CBT for Low Self Esteem
Low Self Esteem and CBT
When opening up a dictionary of psychology there are many terms which are interchangeable with the term low self esteem. A poor self image in the literature has the simple meaning that the picture in a person’s mind’s eye of how they view their physical attributes: body, self image, and their success in mastering their environment. A persons success, competence, intelligence and their overall self worth is distorted by dysfunctional the picture they hold of themselves.
Self image is often described as a circus mirror which dramatically twists size and shape into ungainly proportions which in no way resemble how a person actually appears. This self perception of how we view ourselves, our perception of how others see us, and the thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves, our world, and our future, affect three areas:-
- Self respect
- Self-worth and
- Self acceptance.
The self esteem quotient is the distance between how we see our ideal self in contrast to our real self. The greater the distance between the ideal and the real self, the lower the self esteem. The smaller the gap between the two the higher their perceived self-esteem or self worth.
When clients hold negative beliefs about themselves, which keep them from achieving the goals they set by being critical, punishing, and negatively evaluating their abilities, this leads to poor self-esteem.
CBT for Low Self Esteem
When the opinions we have about ourselves and our overall evaluation of self worth is negative this correlates highly with low self esteem. In the assessment phase of CBT client and therapist collaboratively draw up a problem list of the things they want to competently and effectively master as a result of treatment.
CBT teaches clients to improve their self esteem by first recognising the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour (what to do). By teaching clients to first identify these negative automatic thoughts, identifying the underlying errors in their thinking and challenging them by rewriting the thoughts in a more alternative and balanced way, thoughts become hypothesis to test rather than truths to be indiscriminately taken on board and acted upon.
Examples of negative thoughts:
I am not good enough
I am stupid
I am ugly
I am inferior
I am fat
I am unlovable
I am weak/vulnerable
I am a bad person
I am a failure
I hate myself
CBT believes that it is not what we experience but how we interpret it that determines how we are. An information processing model where changing our interpretation of ourselves, the world, the future, changes how you a person feels about themselves.
CBT provides an individualised programme using, relaxation, imagery, and behavioural experiments, standard CBT for negative belief change, and core belief work for early life problems which, if left untreated, can lead to relapse.
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This service would appeal to client's for a variety of reasons.
- Clients location would make it difficult / impossible to access Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy.
- Clients time-pressure, work deadlines, and work-based travel make it difficult to commit for the normal counselling time-scale.
- Clients family commitments make it easier to have treatment on-line at home.
- Clients prefer an initial face to face assessment, and then combine both treatment modalities.