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The Shame Spiral: Release Shame and Cultivate Healthy Attachment in Clients with Anxiety, Trauma, Depression and Relational Difficulties

“Who could ever love you?”

“I knew you’d fail.”

Debilitating and complex, shame is among the most destructive of human emotions. Depression, violence, anxiety – it emerges in a variety of ways that are profoundly damaging to your clients’ lives and the lives of those around them.

Working with clients experiencing unhealthy shame presents you with a formidable therapeutic challenge. How do you effectively manage something that hides in the shadows…that by its very nature is so excruciating that it pushes people toward avoidance? How do you heal something that lurks behind masks of anger and defensiveness? How do you break through to suffering individuals who’ve spent a lifetime viewing themselves as wrong, unlovable, and unworthy of getting better?

Stop letting shame derail the therapeutic process and transform how you work with shame-driven clients.

Watch this recording and help your clients end avoidance, face their shame, and rewrite their story of dysfunctional self-worth and condemnation into one of compassionate acceptance.

Key benefits of watching:

  • Teach clients to manage shame without resorting to destructive measures.
  • Reduce judgmental thoughts and reactivity with mindfulness.
  • Cultivate secure self-attachment with somatic approaches.
  • Discover how shame complicates trauma treatment and how addressing shame can help you expedite recovery.
  • Build resiliency to shame with interventions based on empathy, forgiveness, and compassion.


Product Details
Average Rating:
Debra Alvis, Ph.D.
6 Hours 13 Minutes
May 20, 2020
Product Code:
Media Type:
DVD - Also available: Digital Seminar
Never expires.


Continuing Professional Development Certificates - PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 6.0 hours CPD.



Debra Alvis, Ph.D.'s Profile

Debra Alvis, Ph.D. Related seminars and products

Debra Alvis, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and private practitioner with over twenty-five years of clinical experience. She specializes in an integrative approach bringing together polyvagal, neuroscientific, and somatic principles to treat trauma and co-morbid disorders.

Debra discovered that the polyvagal approach facilitates a mindful awareness of the biological reactions influencing the therapist/client relationship and the client's sense of safety in the world. Integrating physiological, brain-based, body-focused approaches with traditional psychotherapeutic orientations helped clients to recover more easefully and quickly from trauma. In addition, with an increased sense of safety and connectedness, clients more frequently practiced the strategies required through her work in private practice and as a clinical supervisor, educator, and consultant.

Dr. Alvis developed and led the Mind/Body Program at the University of Georgia where she now teaches health psychology graduate students to apply polyvagal, neuroscientific, and somatic approaches, serves as project director for federal grant focusing on integrative healthcare, and develops mindfulness-based research studies. A thirty-year personal contemplative practice and over a thousand hours training as a mindfulness and yoga teacher further enrich her presentations.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Debra Alvis is in private practice. Dr. Alvis receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Debra Alvis has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Additional Info

Program Information

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


  1. Enhance client attunement with clinical strategies that replicate conditions for healthy attachment.
  2. Characterize how shame complicates the treatment of trauma and specify how shame can be worked within traumatized clients.
  3. Evaluate how shame can be addressed in your treatment plans with self-forgiveness interventions that can help facilitate recovery.
  4. Communicate how anxiety generated by feelings of shame can be managed with breathing techniques that can be taught in-session.
  5. Establish how depressed clients can manage shame generated negative emotions with imagery-based compassion exercises.
  6. Analyze how mindfulness can be incorporated into therapy with shame-prone clients to reduce judgmental thoughts and reactivity.


Recognize Shame: Assessment Tools

  • Shame vs. guilt
  • Multicultural perspectives
  • How addressing shame expedites treatment
  • Reading the body – non-verbal signs of shame
  • Interviewing questions for assessing shame in:
    • Key relationships and current patterns
    • Sexual, physical or verbal abuse, trauma, and neglect

Shame and Attachment Styles: Clinical Strategies to Cultivate Secure Attachment and Self-Compassion

  • Characteristics of shaming environments
  • Concerns of adults shamed in childhood
  • Strategies to replicate conditions for healthy attachment
    • How to enhance presence, attunement, resonance and trust
    • Dignity in the telling – titrating shame exposure
  • Somatic approaches to cultivate secure attachment
    • Developmental movements
    • Horizontal processing
  • Self-compassion exercises
    • Interventions to address interpersonal difficulties
    • Befriend bodily sensations
    • Common humanity visualizations

Address Shame in Your Trauma Treatment Plans: Reclaim the Body from Shame with Breath and Movement

  • How shame complicates trauma recovery
  • Polyvagal theory – shame and the shutdown response
  • Shame and victims of sexual assault – from victim to survivor
  • Exercises to strengthen connections
    • Belongingness treasures
    • Divine child mandala
    • I am meditation – choosing visibility
  • Interventions based in breath and movement
    • Heart mudra and breath – embracing resistance
    • The peaceful warrior

Effectively Intervene in the Downward Spiral of Shame, Anxiety and Depression:

Cognitive approaches that lean into ruminatory shame

  • Put shame into perspective
  • Dispute shame messages

Anxiety interventions for the shame-prone client

  • Breath and movement strategies to stem panic
  • How yoga addresses anxiety symptoms

Breakthrough shame fueled depression with:

  • Techniques to bring shame to light
  • Prosocial behaviour
  • Imagery-based compassion exercises

The Devastating Impact of Shame in Relationships: Build, Maintain and Repair Couple and Family Relationships

  • Unmask shame – anger and other disguises
  • Engage partners in shame reparation
  • Shame resiliency strategies – empathy, forgiveness and compassion
    • Forgiveness in practice – Releasing breath with mantra
    • Identify shame wounds and antidotes
    • Mindful RAIN for shame – regulate emotions and reduce judgmental thoughts

Shame Research, Limitations and Treatment Risks

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Case Managers
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Chaplains/Clergy
  • Other Mental Health Professionals



Overall:      5

Total Reviews: 1


Heather F - PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania

"By far, one of the best, if not THE BEST, PESI programs I have participated in -- Excelllent and relevant content and very well organized and presented."

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