The simplest answer seems to be the requirement of a background of conventional training in the whole field of psychology. That this is a necessary prerequisite to therapeutic training is disproved by the facts. Many psychiatrists become good therapists with almost no background in the general field of psychology. In our own courses we have had students from the fields of education, theology, industrial relations, nursing, and students with interdisciplinary training. We weren't born being ashamed of our bodies. We weren't born wanting big breasts or a large penis. We learn those inclinations from our culture. If you thought your body was the perfect size, would you need the diet industry? The more you hate yourself, the more vulnerable you are to thinking that buying stuff will help you gain acceptance. The fact that shame is so lucrative entrenches it only more deeply in our culture. Sitting with our shame, by contrast, rather than reacting to it, lets us see the chasm between who we are and who we think we need to be in order to belong. When we acknowledge shame and its sources, we can develop the critical awareness to have compassion for our vulnerability and to understand what it is saying to us. We can develop shame-resilience, move through it constructively, and grow from our experiences. WHAT IS SHAME? Cultivating emotional intimacy is possible, and it's never too late to learn. Skill-Building Strategy Having intimate relationships takes work. With practice, patience, and commitment you can learn to develop intimate relationships and deepen already-established ones. Below are three tips you can use right away to deepen your relationships. Maintain eye contact during conversations.

This communicates interest, openness, and willingness to hear what the other person has to say. Show interest in other people. Really listen to other people's feelings, opinions, and life experiences. Make sure to put your devices away too! It would seem that the orientation to personal relationships with which they enter a training program is more important than the specific course work they have had or the scientific knowledge they possess. We have not had opportunity, except very occasionally, to accept individuals for training whose background is in literature or drama or the arts. Such experience as we have had, however, would lead us to believe that when such individuals are motivated to become therapists, they can achieve this goal as rapidly as the person whose training is in psychology. Sometimes, indeed, it appears that previous training in psychology has so indoctrinated the student with the concept of the individual as an object to be dissected and manipulated, that he has more difficulty in becoming a therapist than the student from another field. Several elements in our experience may distort our perceptions. The student who is not in psychology does not take courses in therapy unless he has sufficient motivation to undertake the irregular thing. The student in clinical psychology, however, may feel that he should be a therapist, and take courses for which he has no strong personal desire. It will take time, observation, and research to determine whether any of the present professional programs make likely a more rapid learning of therapy. One difference has been noted. For the person who is to do research in therapy, a background in psychology, in which there has been stress upon experimental design and the methodology of psychological science, is clearly of benefit. At its heart, shame is linked to a fear of being disconnected. Shame is the notion that if people knew me, they'd realize I'm flawed, a bad person, unworthy of love or appreciation. It's about thinking I'm not enough. Fill in the blank: not thin enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough, not rich enough. Shame is inherently social in nature as it is about our discomfort with being seen in a certain light by others. When shamed, one's sense of belonging is negated.

It's human to experience shame; In fact, most people feel it to varying degrees almost every day. Any time you think you've done something wrong or feel uncomfortable in a social situation, like you don't measure up, you may be feeling a version of shame. It's what drives us to hate our bodies and to fear rejection--and stops us from connecting with others. Be authentic. We cannot have emotionally intimate relationships if we're being fake or insincere. Be truthful. None of us likes being lied to, especially from those we are close to. For many, being truthful is hard. But it's important to work on taking responsibility for our actions. Telling the truth is the basis for all trustworthy and secure relationships, which in turn are the hallmarks of emotionally intimate relationships. I believe that it is important not only to understand which factors create good relationships and improve our existing relationships but also to learn about the signs and signals that are hallmarks of bad relationships. We suffer when we have relationships that are turbulent and toxic. Negative relationships not only wear us down emotionally and physically but also can stop us from reaching what Maslow refers to as the self-actualized life, living a life to our fullest potential. A Desirable Preparatory Background The preceding paragraphs may be interpreted as meaning that no preparation is of any significant help to the person who desires to become a skilled counselor or therapist. This meaning is not intended. It is believed that there are areas of learning and experience which are definitely useful to the would-be therapist. Unfortunately, conventional courses, based largely upon factual content, rarely provide these learnings. What would be desirable preparation for the person who is to receive training as a therapist?

The following suggestions are given very tentatively. The order has little significance. It seems desirable that the student should have a broad experiential knowledge of the human being in his cultural setting. This may be given, to some extent, by reading or course work in cultural anthropology or sociology. Shame can spring from serious events that are laden with cultural judgment, like affairs, incarceration, childhood abuse, sexual assault. But ordinary doubts and struggles can trigger it, too, like insecurities about our appearance, adequacy as parents, money, work prestige, mental and physical health, and our very identity (race, sexual orientation, gender, etc). We all have basic stories we keep returning to about what we are ashamed of. How deeply we are mired in it differs, as does the ease with which it surfaces. Our families and our culture(s) teach us early in life that some people have value and that how others look and act is inferior. If you believe you are not good enough, there is a reason. SHAME VERSUS GUILT Shame is deeply rooted in how we feel about ourselves. It's different from guilt, and understanding the difference can help us work through shame. While shame is a deeply held belief about our unworthiness as a person, guilt is a feeling about our behavior. For example, some types of emotional abuse, unlike physical and sexual abuse, can be much harder to pinpoint and recognize. This is because emotional abuse often is inconsistent and happens in multiple forms. But at its core, all forms of emotional abuse play into our human fears of rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, shame, and unlovability. It is important to note that people who were emotionally abused as children are at greater risk of becoming victims of emotional abuse as adults. If you or a loved one is a victim of emotional abuse, it is important to seek help from a professional. There is hope for a better future.

Beware of the following common forms of emotional abuse. Stonewalling. Not all emotional abuse is verbal or involves shouting or criticism. Stonewalling is cutting off all communication by giving someone the silent treatment until they do what you want them to do. Such knowledge needs to be supplemented by experiences of living with or dealing with individuals who have been the product of cultural influences very different from those which have molded the student. Such experience and knowledge often seem necessary to make possible the deep understanding of another. If the student is to become a therapist, the more he has been able to achieve of empathic experiencing with other individuals, the better will his preparation be. There are undoubtedly countless avenues to this end. It can come through literature, which can provide an entrance to the inner worlds of other persons. Perhaps it might come especially through the role-taking which goes with dramatic productions, though so few therapists have such a background that it is difficult to judge. It may come from psychology courses in which the approach is dynamically phenomenological. It can come simply through the process of living, when a sensitive person desires to understand the viewpoint and attitudes of another. It is a way of perceiving which can be learned in courses, as some of our staff have demonstrated in teaching beginning graduate courses. In our judgment another valuable phase of student preparation is the opportunity to consider and formulate one's own basic philosophy. In other words, shame manifests as I am bad, while guilt manifests as what I did was bad. Guilt can be helpful as it can show us what we did (or failed to do) that means we didn't live up to our values. My guilt over not inviting my wheelchair-user friend to dinner was productive learning that helped me take responsibility, apologize to my friend, repair the rupture, and change my behavior in the future. The ability and willingness to view something we've done and hold it up against who we want to be is incredibly adaptive. It can be uncomfortable, for sure, but it supports us in becoming better people. Guilt can be unhelpful if it's about living up to unrealistically high standards.