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The Center for Healing Shame's mission is to serve the community by training therapists, coaches, ministers, nurses, teachers and other helping professionals how to work with shame. 

Shame is both a primary emotion and a freeze state, which has a profound effect on personal development and relationship success. In spite of its universality and its power, shame is rarely acknowledged in our culture and has been terribly neglected in most psychotherapy and other helping professions. While shame is often confused with guilt, shame is primary and exists in the body while guilt is secondary and cognitive, relating to both shame and remorse.

Shame is perhaps the most painful of all emotions. It is at the root of both the inner critic and perfectionism. It binds with and hides behind other emotions, such as anger and fear, so that it is often hard to detect. Many people go to great lengths to avoid acknowledging or even feeling shame—and this gets in the way of making progress in treatment.

Shame often fuels and promotes the negative cycle between members of a couple. Where there is blame, there is shame.

Shame can be viewed as developmental trauma. It causes much of the same physical and emotional freezing as trauma does. Not only do we lose tonus and energy, but it becomes hard to think clearly in a shame state. And shame often accompanies trauma, forming a downward spiral that is hard to break. 

The difficulty we feel in dealing with shame carries over into the therapy situation. For many clients who don’t get better in therapy, shame—unacknowledged and not worked through—is the primary factor. Both therapists and clients need to be educated about shame—how it develops, what it is and how it works. And therapists need help in developing a working model of how to help their clients identify, work through and heal their shame.

“Clinically, shame is at the root of depression, trauma, addiction, eating disorders and substance abuse. What keeps these psychological issues in place is toxic shame. In place are the are automatic thoughts, and secret or not so secret inner conversations that the person has with him or herself and their inner child age 2 or 5 or ten or the inner teen. And the shame loop that keeps things in place.”
-- Sheila Rubin

Photo Credit: Lea Delson

Photo Credit: Lea Delson


Sheila Rubin and Bret Lyon are the founders of the Center For Healing Shame.



for WELL over a decade They HAVE BEEN leaders in the effort to educate AND bring practical awareness and shame training to as many practitioners around the world as possible.

The lack of expertise and understanding in working with shame has caused hardship and pain to many individuals. Shame, like trauma, puts the body in a freeze state and lowers the ability to think and act clearly. Shame feels like a fog or cover, something that is external, that makes it hard to function. Usually, it is not a single shock to the system, like an accident or a hospitalization, but a series of more subtle shocks, a slow drip, drip, drip that disrupts normal functioning and creates feelings of isolation and powerlessness. 

The Center For Healing Shame is based in Berkeley, California. Workshops are offered in Berkeley, at various other locations in the United States and Canada, and online. There is also a full training and certification program for therapists. The education is designed to help therapists show clients how to recognize shame, work through it and move on by:  

  • Becoming more sensitive to the shaming often implicit in the therapy situation and learning how to counter shame in therapy.

  • Helping clients separate feelings of shame from other emotions.

  • Learning how to take clients back to early shaming situations and reverse the outcome.

  • Supporting clients to move their energy powerfully outward rather than turn it against themselves.

Sheila and Bret have been at the forefront of guiding mental health professionals to recognize and move through shame with their clients.

The Center for Healing Shame is qualified to provide CE credits for MFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs registered in California - CAMFT Approved CE Provider #134393. PhDs in California and PhDs and licensed therapists outside of California may be able to receive CE credits through the co-sponsorship of R. Cassidy Seminars. 

Healing Shame Core Workshop

Private consultations

Healing SHame Certification Program

The Founders Of The Center For Healing Shame

Photo Credit: Lea Delson

Photo Credit: Lea Delson

Sheila Rubin, MA, LMFT, RDT/BCT is a leading authority on Healing Shame. She co-created the Healing Shame - Lyon/Rubin method and has delivered talks, presentations and workshops across the country and around the world, at conferences from Canada to Romania, for over 30 years.

Sheila is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Registered Drama Therapist and a Board Certified Trainer. She has developed therapy techniques that integrate AEDP, EFT, drama therapy and somatic therapy to work with the
all-pervasive shame and trauma that underlie eating disorders, addictions and toxic family dynamics. Sheila has served as adjunct faculty at JFK University and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Her expertise, teaching, and writing contributions have been featured in numerous publications, including six books. 

Sheila offers therapy through her private practice in Berkeley and also offers consultation to therapists over Skype. 

Sheila can be reached at or by phone
at 415-820-3974. She also has her own website:

Photo Credit: Lea Delson

Photo Credit: Lea Delson

Bret Lyon, PhD, SEP has been a teacher of Somatic and Emotional Mindfulness for over 30 years and holds doctorates in both Psychology and Drama.

He is certified in Focusing and Somatic Experiencing® and has trained in EFT with Sue Johnson, in AEDP with Diana Fosha and in Coherence Therapy with Bruce Ecker.

Bret has also trained in Reichian Breathwork with Al Bauman, who worked directly with Wilhelm Reich. He finds his theater background very helpful with clients and especially in giving presentations.

Bret can be reached at or by phone at 510-420-1441. He also has his own website:

“Shame is something that gets between a person and their soul—their self-expression, their relationships, their sense of self. Much of the material I bring to these workshops comes from my many years of working with women who have eating disorders and coming to understand the all-pervasive shame that permeates their day to day experience. It also comes from my own journey in growing out of painful childhood shyness (a form of shame) and the residue that still affects me. I have supervised interns and helped them when they became lost and defeated trying to work with their clients’ shame and then went into their own shameful feelings of incompetence. I have also helped couples who are caught in a horrible dance of shame and blame. I have discovered ways to support people in confronting their shame and growing beyond it to a place of joy, creativity, and life force. It’s important to me to share my deepening understanding of shame—and how to heal it—through this training.”
— Sheila Rubin, MA, LMFT, RDT/BCT

“This workshop developed out of my life-changing experience in discovering and exploring my own bypassed shame – and my extensive reading of the shame literature developed by Sylvan Tompkins and his followers. As a teacher/consultant/developer of Somatic and Emotional Mindfulness, I found that my new ability to identify and explore shame vastly expanded my capacity to help clients to heal their shame and come to peace with themselves. It became clear to me that I needed to pass on what I had discovered. I am extremely gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response the Healing Shame workshops have received and I’m excited about having expanded into a fuller, more comprehensive training program.”
— Bret Lyon, PhD, SEP