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Digital Recordings

Janina Fisher: Shame and Self-Loathing in the Treatment of Trauma

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Janina Fisher, PhD
5 Hours 09 Minutes
Audio and Video
May 26, 2018
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Media Type:
Digital Recordings


Does shame prevent your traumatized clients’ recovery and hamper their ability to find relief and perspective despite effective treatment? 

Do your clients' feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy interfere with taking in positive experiences, leaving them to feel hopeless?

Trauma therapists regularly confront the impact of shame on their clients’ ability to find relief and perspective even with good treatment. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy interfere with taking in positive experiences, leaving only hopelessness. Increased ability for self-assertion gets undermined by belief systems about worth or deserving.  Progress in the treatment, increasing relief from symptoms, even greater success in life tend to evoke shame and self-judgment rather than pride. Despite the therapist's best efforts, unshakeable feelings of shame and self-hatred often undermine the treatment.

This workshop will introduce participants to understanding shame from a neurobiological perspective—as a survival strategy driving somatic responses of automatic obedience and total submission—enforced by the client’s punitive introspection.  Using lecture, videotape, and experiential exercises drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, a body-oriented talking therapy, participants will learn to help clients relate to their symptoms with mindful awareness and curiosity rather than automatic acceptance. When traditional psychodyanamic, cognitive-behavioural, and EMDR techniques are integrated with Sensorimotor interventions emphasizing posture, movement, and gesture, issues of shame can become an avenue to transformation rather than a source of stuckness.



This online program is worth 5.25 hours CPD.


Janina Fisher, PhD's Profile

Janina Fisher, PhD Related seminars and products

Janina Fisher, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and former instructor at The Trauma Center, a research and treatment center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known as an expert on the treatment of trauma, Dr. Fisher has also been treating individuals, couples and families since 1980.

She is past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities.

She is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and the forthcoming book, Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma (in press).

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Janina Fisher has an employment relationship with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. She is a consultant for Khiron House Clinics and the Massachusetts Department of MH Restraint and Seclusion Initiative. Dr. Fisher receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium, recording royalties and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. Dr. Fisher has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Janina Fisher is on the advisory board for the Trauma Research Foundation.


The Neurobiology of Shame

  • The role of shame in traumatic experience
  • Shame as an animal defense survival response
  • Effects of shame on autonomic arousal
  • Why shame is so treatment-resistant

Shame and Attachment: Its Evolutionary Purpose

  • Shame and the attachment system
  • Rupture and repair in attachment formation
  • What happens to shame without interpersonal repair

The Meaning of Shame in the Treatment of Trauma

  • Disgust, degradation, and humiliation interpreted as “who I am”
  • Cognitive schemas that exacerbate shame
  • Internal working models predict the future and determine our actions

Treating Shame: Working from the “Bottom Up”

  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Physiological state as the entry point for treatment
  • Regulating shame states with somatic interventions
  • Using mindfulness-based techniques to inhibit self-judgment

Healing Shame: Acceptance and Compassion

  • Re-contextualizing shame as a younger self or part
  • Dual awareness of who we are now and who we were then
  • Getting to know our “selves”
  • Bringing our adult capacity to our childhood vulnerability


  1. Describe the role of shame and self-loathing as symptoms of trauma.
  2. Identify the neurobiological effects of shame.
  3. Describe the role of negative cognitive schemas in perpetuating shame.
  4. Assess the physiological and cognitive contributors to shame.
  5. Apply somatic interventions drawn from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy that decrease shame.
  6. Practice memory processing, cognitive-behavioral and ego state techniques.



Overall:      4.7

Total Reviews: 100


Alex P

"Great workshop. Many thanks."

Mary M

"This workshop helped to frame and enrich the work I already do with my clients "

Amira M


Robyn M

"excellent workshop"

Marta K

"It would be helpful if printed handouts were provided on the day to the participants. "

Andrea B

"Very professional, informative and engaging presentation"

Colin C

"A very useful experience to engage with the knowledge on this subject from an expert with a very user-friendly delivery."

Robin S

"A wonderful workshop. Janina Fisher is brilliant!"

Colin J

"an excellent seminar. Well organised and well presented"

Paz T

"A lovely experience, thank you Tracy for the organization! "

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