Many people seek therapy to help with long-standing problems related to their sense of self. Self-esteem involves a combination of beliefs about oneself which includes emotions, appearance and behaviors and may be caused by many things including people who have hurt you in the past or one’s own harsh self-judgment. Many people find that their self esteem varies depending on the situation, or even day-to-day. People with poor self-esteem seem unable to look beyond any limitations and problems, missing the fuller, bigger picture of who they really are. They also tend to be less resilient and overreact when criticized. They may find themselves engaging in self-destructive and self-sabotaging behaviors, as well as obsessional behaviors, promiscuity, anger, aggression, blaming, avoidance of reality and isolation.
Therapy is an excellent way to gain understanding about the root of self-esteem problems, learn to challenge negative self-assessments and develop the skills to to help you feel more positive and cope with new challenges and personal disappointments. Psychotherapy can help improve both adolescent and adult self-esteem problems. In therapy, one learns to set realistic and appropriate goals, learn positive self-talk, identify and develop strengths, create a strong social support network and contribute to community and develop areas of interest. An important aspect of self-esteem psychotherapy includes identifying underlying blocking beliefs that may interfere with implementing positive change behaviors. EMDR therapy can be especially helpful for this aspect of treatment. In addition to building confidence and developing non-judgmental awareness and acceptance, self-esteem therapy helps in the following ways:
- Identify and celebrate personal strengths and achievements
- Participate in activities that build confidence
- Challenge negative self-talk and replace with accurate evaluations
- Learn to forgive oneself for past mistakes
- Accept mistakes and flaws but stop dwelling on them
- Learn to stop comparing and judging oneself against unreasonable standards
- Develop realistic, attainable goals
- Learn to take risks and do what you believe to be right
- Feel less dependent on what others think
As a psychotherapist with an eclectic approach, I use a variety of helpful techniques when working with adolescents and adults with self-esteem issues including EMDR therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT skills, Radical Acceptance and Mindfulness-based approaches.