Group Discussion Guide: Counseling Against Shame

Lesson 5 — Shame at Work

  1. Even though we all know what shame feels like, it can be difficult to articulate what shame actually is.  

    • In one sentence, try to define “shame.”  

    • In your professional experience, how would you describe the way that shame behaves? That is, how does shame manifest in a patient, and what does it do to their mental state?  

  2. According to most of the literature, shame is some kind of virus; it’s simply an artifact that occurs in nature. It’s unpleasant, sure, but nobody would say it has intentions. But that’s not how the Bible sees it. According to the writers of Scripture, shame is much worse than a virus; it’s a malignant intelligence, and it’s looking to undo us.  

    • Think about your professional training, and the discourse around shame in your professional guild. How do clinicians and mental health professionals think about shame? How does this differ from a biblical view of shame?  

    • Curt suggests that shame is a malignant intelligence that has strategies for wreaking havoc on human lives. What, in your experience, are some of the prime strategies shame employs to accomplish its purposes?  

  3. Shame, rightly understood and addressed, is an opportunity for God to work his purposes in us. And that’s why one of the jobs of the clinician is to help patients to reimagine the purpose and the end of their shame.  

    • Think of an example of when God used weakness—yours or your patients’—to manifest his glory and work his purposes.