School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Nicole DiLella


Shame, Secrets, Disclosure, Use of Technology, Online Format


Counseling | Psychology


Shame is a common experience for all humans. When shame is high for an individual, it can be debilitating and even paralyzing for that person. Shame can have a negative effect on how a person feels about oneself, destroy relationships, and lead to mental health disorders. In the counseling office, shame can delay or interfere with mental health care and create a barrier in the therapeutic alliance. Shame is often about being seen and tied to a distressing secret one holds. With the increase of online communication, people have become more comfortable sharing in a digital format. The purpose of this study was to explore whether sharing a shame-evoking secret in an online format can reduce the shame one is experiencing. Participants (n = 1002) were recruited via an online survey platform. The participants who indicated they had a shame-evoking secret were randomly assigned to one of two groups, one group had the opportunity to share the secret before taking shame inventories, and the other took the inventories without having shared their stories. The shame inventories included the experience of shame scale, the external and internal shame scale, and the other as shamer scale – 2. The story-telling group scored slightly lower across all shame inventories than the non-story-telling group. While the results were not enough to declare statistical significance, they are meaningful in opening the door to further research.