Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Barragan, Armando


The focus of this quantitative research project is to explore feelings of self- blame and/or shame among people who were raised by a primary caregiver with severe mental illness. Examples of serious mental illness (SMI) that are used in this study are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder (MDD) if psychotic symptoms are present, or it is treatment-resistant. Twenty-six adult participants were recruited via the researcher’s social media account and through others’ sharing the research project information. Demographic data and data regarding self-blame and shame as a child and as an adult and if they felt their family, friendships, and intimate relationships have been affected as a result of these feelings were collected using Likert scale response options. Two dichotomous yes or no questions at the end of the survey regarding their use of therapy specifically for these issues or if they have sought therapy for other issues were asked. Results indicated that there is a statistically significant moderate positive correlation between having shame as an adult and as a child, meaning the higher the shame as a child, the higher as an adult. Furthermore, there was a stronger positive correlation between adulthood self-blame with adulthood shame, with high self-blame associated with high shame. The potential contributions to micro social work practice are beneficial to the validation of a client’s narrative and offer hope for meaningful and lasting change. Additionally, we can form more effective ways of assessing the person and develop more targeted individual and family interventions in therapy.