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Klein Chris

Therapist’s Corner...Shame and Guilt

     “Shame on you.” “You should be ashamed of yourself.” Do these phrases sound familiar?
     In the context of addiction counseling, I was taught that shame is considered to be at the heart of all addictions. It’s that sense or belief that you are worthless, flawed, defective, not good enough, and, therefore, undeserving of love and belonging. I’ve referred to it as a cancer that eats at your soul. Shame encompasses the entire self and involves self-focused attention. Shame and guilt are not the same; however, they are often used interchangeably. Guilt involves a negative evaluation of a specific behavior (I did something wrong), whereas shame is about who you are (I am something wrong). Shame can be caused by humiliation or guilt.
     Some common symptoms of shame are self-blame, anger, wanting to disappear (disconnect from people, isolate), and addiction. Toxic shame, according to Richard Gannon ( is a “neurotic, irrational feeling of worthlessness, humiliation, self-loathing, and paralyzing feeling that has been inflicted onto an individual through repeated, traumatic experiences often, but not always, rooted in childhood.” It becomes pathological when it over-functions or over-regulates our behavior. I think you get the picture!
     There is healthy shame, which is different from unhealthy shame. Healthy shame does have a purpose. It makes us inhibit ourselves to protect and preserve social connections. It signals that our behaviors do not match our values and/or reminds us how we should treat people.
     Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, a well-known author, speaker, and researcher, has done extensive research on the topic of shame. Dr. Brown lists the following 12 Shame Categories: appearance/body image, money/work, motherhood/fatherhood, family, parenting, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, aging, religion, surviving trauma, and being stereotyped or labeled.
     So how does one heal from shame? Overcoming Shame lists eight strategies for overcoming shame and restoring self-esteem: revisit your childhood, recognize your triggers, practice self-compassion, challenge your thoughts, don’t double-layer shame, avoid shame reinforcers, accept love and kindness, practice forgiveness. 
     Love and self-compassion are antidotes to shame. “Shame “ is a fascinating topic and worth researching further!

~ Chris Klein, Therapist


Therapist’s Corner…Adapting to Change

     Merriam-Webster defines adaptation as the process of changing to fit some purpose or situation: the process of adapting. It is my opinion that the best lives are filled with growth and changes that demand that one adapts in order to see these changes as gifts and opportunities for improvement. Charles Darwin spent his career studying the concept of adaptation. He found species of the same bird on different islands with differing beaks that allowed them to more efficiently eat the food supply available to them. Adaptation also means progress. Adaptation has brought safety, comfort and increased enjoyment to our lives. It’s hard to see how adaptation could be a bad thing. However, if instead we use the word “change” it may bring about a mix of emotions. Therapists spend a great part of their time with clients encouraging change or adaptation. 
     Adapting to change can bring on discomfort and feelings of insecurity. The frustration of losing what was once familiar to us often slows the process and for some and can bring it to a grinding halt. Focusing on what one has control over is what makes or breaks progress from occurring. No matter what happens in our lives, life keeps moving and we must do our best not to be left behind. Adding to the self-imposed resistance to adaptation are those around us who will offer resistance.  Those who know us best often struggle with the changes  we attempt to make in our lives, challenging us along the way. Another down side to adaptation is the risk of failure. Change is not easy. To embark on this journey allows for the possibility for failure. However, if there is no risk the reward would mean nothing. 
     There are tools that can be used to combat discomfort, lack of support from those around you and the fear of failure: goal setting.  Goal setting is critical to success. Goals are most helpful when they are measureable. Rather than setting a goal “I will be nicer at work” set it as “I will give two compliments each day to my coworkers.”  Measurable goals hold us accountable and keep us on track. 
     Secondly, write goals down and post them where they will be viewed several times a day, such as a bathroom mirror. 
     Next, find people who will support you in these goals and inspire you to stick to them. Eliminate the non-supporters in your life; change is hard enough on your own. Don’t allow naysayers to have an influence on your journey. Finally, be disciplined but realistic. You won’t adapt overnight. It is a process and you will have days that you fail. Battles will be lost. But you must keep your mind set on winning the war. Be kind to yourself and be encouraging to yourself, you are your greatest cheerleader. Now go out and shake those pom poms.    

~ Jordan Allen, Therapist Originally published at Her View From Home (


Tips from Our EAP...
Dealing with Debt & Credit Problems

    Is your New Year's resolution to work on getting out of debt? Here are some tips:
Are You in Trouble with Debt?
 ■ An increasing amount of your
income is going to debt payments.
 ■ You pay only the minimum amount on loans and credit cards.
 ■ You’ve reached credit card limit.
 ■ You use credit cards to pay for things you used to pay for with cash.
 ■ Debt prevents you from making 
contributions to your retirement plan.
 ■ You experience worry, anxiety, or sleeplessness over debt problems.
 ■ You've been in debt before, got out of it, are burdened by debt again.
Take Action Now
     The first step to resolving debt problems is to decide on the steps to accomplish your goal. This includes making a complete list of the amounts owed and the terms of payment for each amount. Chances are you could use some advice on how to proceed. Many books exist on the subject of eliminating debt. Most bookstores will have numerous offerings. There are also non-profit organizations in every state that can help you identify steps to take and provide other related services. These include working with your creditors to help make payments easier and advising you on the consequences of claiming bankruptcy, which should only be done with appropriate professional and legal guidance.
Credit Repair Service Scams 
The Federal Trade Commission says don’t believe advertisements that offer to erase, for a fee, accurate negative information in your credit file. Some of these companies promise to show you how to create a new credit history using a new employer identification number. Then, they advise you to use it instead of your social security number when you apply for credit. Misrepresenting your social security number is illegal. The FTC says that virtually everything a credit repair service can do legally, you can do yourself.
Debt Repayment Services?
Debt repayment services can work, but you should review the options available in your community. Before you do business with any company, check it out with your local consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau in the company’s location. Some debt counseling service firms may charge high fees and fail to follow through on the services they sell. Others may misrepresent the terms of a debt consolidation loan, failing either to explain certain costs or to mention that you are signing over your home as collateral.
Federal Laws that Govern Debt and Credit Services
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: Governs the business practices of debt collection companies and protects consumers against illegal methods and invasion of privacy.
Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2004: Provides for a free credit report upon request once per year from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union credit bureaus.
Federal Credit Repair Organizations Act: Governs the business practices of credit repair organizations and the services and information they provide to consumers.
Federal Telemarketing Sales Rule: Addresses business practices of companies offering loans by phone and promising a loan for an advanced payment or fee.
Fair Credit Reporting Act: Governs the management of information associated with consumer credit, reporting, dissemination of information, consumer rights to dispute errors, & time limits on the reporting of negative accurate information about credit.

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Coordinator (article from Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP,

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