Grief and Toxic Shame in Treatment

Presented by Patti Ashley, PhD, LPC

Live Streaming July 9, 11, 16 & 18, 2024


12 Hours  |   Pre-approved for CEUs


This workshop will be live streaming to online participants in 4, 3 hour sessions on July 9, 11, 16 & 18, 2024 from 9:30am – 12:30pm PT (Vancouver, BC)
Please adjust your start time according to your specific time zone. 

Recorded footage and all course content (certificate, videos, quiz) will be available until August 19, 2024. Extensions cannot be granted under any circumstances.
Please allow 3 – 5 business days after the course airs for recorded footage to become available.

Registration will close on July 8, 2024. 

Grief and shame are sometimes misdiagnosed and misunderstood in treatment. The American Psychological Association is continuously updating the definition of grief. Shame is only briefly mentioned in the DSM-V as a self-conscious effect related to depression. Conflicting diagnoses and a sometimes-prevalent discomfort and misinterpretation of the deep pain related to grief can activate toxic shame in the nervous system.

Toxic shame is an overwhelming feeling of being tragically flawed and unworthy of love and belonging. Some shame inducing situations related to grief might include clients feeling like they should have been able to prevent a death, particularly in the case of suicide; or clients being talked out of their feelings and told to move on. These and other subtle messages can exacerbate toxic shame. Identifying and treating the implicit and non-verbal experiences of grief and shame is challenging because coping behaviors can mask the true underlying affects.

If grief isn’t fully expressed it can stay stuck in the body memory as unintegrated trauma, influencing individuals much like PTSD. Current trauma research reveals how the body holds the memory of implicit toxic shame and grief like trauma. Recognizing and working with the autonomic nervous system’s responses to grief and shame can be helpful when supporting someone through loss.

This workshop will pinpoint the relationship between grief and toxic shame. You will learn how to identify the subtle cues of unexpressed grief and toxic shame. You will also learn person-centered, right-brain, relational techniques to help your clients grieve losses to completion and release core shame. Therapeutic empathy techniques that contribute to neuroplasticity in the right brain and support the grieving process will also be explored.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

  • Defining Grief and Toxic Shame
  • Changing diagnoses of grief in the DSM
  • Definitions of grief
  • Stages of grief
  • Grief and praise: A right brain perspective
  • Defining shame and toxic shame
  • Attachment origins of toxic shame
  • Early relationships and emotional safety

Thursday, July 11, 2024

  • The ANS, Polyvagal Theory, Trauma, Grief, and Shame
  • The Vagus Nerve
  • ANS hierarchy
  • Social engagement system
  • Strategies of disconnection
  • Therapeutic empathy
  • Emotions and the right brain
  • Tolerating grief and shame
  • Self-compassion

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

  • Emotional Literacy and Agency
  • Stages of grief
  • What to say to people dealing with a loss
  • Developmentally appropriate ways to help children with grief
  • Funerals are for the living
  • Anger as an important part of grief
  • Bridging Paradox
  • Excavating emotions
  • Therapist Self-Assessment
  • Compassion Fatigue

Thursday, July 18, 2024

  • Treatment Tools and Techniques
  • Activating the right brain
  • Neuroplasticity and epigenetics
  • Creative expression
  • Journal and letter writing
  • Prosody, music, poetry, and sound
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Nature
  • Movement and yoga
  • Dreams, imagination, and visualization
  • Being an enlightened witness
  • Define grief and core shame
  • Identify how unexpressed grief can induce shame
  • Develop an understanding of attachment and early childhood influences on shame
  • Recognize the role of the ANS in grief and shame
  • Explore therapeutic empathy
  • Practice right brain psychotherapy techniques
  • Become an enlightened witness
  • Learn what to say and not to say when someone dies
  • Identify developmentally appropriate ways to help children with grief

Clinical Professionals: All mental health professionals including, but not limited to Clinical Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Social Workers, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Hospice and Palliative Care Workers, School Counsellors, Youth Workers, Mental Health Workers, Addiction Specialists, Marital & Family Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants and all professionals looking to enhance their therapeutic skills.

International workshop presenter, author, and psychotherapist Patti Ashley, Ph.D, LPC, has integrated 40 years of experience in special education, child development, and psychology into her wholehearted work as a psychotherapist, author, international speaker, and authenticity architect coach. She brings unique insights into the identification and treatment of shame, trauma, grief, and dysfunctional family patterns.

Dr. Ashley owns and operates Authenticity Architects in Boulder, Colorado. Her inimitable Authenticity Architects model facilitates long-term changes in the brain and nervous system, helping clients break through unconscious barriers and rediscover a sense of self-love, belonging, and connection.

Patti has counselled a myriad of individuals, couples, families and groups in mental health agencies, psychiatric hospitals, and private practice settings. She also has many years of experience developing continuing education courses for physicians, hospital wellness programs, universities, and other organizations.

Dr. Ashley holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in psychology from the Union Institute and University, a Master of Education Degree in early childhood from Old Dominion University, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in special education from James Madison University. She is the author of Living in the Shadow of the Too-Good Mother Archetype (2014), Letters to Freedom (2019), and Shame-Informed Therapy: Treatment Strategies to Overcome Core Shame and Reconstruct the Authentic Self (2020). 

For more information, please visit

RegistrationEarly bird FeeRegular Fee
Individual Enrollment469.00N/A

All fees are in Canadian dollars ($CAD).

Group rates and student rates are available. Please contact for more information.

  • Canadian Psychological Association
    The Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers (NLASW) accept CPA-approved continuing education credits