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condition: low self-esteem

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Low Self-Esteem

CBT for Low Self-Esteem consists of developing a shared understanding of the key features of the problem. Pinpointing ways in which low self-confidence is played out in everyday life through our thoughts, feelings and actions provides us with tangible examples of how it may unwittingly be influencing us in subtle, yet powerful ways.

Developing an awareness of this through CBT can enable us to begin positively addressing this problem via a range of strategies. These may include:

  • Developing skills in noticing when negative thoughts about ourselves are influencing our feelings and behaviour
  • Learning to question the validity and value of such thoughts
  • Becoming aware of beliefs we hold that lead us to behave in ways that reinforce our negative self-view
  • Acting against these beliefs, trying out alternative approaches to situations that incorporate a more positive attitude towards ourselves

For many people, a negative self-image may be linked to events and experiences from early life and childhood. Understanding the context in which the person’s sense of self-worth has developed can also be helpful in beginning to change this perception.

Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem refers to the opinion we hold of ourselves, and the extent to which we value ourselves as people. Low self-esteem can result from specific and unpleasant incidents that occur in our lives, leading to a loss of self-belief and confidence, such as a period of bullying at work. Alternatively, it may consist of a long-held view of ourselves, distorting our opinion of those around us and the world in general.

Viewing the world through the prism of low self-esteem can have a huge impact on every domain of our experience. For example, it may lead to:

  • Depression: Both a chronic sense of unhappiness and also periods of intensely low mood
  • Anxiety: Feeling nervous and on edge in social situations, in the workplace and a general sense of being on edge and uneasy in a range of circumstances
  • Restricting our lifestyles: We may avoid situations and events where we fear our ‘inadequacies’ will be exposed, such as dating, meeting new people or going for promotion at work

Such difficulties arising from low self-esteem can clearly limit our opportunities to achieve a sense of happiness and well-being in our day to day lives, leading to frustration, disappointment and, as stated above, depression.


new course

Mindfulness Courses

These new courses are now being offered in Southwell, running for eight weeks at the Old Courthouse, Burgage Green, Southwell. The Mindfulness courses are... Read More

recommended reading

Overcoming Low Self-Esteem

Overcoming Low Self- Esteem: A Self-Help Guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques

1999) by Melanie Fennell. Published by Constable and Robinson Ltd. More Info

the therapists

Dr Tim Sweeney

Dr Tim Sweeney

Postgraduate Diploma (Cognitive Therapy), BSc (Hons), Specialist Practitioner - Mental Health, BA (Hons), Diploma in Nursing - Mental Health... Read More

What Is CBT?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that looks at how you think about yourself, the world and other people, and... Read more


All discussions that take place in your therapy sessions are treated as confidential...


What is Low Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem refers to the opinion we hold of ourselves, and the extent to which we value ourselves as people. Low self-esteem can result from...