Common Shame and Guilt Themes in Families Affected by Alcoholism or Addiction
This chapter highlights certain family shame and guilt themes that frequently appear in addiction counseling contexts, including family therapy, therapy with affected family members, and couples counseling. Shame and guilt are not entirely individualistic phenomena. Instead, these affects are often shared in that one person's questionable behavior may induce shame or guilt in many members of their families or groups. Many clients need to explore this legacy of shame and guilt that may continue to harm individual’s years after they leave the alcoholic home. One problem with collective shame and guilt is that the addicted family members can tap these feelings to avoid facing the natural consequences of their actions. Transferred shame and guilt must be identified and challenged during therapy. Families that are full of shame and maladaptive guilt have developed communication habits that repeatedly reinforce shame and guilt.