The Experience of Therapist Shame in Doctoral Clinical and Counseling Psychology Graduate Training

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

First Committee Member

Rohini Gupta

Second Committee Member

Miles Meason


Shame, Countertransference, Graduate students, Training, Supervision


Shame experienced by psychotherapists in clinical contexts has received significant attention in the extant research, and has been recognized as an important manifestation of countertransference (e.g., Klinger, Ladany & Kulp, 2012; Morrison, 2008; Wallin, 2015). A subset of studies address the unique factors that may cause psychotherapists-in-training to experience shame (e.g., Graff, 2008; Yourman, 2003;). This paper aims to provide a richer understanding of the clinical and training-specific situations that cause clinical or counseling psychology doctoral students to feel shame, how this impacts their clinical work, and how supervisors address the issue. A survey was sent to graduate programs and responses from 47 participants were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Results suggested that a significant portion of trainees feel shame in their role as student therapists and believe that this impacts their clinical work in a negative manner. Some students felt shame as a result of their clients’ behavior, while others felt shame when they were not able to meet their expectations of themselves. A significant third group reported feeling shame because of something that their supervisor said or did. Students’ reports of the quality of supervision that they received in response to bringing up their shameful experience in supervision yielded mixed results. With respect to the findings, recommendation for more effectively addressing shame in graduate training are made.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


33 pages

Paper Method

Empirical - Qualitative, Empirical - Quantitative

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