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Shame and guilt can keep someone suffering from addiction locked in a cycle of destructive behavior. During shame and guilt counseling at Serenity Acres, we explore the causes and effects of the shame/guilt/addiction cycle. We provide a clear and practical way to understand how shame and guilt contribute to the persistence of addiction. Further, we help clients to recognize the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is the reaction of judging a particular action or event as bad, but shame is judging the self as inherently bad based on a particular action. While guilt can be positively motivating, shame tends to be destructive and detrimental to recovery.
We provide constructive suggestions and exercises to clients and their affected family members. We explore the positive functions of shame and guilt, conscious and subconscious defense mechanisms against them, and the crucial family behaviors that initiate and encourage shame and guilt. By addressing shame and guilt in these ways, we help the client have a better relationship with themselves and their families. By treating destructive, inappropriate, or excessive shame and guilt, we can help our clients free themselves from the downward spiral of addiction and begin to build on their genuine strengths.