CBT recognises that an important cause of low self-esteem is a vicious circle that starts with our beliefs. We all have fundamental beliefs about ourselves, fortunately most of these tend to be positive and support healthy functioning.

However, some of us have very negative self-beliefs that undermine our efforts in a broad range of spheres. When we examine these core beliefs those people with self-esteem problems most often report derivations of one or both of two key statements, namely: I am worthless and/or I am unlovable.

These statements lead us to make negative predictions, on how other people will treat us or how things will work out for us. This creates a form of anxiety as sufferers worry about such feared outcomes. These predictions and anxieties can in turn produce unhelpful behaviours as a means of attempting to cope with (or indeed avoid) our fears. Such unhelpful behaviours can, in turn, have undesirable consequences. This further complicates our lives and can also help further enforce our strongly held negative self-beliefs.

The circle is often completed in that people experience low mood when considering their lives, and its negative cycle yet again reinforcing their unhelpful thoughts about themselves.

A treatment protocol devised by Melanie Fennel at the University of Oxford will be used. Following assessment of a client’s specific thoughts, feelings and behaviours an individual problem conceptualisation is devised, which helps people in learning how they replicate this vicious circle. The next step is learning strategies to help break these unhelpful cycles.

Low self-esteem is associated with the formation and maintenance of a range of other psychological issues, whilst other psychological issues can in turn create low self-esteem. It is a common, distressing and sometimes disabling condition that can limit our life choices. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can bring significant change.

Self-esteem problems commonly helped with CBT include: work related problems, communication, assertiveness, relationship issues, self-identity, body image, sexual issues, presentation etc.

CBT to improve Self Esteem

Sessions will help you to understand how low self-esteem develops and what keeps it going, and then help you to make changes in your self-image so that you begin to feel more confident and accepting of yourself. As part of therapy the following issues will be examined; what low self-esteem is, How it can affect your life, How it may be linked to other problems, What it is that keeps low self-esteem going, How to recognize the anxieties and self-critical thoughts that lead to low self-esteem, How to identify your positive qualities, How to gain a more balanced view of yourself, How to start enjoying life, How to break the vicious cycle of low self-esteem, How to establish a new set of positive Rules for Living, How to change your central beliefs about yourself and How to develop an Action Plan for the future.

CBT uses a variety of cognitive behavioural therapy methods to help improve self-esteem by identifying the negative thoughts and subsequent feelings and behaviour that is creating the lack of self-esteem. Whether it is through being self-critical, doubting, avoidance of challenges and opportunities, sabotaging, or inflicting overly high expectations on yourself.

CBT helps improve self-esteem by teaching new ways of thinking through challenging the negative thoughts and gaining perspective and rationality via a range of techniques including belief change, hypothesis testing, behavioural experiments, relaxation and positive visualisation.