‘Maybe you don't actually exist’: Containing shame and self‐harm in a school counselling service

Catty, Jocelyn (2012) ‘Maybe you don't actually exist’: Containing shame and self‐harm in a school counselling service. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 28 (1). p. 81. ISSN Print ISSN: 0265-9883 Online ISSN: 1752-0118

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In this paper, I argue that the school counsellor occupies a liminal position in the school environment, on the boundary between the private and the public, and that this position intrinsically reflects the paradoxical nature of shame, at once hidden and viewed. I review arguments that locate the development of primitive shame in early containment failure, with shame being defended against by rage against others or the self. I argue that the school counsellor's position commonly oscillates through the three positions of the child–home–school triangle, but that this is felt particularly acutely when the dynamics projected through this triangle are those of shame and shaming. For adolescents, the paradoxical nature of shame also finds a counterpart in self-harm, a simultaneously hidden and viewed act which I see as a mapping of shame on the body. In exploring the operation of shame in self-harming students, I also argue that chance encounters between counsellor and student in the external school world render projections about intimacy, intrusion and shame particularly powerful.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Shame, Self-Harm, School Counselling, Children, Adolescents
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Disabilities & Disorders (mental & physical) > Self Harm
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/593

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