Shame and Medicine Exeter
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Shame Sensitive Practice

Through our research we are developing principles for shame-sensitive practice. Drawing from the pioneering work of Matthew Gibson (Gibson 2015, 2019), shame-sensitive practice involves not only attempts at minimizing unhealthy shame, thereby reducing the potentially damaging and “debilitating effects of shame” (Gibson 2015, 339), but also an awareness of shame dynamics, where practitioners are more attuned to bypassed, deflected or invisibilised shame and its consequences, while also being alert to ways that shame and shaming may be produced through organizational practices and policies. In this way, shame-sensitive practice is integrated at the interpersonal level—in interactions between practitioner colleagues, and between practitioners and clients—and also at the organizational and policy levels—with an understanding of how institutional structures, practices and policy decisions can exacerbate or create conditions for shame and shaming. Being attentive to shame, and acknowledging its significance for individuals, in care contexts can improve both engagement and outcomes.

Luna Dolezal and Matthew Gibson have co-authored a paper ‘Beyond a Trauma-Informed Approach and Towards Shame-Sensitive Practice’ published in June 2022 by the Humanities and Social Sciences Communications which outlines principles for shame-sensitive practice and which was featured in a University of Exeter press release.


Works cited:

Gibson, Matthew. 2015. “Shame and Guilt in Child Protection Social Work.”  Child and Family Social Work 20:333-343.

Gibson, Matthew. 2019. Pride and Shame in Child and Family Social Work. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.


Related Outputs:

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.