychotherapy: Eastern and Western Perspectives, Dr Edmund Ng explores a life span developmental perspective of shame that may be functional or dysfunctional. His thesis that shame is the root emotion of many psychological problems is poignant for clinicians in Asia and the West. Dr Edmund like myself were raised in a shame-based Chinese culture in Malaysia but trained in western theories of psychotherapy. We had to grapple with integrating the different East-West worldviews. Edmund’s book is the answer to our struggle with our cultural borderland utilizing the underlying theme of shame. It should be a required text for clinicians training to be cultural brokers in both the individualistic Western cultures and the collectivistic cultures of the East. Edmund artistically weaves a mixed research design and scholarly writing with practical suggestions for clinical practice. Further, his authentic self-disclosure of struggles with shame and coping with the loss of his first wife makes Shame Informed Counselling and Psychotherapy an enlightening and valuable read."
Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy
Bethel University, USA
"This book fills a void in the psychotherapy and counselling literature and would be of great help to both the novice as well as the experienced therapist. I enjoyed reading it not only for its heuristic content but also for the many personal insights it gave me, especially in the chapter where the author shares his own experience of shame. Dr Ng unpacks much of the complexities of this emotion. When I was in training, I was told that Eastern peoples, unlike Westerners, don’t feel guilt, but rather they feel shame. I knew this was incorrect and Dr Ng clearly shows that shame is a more basic underlying emotion that all peoples have, one that is often strenuously defended against. This well-referenced book gives good practical examples of conducting therapy to deal with shame. After reading it I think the issue of shame should play a more prominent role in our formulation of cases for therapy and in the training of therapists. This book is worthwhile reading for anyone in the psychotherapeutic field."
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry
National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur