Beyond a trauma-informed approach and towards shame-sensitive practice

Luna Dolezal*, Matthew Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In this article, we outline and define for the first time the concept of shame-sensitivity and principles for shame-sensitive practice. We argue that shame-sensitive practice is essential for the trauma-informed approach. Experiences of trauma are widespread, and there exists a wealth of evidence directly correlating trauma to a range of poor social and health outcomes which incur substantial costs to individuals and to society. As such, trauma has been positioned as a significant public health issue which many argue necessitates a trauma-informed approach to health, care and social services along with public health. Shame is key emotional after effect of experiences of trauma, and an emerging literature argues that we may ‘have failed to see the obvious’ by neglecting to acknowledge the influence of shame on post-trauma states. We argue that the trauma-informed approach fails to adequately theorise and address shame, and that many of the aims of the trauma-informed are more effectively addressed through the concept and practice of shame-sensitivity. We begin by giving an overview of the trauma-informed paradigm, then consider shame as part of trauma, looking particularly at how shame manifests in post-trauma states in a chronic form. We explore how shame becomes a barrier to successful engagement with services, and finally conclude with a definition of the shame-sensitive concept and the principles for its practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number214
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2022


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