School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Jason Ward


Shame, Self-Esteem, Christian, Women, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Attachment


Counseling | Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences surrounding the self-esteem of evangelical Christian women with early shame experiences. The theory guiding this study was attachment theory as it explains self-esteem being rooted in early childhood through trust building, unconditional love, and security. The theoretical framework further illustrates the impact of self-esteem as life progresses due to a combination of positive and negative self-evaluations. Early shame experiences affect one’s self-esteem adversely. Low self-esteem could breed isolation once people fail to see their self-worthy in establishing meaningful connections, without which individuals lack the nurture needed to grow and sustain their well-being. Data were collected through an unstructured interview. The study findings revealed that (1) poor parental bonds, (2) environmental stressors, and (3) identification with God were significant shared experiences. This study provided implications for community stakeholders in the field of education, healthcare, and ministry. It implied having an early secure attachment and a positive relationship with God as mitigators to adverse mental health, as they facilitate healthy coping among individuals who have faced trauma such as early shame experiences.