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Shame Competence Training

Alongside the Shame and Medicine Project, and funded separately, Luna Dolezal has worked in collaboration with the Devon & Cornwall Police to develop an innovative and evidence-based ‘shame competence’ training package. Shame is a strong driver of behaviour, decision making and actions, and can have very concrete effects in interpersonal relations, especially in healthcare contexts, along with other caring and service professions, often to ill-effects. Despite its wide-ranging effects and impacts, along with its ubiquity in experience, shame is often unacknowledged and remains unspoken in healthcare and social care contexts, and even within trauma-informed approaches.

Within policing, along with other human services, understanding shame, and its impacts and effects, has, to date, not be an explicit focus of training or practice. There exists evidence and research that demonstrates links between shame and a number of policing relevant issues and behaviours, such as: violence and violent crime, domestic abuse, sexual violence, exploitation, terrorism and radicalization, offender decision making, mass shootings, anti-police attitudes, gang violence, honour killings, looting and spontaneous street violence, among others. As a result, it is obvious that police practitioners will benefit from a deeper awareness and understanding about shame, along with competence about how to recognize and manage shame dynamics.

‘Shame competence’ involves practitioners having a theoretical and practical understanding of shame. Practitioners must understand what shame is, be aware of, and able to identify, behaviours that are used to cope with shame. Practitioners must also be aware of shame dynamics, how shame circulates interpersonally, and develop on-going competence in identifying their own shame and its effects on their thinking, actions and behaviour within professional practice.

The aim of the shame competence training is to enable individuals and organizations to begin to create and systematise nuanced and collaborative understandings of how shame is produced and experienced as a result of particular interactions, experiences, policies and practice, enhancing organizational and individual emotional intelligence, in order to understand the impacts and effects of shame within professional practice. ‘Shame competence’ is the basis for the implementation of shame-sensitive practice.

Luna worked with Haley Peckham (Facilitator and Training Developer), Meg-John Barker (Creative Consultant), Devon & Cornwall Police, the wider Police Feedback Network and the Trauma-Informed Plymouth Network to produce the training in 2022.

From March 2023, there are two in-person training packages available:

  1. Shame Competence for Police
  2. Shame Competence for Trauma-Informed Practitioners

If you would like to find out more about these trainings, contact Luna Dolezal (

The development of the training is funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Devon & Cornwall Police Serious Violence Prevention Programme, and the Open Innovation Platform Funding, University of Exeter.

Related Outputs:

Dolezal, L., Gibson, M. Beyond a trauma-informed approach and towards shame-sensitive practice. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. Vol.9. 2022. 214.* Open Access.

Dolezal, L. and Peckham, H. ‘Shame Competence’ workshop, Peninsula Trauma Informed Practice Conference 2022, 11 July 2022.*

Dolezal, L. ‘Why a Trauma-Informed Approach Requires Shame-Sensitive Practice’, Academy for Social Justice, 30 June 2022.*

Dolezal, L. ‘Why a Trauma-Informed Approach Requires Shame-Sensitive Practice.’ NPCC Four Nations Trauma Informed Virtual Conference, 21-22 June 2022.* Watch recording.

Dolezal, L. ‘Why a Trauma-Informed approach Requires Shame-Sensitive Practice’, Trauma as a Critical Lens Symposium, University of Exeter, 10 June 2022

Dolezal, L. “Trauma and Shame: Considering Tools for Shame-Sensitive Practice” at the Devon Trauma Network Group Meeting, 31 January 2022.*

Dolezal, L. “Considering Shame and Shame-Sensitive Practice in Policing” at Research and Practice in Conversation: A Policing Lab Virtual Event, University of Exeter, 14 December 2021.* Watch recording.

Dolezal, L. “Why a ‘Trauma-Informed Approach’ Requires ‘Shame-Sensitive Practice” at the Plymouth Trauma Network Group Meeting, 24 November 2021.*

Dolezal, L. ‘Trauma and Shame: Shame-Sensitive Practice in Trauma-Informed Approaches to Healthcare’, at the Respect and Shame in Healthcare and Bioethics Workshop Series, 1 October 2021.*  Watch recording.


Photo by Diana H on Unsplash

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