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Shame Resilience Rising Strong Workshop



The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall. Rising Strong is a book about what it takes to get back up and how owning our stories of struggle gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle can be our greatest call to courage and the clearest path to a wholehearted life.

Every several years I go on a journey to enter new concepts into my practice of psychotherapy. Over the last year I have been studying the work of Brené Brown Ph.D. regarding shame, shame resilience, empathy, vulnerability, and worthiness. I was originally introduced to Brené’s famous Ted talk videos (see below links) several years back. At the time, I thought they were interesting but also a bit hyperbolic… a faddish sort of thing based on quick fixes and ‘not really doing the hard work.’ It wasn’t until I spoke with a patient ironically, and then a colleague that I decided to read one of her books. Her work resonated deeply with me and to my delight I learned it was all research-based. Her research on shame resilience was not based on hundreds of subjects, but thousands, and that got my attention.

I was so excited with what I was reading and learning that I was compelled to incorporate this knowledge into my work with my current patients. So in May of this year I decided to fly down to New Orleans and participate and become trained in the experiential process groups based on her research. The training required me to actually go through the model with 12 other therapist. To say the least, the work was intensive, insightful, eye-opening, and rewarding. I gained insight into my own shame, self compassion or lack there of, vulnerability, and worthiness. A little bit about myself… since the age of 22 I have been in therapy on and off, but mostly on. I have grappled with anxiety and depression as far back as I can remember. You name it, I have tried it. In my own personal and professional work, the focus had always been on anxiety. A lot of the work touched on guilt and dabbled a little in shame.

My experience in New Orleans and the weeks that followed was incredible. My group and I dissected shame, our own personal stories, as we reckoned and rumbled with our own negative narratives. The metaphoric constructs taught in this process gave me the tools to deal with personal and professional issues in my life. By personal, I mean relationships; with myself, my family, my friends, acquaintances, and even strangers walking down the street. By professional issues I mean just that…shame creeps into our lives and destroys our creativity and ideas, telling us we are not good enough, don’t speak up, play it safe, and don’t take risks. Risk-taking creates uncertainty and uncertainty creates anxiety and fear. We’d rather play it safe by sitting on the sidelines where there is certainty and safety but also stagnation, boredom, and often times regret and loneliness.

Since May, I have began to introduce the concepts of shame into my work with current patients. And the results have been incredible. One of the concepts that I have brought into the work is common humanity… We are not alone and our struggles are everyone’s struggles. Another concept and the antidote to shame is vulnerability as well as empathy. I have also brought into our sessions the idea of negative narratives that run through our unconscious, sucking the life out of us, killing our enthusiasm, hindering us from enjoying life and castrating our creativity (okay so I got a little psychoanalytic there.) Often times we feel we are not enough and that we are lacking in some area. The truth is our authenticity is enough; however peeling back the layers of armor and allowing our authenticity to show takes courage and self compassion.

So you might be wondering, “Why in the world would I spend three days talking about shame and vulnerability?” ‘Yuck’… that doesn’t sound very fun. Well, you might be surprised. Research has shown that people who know how to reckon with shame and vulnerability have more satisfying personal relationships, and live more successful careers. Normalizing failure results in more risk taking and greater success in all areas of your life. The key is getting curious about the negative narratives that are developed about ourselves, analyzing them, and then developing new narratives through clarity and new experiences. The workshop is eye-opening and dare I say enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it is intensive and does require commitment and dedication. It is an investment in yourself, your emotions, your time, and financially. So please be prepared to dedicate the entire weekend to yourself and others in the work group that weekend. In committing and showing up, you are already practicing vulnerability and reckoning which shame. It’s time to but into practice what we have been exploring!

Now for those of you I haven’t seen in a while, you might be wondering, “Do I have shame?” The answer is “YES”…we all do, and we always will. As human beings we are wired for shame.

With that said, as I have spoken with several of you, on September 15th through the 17th, I will be offering an intensive workshop called Rising Strong™. The objectives of this workshop are: to lead and participate in a conversation about vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness; to learn to access information on emotion and how emotion is connected to behavior and thought; to awaken your curiosity about emotions, your narratives, and an understanding how they affect your everyday life; and how to use this process at both the micro and macro levels to increase wholeheartedness in living, loving, and leading.

Rising Strong Shame Workshop Details

September 15th through the 17th

The workshop will begin on Friday at 5 PM to 9PM. On Saturday we will begin at 9AM and continue until 5PM. On     Sunday we will begin at 9AM and end around 2PM.

There is a required reading for the workshop that helps explain the concepts we will be putting into action. The book is Rising Strong™ by Brené Brown. You can get it hardback, on Kindle, and Audible.

The cost of the workshop for the weekend is $500. This includes coffee, light snacks, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. I understand that $500 may seem like a lot for some of you. Keep in mind that it is an investment in yourself and if one concept resonates with you the money is well spent. With that said, I understand that money may be an issue and I do not want that to deter you from coming. Please speak with me and we may be able to workout the payment plan if finances are a concern. If you have a friend, partner, or other family members who may be interested, I am willing to offer $100 discount from your fee. Your referral must participate in a screening interview with me, which cost $150. If after the interview we both decide to move forward, the $150 will be counted toward their cost of the workshop.

Requirements for the workshop: 1)  you must have read the book Rising Strong™ prior to the workshop and 2) show up with an open heart and mind. Also, if you are gay or bisexual, I highly recommend that you read the book The Velvet Rage. I believe it will add to your experience.

If you are interested, please send me an email as soon as you can to joseph@DistrictCounseling.com or complete the contact form on this page. You can also call me at 202.641.5335



The Daring WayTM method is based on the research of Brené Brown, Ph.D. LMSW. Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work.

She has spent the past fifteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong.

Her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 25 million viewers.

Brené is the Founder and CEO for The Daring WayTM, COURAGEworks – an online learning platform that offers classes for individuals and families on braver living and loving, and BRAVE LEADERS INC – a platform that brings her latest research on leadership development and culture change to teams, leaders, entrepreneurs, change makers, and culture shifters.


Links to Brené Brown TED





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Velvet Rage Book Process Group

Velvet Rage


This group is centered around the book “The Velvet Rage” which deals with the ongoing issues of finding authenticity as gay and bisexual men.  It’s creative in that it is a process oriented book club where there is both discuss and self-reflection.  The objective of the velvet rage group is to help identify one’s stage of development through shared experiences, and to shift from unrecognized shame and loneliness to authenticity.  The principles of the group include understanding, openness and non judgmental reflection, insight and awareness.

A recent article in the Huffington Post, ‘The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness’, stated that although equality is being achieved, ‘the rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”’

Alan Downs writes in his book, The Velvet Rage, ‘As gay men, we are uniquely qualified to bring the message of compassion, forgiveness, and self-acceptance — for we have been there and know how important it is to be proud of who we are.  The destructive influences of shame are everywhere in our world, and it is my sincere hope that this book will start a movement that…pushes us on the world stage as the leader of self-acceptance and awareness…to offer compassion, acceptance, and most of all, the hope that comes from knowing that no matter who you are or what you have done, you are worthy of love.’

The cornerstone of the The Velvet Rage is that ‘understanding our differences, loving ourselves without judgement, and at the same time noticing what makes us fulfilled, empowered, and loving men….[yet at the same time] while we are different, we are at the same time very similar to all others’ in our daily struggles.  This is what makes the group so powerful.

For more information complete a contact form or email me at joseph@districtcouseling.com.  Visit my location and rates page for that information.

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