The Treatment of Guilt—General Considerations
This chapter describes the need to intervene upon the fear of punishment that underlies some forms of maladaptive guilt. It presents material about how to help clients understand the distinction between adaptive and maladaptive guilt. Many clients bring guilt themes into therapy. These individuals may feel guilty about a single specific event or they may suffer from repeated guilt attacks that seem to have no clear cause. Adaptive, rational guilt is needed to help clients make and keep commitments to respect others and to affirm a pattern of responsible living. This adaptive form of guilt is particularly important to cultivate with clients who have demonstrated widespread antisocial tendencies in the past. Clients plagued with excessive guilt are less likely to constitute a threat to the community. Group therapy lectures are good forums for the discussion of guilt because members of these groups can share and compare their guilt experiences.