Shame, Addiction and the Loss of Self

Course Outline:

We will look at affect theory (Tomkins 1962, 1964, Nathanson 1992, 1994), script protocol (Cornell1994) and “the mother’s idiom of care” (Bollas 1985) and we will discuss how these ideas relate to addictions in later life.  Core to our discussion will be the idea that “shame is relational” DeYoung (2015).

We will explore ways of using these ideas in our work with our clients.  “The gradual internalization of the therapeutic relationship is the heart of the resolution of shame.”  (Cornell 1994)


To offer students and practitioners a context for understanding shame and working with clients whose early relational experience(s) have damaged their capacity to form healthy relationships in the present, both with others and with themselves, sometimes resulting in their attachment to alcohol or other addictive substances.

This workshop will have a broad application to working with clients who struggle with feelings of shame, difficulties in sustaining relationships and/or alcohol or other addictions.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the day participants will have a range of ways to think about and work with clients who experience shame, addiction and/or difficulties in relationships.

Course Structure:

Didactic, experiential, discussion and small group work.

Facilitator’s Biography:

Alison is an experienced TA therapist, supervisor and trainer.  While she no longer works with clients or as a trainer, she maintains her supervision practice and continues to offer occasional training and seminars. She has been exploring issues of shame, pride and resilience for many years.

Published papers include:

“The Only Way Out: a consideration of suicide.” (Transactions: Spring 2006)

“Shame and Resilience” (Strokes: 2014)

“The Triple Helix: a model for training TA Trainers.”  (ITA News: 2014)

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