Helping Clients Understand Guilt

Guilt is the feeling we experience when we realize we've made a mistake.

What is Guilt?

A father, embarrassed by his son's behaviour in a toy shop, reacts by slapping him. Later, he realises his mistake and feels guilty for his actions.

Guilt: Case Study

The Purpose  of Guilt

Guilt serves a purpose – it aims to prevent us from repeating the same mistake. In the case mentioned, the guilt is supposed to stop the father from slapping his son again.

Guilt as Negative Emotions

Although guilt has a purpose, it can be perceived as negative when we fail to learn from our mistakes.  In the previous example, the father's inability to find alternative ways to handle the situation led to a recurrence of anger and another slap.

Working with Guilt

To effectively work with guilt, it's crucial to learn from our mistakes. In the case of the father, if he learnt alternative strategies to deal with a crying child, guilt would have stopped him from slapping the child and the alternate behaviour would have helped him effectively deal with the situation.

Guilt and Learning  from Mistakes

Guilt becomes a problem when we don't learn from our mistakes. It's not guilt itself that's negative, but our inability to grow and change. We must cultivate  self-awareness, develop new approaches, and forgive ourselves when guilt becomes overwhelming.

Seeking Support

If you are a therapist who works with clients, struggling with guilt or other challenging emotions, you would love the Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy Approach.

Visit for more tips on becoming a better therapist.