Regulating Intense Shame of Noncooperative Adolescents: When Dialogue Breaks Down



When shame surpasses a certain threshold, the ability to collaborate with others comes to a halt. For adolescents who experience high levels of shame, such situations are common. These teens often display various problems, such as self-cutting, school refusal, aggression, drug abuse, and other dysfunctional behaviors. They persistently refuse to admit to having a problem and refuse to accept help. This attitude often leaves their parents, teachers, and therapists in states of helplessness, anger, and anxiety. They don’t know how to move the child forward, when the main path towards progress – verbal communication – is often unavailable, blocked, and even forbidden. This chapter focuses on interventions for shame management when the main shame-afflicted person is unwilling (or unable) to cooperate. Since most teens who experience intense shame refuse to enter therapy (or when they do, they cannot make it meaningful), the process of change is usually led by the parents (and/or school personnel). Steering the regulation process is tricky, for it demands two opposing actions: reintroducing/exposing shame when it is absent (in states of shamelessness) and reducing the adolescent’s shame when it is experienced too painfully (in states of shamefulness).


Adolescents Avoidance NVR Shame regulation Exposure Shamefulness Shamelessness Parent training 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Systemic Mirroring Family Therapy InstituteModi’inIsrael

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