Evaluating the “Sleeper in Psychopathology”: A Review of the Thurston Cradock Test of Shame (TCTS)


Julie Cradock O’Leary, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. She provides therapy and psychological assessments to  children, adolescents and adults. She utilizes a psychodynamic approach that is influenced by self psychology. Dr. O’Leary is a member of the American Psychological Association, International Society for the Rorschach and Projective Methods, Society for Personality Assessment, and Therapeutic Assessment Institute. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Personality Assessment and is on the board of assessors for Rorschachiana. She is co-author of the Thurston Cradock Test of Shame (TCTS; Thurston & Cradock O’Leary, 2009). She enjoys giving workshops and presentations on shame and the TCTS. Dr. O’Leary provides consultation, as well as TCTS scoring and interpretation services to help therapists better understand the shame dynamics in their clients. She collaborates on shame research with professionals and graduate students.

Topic Overview

Shame is a profound sense of being deficient, and feeling bad about who you are. In response to shame, most individuals strive to hide that which mortifies them. Called the “sleeper in psychopathology” (Lewis, 1987), shame often underlies relationship dynamics and is obscured by psychological symptoms. Many “presenting problems” are, in fact, related to ways that people defend against shame (e.g., depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, angry outbursts). It is imperative that assessors consider and evaluate shame, lest a key component be missed. For years, the only available shame instruments were fairly face-valid, paper-and-pencil measures. Effectively measuring shame with such measures was complicated by the natural tendency to hide one’s shame, particularly from an evaluator. The Thurston Cradock Test of Shame (TCTS; Thurston & Cradock O’Leary, 2009), a card-based storytelling task, was developed to more fully capture and understand shame dynamics. This talk will illustrate how the TCTS effectively assesses the multidimensional internal, interpersonal and behavioral aspects of shame. In this brief review of the TCTS, attendees will learn the basics of administration, along with scoring and interpretation of TCTS protocols. Techniques for using TCTS cards in therapeutic interventions will also be provided.

Workshop Objectives

  1. Describe 3 presenting problems that may indicate underlying shame
  2. Explain why identifying and evaluating shame can be difficult for clinicians
  3. List 3 defenses against shame that are measured by the TCTS
  4. Explain the term “unresolved/ambivalent” resolution
  5. Identify two clinical uses for the TCTS

Register Here!

Tentative Schedule

11:30-12 Registration and Lunch (provided by CAS)

12-1 Presentation

Continuing Education

This workshop qualifies for 1.0 hours of CE credits for psychologists. This program is co- sponsored by the Society for Personality Assessment (SPA). SPA is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. CE credits will be available for an additional $15 (see registration and payment form below).


From University Blvd. between Yale and Evans, go west on Harvard (there is a Grease Monkey at that intersection) along the northern edge of the park approximately four blocks until the road ends and you can only turn to the right. Continue another block into a cul-de-sac, and the Ammi Hyde building will be on your right. The address “2450” is marked by a red sign on the lower level of the building. Enter the door above this sign by going up the steps.


Parking is available on the streets around the south end of campus. The tight parking around the university is not as bad on Fridays or weekend days, but still expect to walk several blocks (even the closest parking structure is a few blocks away). Be careful not to park where parking is limited to two hours, unless you plan to move your car during the meeting (not recommended). Non-timed parking is available on Gaylord St, which is one block west of and parallel to Vine Street. If it would be difficult for you to walk a few blocks, please let us know, and we will do our best to help.

Special Accommodations

The GSPP is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. Please feel free to notify the committee if any additional accommodations are needed. Also please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions.

 University of Denver, 2450 South Vine Street- Room 133
 Presenter: Julie Cradock O'Leary, Ph.D.