Homeworks and Handouts for Clients

Below are homeworks for fostering greater self-compassion in people who are experiencing shame and self-criticism. I've written out some general guidelines on the use of homework with highly self-critical and shame prone people.


Building awareness of self-criticism as thinking


People who are highly self-critical typically have difficulty seeing their self-evaluations and criticisms as thinking, but instead see themselves as actually “being” what those thoughts say. Initial steps in working with self-criticism and shame typically involve developing awareness of the process of thinking self-critical thoughts, rather than simply “being” a damaged or weak self. Often, this is a big part of the focus in the early stages of therapy. 


Lovingkindness sequence for highly self-critical and shame prone people

We have developed a sequence of lovingkindness meditations specifically tailored to highly shame prone and self-critical people. Instructions on how to use it are here.


Homework exercises from the AWC Blog:


  • Walk the Talk Skill Handout -- This handout may help people who are highly self-critical benefit from feedback
  • Four Emotion Systems Handout -- This handout outlines four neuroscience-backed emotion systems that influence how we perceive the world and manage our emotional states
  • Lovingkindness Meditation Tracking Worksheet -- This worksheet guides clients to track their experiences with this beneficial, though often-times challenging, meditation. One way to help support and sustain behavior change is to track our behavior and its consequences
  • Learning about Shame Worksheet -- With this handout, clients can explore their experiences of shame while the shame is occurring and/or shortly afterwards
  • Self-Esteem versus Self-Compassion Handout -- Clients can learn about the perils of self-esteem, and the benefits of self-compassion with this handout 
  • Recognizing trustworthy others with BRAVING -- You can use this handout to guide clients through a series of questions to help them decide with whom to disclose shame-related content. You can also use it  as a perspective taking tool to help clients determine the extent to which they are treating themselves in a trustworthy manner
  • Shame Psychoeducation Handout -- Clients who are experiencing a high degree of shame can learn about the forms and functions of shame and how their individual shame shows up in their lives. 
  • History of Compassion and Connection Experiences Handout -- In this post, we share handouts that may help people struggling with self-criticism and/or shame understand how their self-criticism or self-hatred may have come about
  • Collaborative Case Conceptualization with Highly Shame-Prone and Self-Critical Clients -- We describe a case conceptualization framework that draws upon Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Affective Science. You can download it, along with other client handouts, in this post
  • Feeling the Impact of Self-Criticism Handout - Through closely attending to the emotional reaction to self-criticism, people can begin to feel the real impact of this way of relating to oneself
  • Self-Compassion Daily Rating Scale - Research shows that behaviors that we track are likely to change as a result of self monitoring. This strategy can be used to develop more awareness of self-critical tendencies and foster daily experiences of self-compassion
  • Self-Critic Job Description - This is a defusion exercise for working with clients' relationship to their self-critic 

Homework exercises from Kristin Neff:



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  • Joseph Mary
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