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4 min read

CBT For Self-Esteem: How Therapy Can Boost Confidence

therapy session in progress


Key Takeaways:

  • Self-esteem is often caused by unhealthy and inaccurate self-thought.
  • Therapy can help to restructure thee thoughts to be more accurate and less distressing.
  • CBT is often the recommended modality of therapy for self esteem issues.

One of the most common misconceptions about therapy is that it's reserved only for those with severe and chronic mental health conditions, like major depressive disorder or panic disorder.

This is not the case at all. While therapy can certainly help with those conditions, there is absolutely no limitation on who can go to therapy.

In fact, many patients attend therapy in order to help with things that everyone, at one point or another, will encounter, like:

  • Issue
  • Major life changes
  • Navigating a promotion
  • Getting laid-off
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced

There are a million reasons you can go to therapy. This includes one of the most common mental health concerns in the modern world: low self-esteem.

Let's talk about low self-esteem and how therapy may be able to help you boost your confidence!

CBT for Self-Esteem Resources on This Page:

How exactly does self-esteem work?

Does CBT help with low self-esteem?

What can I expect from self-esteem therapy?

CBT for Self-Esteem Issues in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

How exactly does self-esteem work?

Usually, when someone has low self-esteem, people refer to it as a lack of something. For example, you might say someone with low self-esteem has a lack of confidence.

In reality, low self-esteem is caused by a surplus. Those with low self-esteem have a surplus of interruptive, negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves.

For example, at a social gathering, someone with "normal" levels of self-esteem can relax and laugh along with the conversation.

By contrast, someone with low self-esteem might interrupt their own thoughts every few minutes with some negative and inaccurate self-assessment, like "I'm being weird. They don't like me."

Because of this, cognitive behavior therapy can be very effective for those with low self-esteem.

Let's find out how.

Definition Template (8)

Does CBT help with low self-esteem?

Yes, most studies show that CBT, when administered by a licensed therapist, is very effective for raising self esteem.

Beyond simply having someone to talk to and get assurance from, CBT teaches cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring is a process by which a patient can interrupt negative thought patterns and rebuild them in a healthier, more constructive way.

For example, after attending therapy, our hypothetical patient may start the thought process of "I'm being weird."

But because of the skills and coping techniques they learned in therapy, they may be able to interrupt that thought process: "It's very unlikely that anyone is thinking that about me, since the conversation is continuing as normal."

That's just an example, and not necessarily what your therapist will recommend, but it represents the concept of CBT as it relates to self-esteem.

CBT has been developed over many years and is backed by tons of evidence, so we know it can work. It's a scientific, medical process designed to help people with mental health concerns.

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What can I expect from self-esteem therapy?

Therapists vary, but usually CBT for self-esteem starts with a general discussion about your overall mental health.

Self-esteem issues can often be standalone, but more often they're related to or comorbid with other mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety.

You therapist will want to determine if your low self-esteem may be related to a deeper underlying condition, since that will inform their treatment plan.

They'll also want to determine if some past or ongoing circumstance is related to your low self-esteem. The treatment for depression is certainly different than the treatment for, as an example, bad friends.

Once any causes are determined (or ruled out), the actual process of CBT will begin.

CBT For Self-Esteem Step #1: Identifying Negative Beliefs About Yourself

The first step of CBT is identifying the negative thought patterns that are contributing to your low self-esteem.

This usually relates to one or more cognitive distortions that you have about yourself.

A cognitive distortion is a thought or feeling that is incorrect, unreliable, and unhealthy. The fact that they are distortions means that the person experiencing them rarely notices that they are inaccurate.

There are many types of cognitive distortions, which can all contribute to low self-esteem.

Some of the most common are:

  • Mind reading - Assuming you know what someone is thinking, usually in a negative way.
  • Disqualifying the positive - Not giving yourself the credit you deserve; attributing any achievement or progress to luck or external force.
  • Emotional reasoning - Assuming that because you feel a certain way, the cause of that feeling must be true.

Self-awareness of these distortions can go a long way. Once they're identified, you'll likely start to notice them in your day-to-day life.

Once your therapist feels you have a solid understanding of these distortions, and the fact that your brain can "trick" you, they'll move on to step two.

CBT For Self-Esteem Step #2: Cognitive Restructuring

Once your negative self-thought patterns are identified, your therapist will begin to guide you through cognitive restructuring: the process of changing those distortions into healthy, more accurate, and less distressing thoughts.

The way this step works varies so broadly between patients and therapists that it's impossible to give a specific outline. In general, you can expect to practice interrupting negative beliefs with the guidance of your therapist, who will ensure you change them into something more accurate and productive.

The reason this must be administered by a licensed therapist is that, when treating someone for low self-esteem, there is a chance that it can go too far the other way.

If administered by someone without the proper training, self-esteem therapy can result in cognitive distortions on the other side of the spectrum:

  • Arrogance
  • A lack of personal accountability
  • Disregard for social politeness

A licensed therapist is able to treat low self-esteem in a way that makes you healthier in all respects.

CBT for Self-Esteem Issues in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, all of our CBT therapists are doctoral-level, giving them special insight into the mental health concerns of our Austin community.

Equipped with their training, and maintaining a high level of availability, our dedicated team of psychologists is ready to help you find the confidence and peace of mind you deserve.

Give us a call to be matched with a therapist, or schedule an appointment online.

Feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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