Self Esteem Therapy: A Complete Guide

Self-esteem is a critical aspect of our well-being, and it impacts all areas of our lives. If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, know that you’re not alone. We will cover everything you need to know about self-esteem therapy: what it is, how it works, and its effectiveness in improving your self-esteem.

Finally, we will share tips on how you can maintain healthy self-esteem even after completing therapy. Join us in this journey towards greater self-awareness and improved self-confidence.

Types of Therapies for Self-Esteem

When it comes to self-esteem, there are various types of therapies available that can help individuals on their journey towards improved self-worth and confidence. Each therapy approach offers unique techniques and strategies, allowing individuals to find the one that resonates with them the most.

Remember that no single therapy works for everyone. Different approaches work in different ways, catering to the diverse needs and preferences of individuals. By exploring the various options available, you can find the therapy that aligns with your unique circumstances, leading to positive changes and personal growth.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on improving self-esteem. By incorporating mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills, DBT equips individuals with the tools needed to manage emotions, build self-compassion, and enhance their sense of self-worth.

The structured nature of DBT therapy sessions, which involve both individual and group components, allows for targeted and comprehensive support. This therapy can be particularly effective for individuals facing self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and emotional instability.

By practicing DBT techniques, such as being kinder to oneself and challenging negative thoughts, individuals can cultivate healthier self-esteem and develop a more positive outlook.

DBT encourages individuals to explore new ways of thinking, behaving, and interacting with others, ultimately improving not only their self-esteem but also their overall well-being.

Examples of techniques:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Dedicate a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgment.
  • Distress Tolerance: When faced with a stressful situation, try the “STOP” technique: Stop, Take a breath, Observe, and Proceed.
  • Emotion Regulation: Maintain a daily emotion journal. Note down your feelings and the events that triggered them to identify patterns.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic approach that aims to assist individuals in identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs. By doing so, CBT helps individuals develop healthier coping strategies and address cognitive distortions that may be contributing to poor self-esteem.

One of the key aspects of CBT is its effectiveness in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including those that impact self-esteem. Through CBT, individuals are encouraged to make positive changes and reinforce their sense of self-worth.

This therapy can be particularly beneficial during adolescence, when self-esteem affects various aspects of life, such as relationships, and school performance. By working with a trained therapist, individuals can learn new ways to navigate challenges, embrace new experiences, and ultimately build a more positive self-image.

Examples of techniques:

  • Thought Record: Keep a diary of negative thoughts. Challenge and reframe them with positive affirmations.
  • Behavioral Activation: Engage in activities that you enjoy or once enjoyed to combat feelings of sadness or depression.
  • Exposure Therapy: Gradually face and control your fears instead of avoiding them.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that can be beneficial for individuals struggling with low self-esteem. During EMDR sessions, traumatic events are recalled while specific eye movements are performed, helping to desensitize the negative emotions associated with those experiences.

This form of therapy has shown effectiveness in treating various mental health conditions, including low self-esteem.

By engaging in EMDR, individuals have the opportunity to reprocess negative beliefs about themselves and cultivate self-compassion. It is crucial to work with a licensed therapist who is trained in EMDR to ensure safety and effectiveness.

EMDR provides a unique approach to address the impact of past traumas on self-esteem and offers a path towards healing and personal growth.

Examples of techniques:

  • Safe Place Visualization: Imagine a place where you feel completely safe and relaxed. Visit this place in your mind whenever you feel overwhelmed.
  • Bilateral Stimulation: Try tapping your thighs alternately while recalling a distressing event, mimicking the bilateral stimulation used in EMDR.

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy delves into the realm of relationships and communication skills, aiming to enhance self-esteem through healthy connections. By addressing interpersonal difficulties, this therapeutic approach explores how they impact one’s self-concept. It equips individuals with tools and strategies to navigate challenging social situations.

By fostering effective communication and promoting understanding, it empowers individuals to establish and maintain fulfilling connections. This form of therapy acknowledges the importance of human beings’ need for social interactions and emphasizes the value of positive relationships in building self-esteem.

Through interpersonal therapy, individuals can gain insights into their own relationship dynamics and explore new ways to engage, ultimately leading to improved self-esteem and a greater sense of self-worth.

Examples of techniques:

  • Communication Skills: Practice active listening in conversations and express your feelings using “I” statements.
  • Relationship Audit: Reflect on your relationships and identify any patterns of conflict or areas for improvement.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps individuals develop a positive self-image. This therapy focuses on acceptance, mindfulness, and values-based living. ACT involves identifying and challenging negative self-talk with self-compassion. Instead of being held back by self-doubt or fear, ACT encourages individuals to focus on their values and take action towards fulfilling them.

Working with a trained therapist can help navigate the process of ACT and make progress towards greater self-esteem and confidence. Through cognitive behavior therapy techniques, individuals learn to recognize unhelpful thoughts and replace them with kinder, more compassionate ones.

By integrating physical health and well-being into the therapy process, ACT addresses the impact of poor self-esteem on various aspects of life, including relationships, new experiences, and career success. ACT empowers individuals to overcome self-limiting beliefs and embrace their true potential.

Examples of techniques:

  • Values Assessment: List down your core values and assess if your actions align with them.
  • Defusion Techniques: When faced with a negative thought, say it out loud in a funny voice or sing it. This helps in detaching from the thought.

Solution Focused Therapy

Solution-focused therapy, also known as brief therapy, is a therapeutic approach that emphasizes exploring solutions rather than dwelling on problems.

This approach helps individuals identify their strengths and resources, empowering them to find solutions to their challenges. By promoting a positive outlook, solution-focused therapy encourages clients to set achievable goals and make positive changes in their lives.

Unlike traditional therapy, which may delve into the past, this therapy focuses on the present and future, emphasizing the client’s expertise in finding solutions. By adopting a solution-focused mindset, individuals can gain a sense of empowerment and take active steps towards improving their well-being.

This therapy is particularly effective in helping individuals with poor self-esteem because it encourages them to recognize their own abilities and develop new ways of thinking and behaving that foster self-confidence. It is about discovering the potential within oneself and using it to create positive change.

Solution-focused therapy is not only beneficial for individuals struggling with self-esteem issues but also for those facing various other challenges in life.

Examples of techniques:

  • Goal Setting: Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for yourself.
  • Exception Finding: Recall times when the problem you’re facing wasn’t present or was less intense.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy delves into the depths of unconscious processes and childhood experiences, shining a light on the hidden influences that shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By exploring these unseen forces, we can gain valuable insight into ourselves, unraveling the mysteries that have hindered our self-esteem.

This therapeutic approach aims to uncover and resolve unresolved conflicts from our past, releasing their grip on our present. It provides a safe and non-judgmental environment for deep self-exploration, allowing us to confront the wounds that have held us back.

Through psychodynamic therapy, we can start to heal and build a stronger foundation of self-worth. As we gain awareness and understanding, we can transform our relationship with ourselves and others, embracing new ways of thinking and relating.

In this journey towards improved self-esteem, psychodynamic therapy offers a compassionate guide, helping us navigate the complexities of our inner world.

Examples of techniques:

  • Dream Journal: Keep a record of your dreams. They can offer insights into unconscious feelings and thoughts.
  • Free Association: Set aside time to let your thoughts flow freely without judgment, either in writing or aloud.

Rational Emotive Therapy

Rational emotive therapy, also known as RET or REBT, is a form of cognitive behavior therapy. It focuses on challenging irrational beliefs and thoughts that contribute to poor self-esteem. By doing so, this therapy helps individuals develop more realistic and healthier perspectives. Rational emotive therapy can be particularly effective in enhancing self-esteem by reducing self-critical thoughts and encouraging individuals to reframe negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones.

When we have low self-esteem, it affects various aspects of our lives, including our relationships and physical health. Rational emotive therapy aims to promote self-acceptance and self-compassion by helping individuals understand that they are not defined by their past mistakes or shortcomings. Instead, it empowers them to embrace their strengths and capabilities, allowing them to build a solid foundation for their self-esteem.

Through rational emotive therapy, individuals learn to challenge unhelpful beliefs and thoughts, explore new ways of thinking and responding, and embrace new experiences. By questioning negative self-perceptions and focusing on the good things in their lives, individuals can gradually improve their self-esteem and lead more fulfilling lives.

Examples of techniques:

  • ABC Technique: Identify the Activating event, your Belief about it, and the Consequent emotion or behavior.
  • Dispute Irrational Beliefs: Challenge and question any irrational beliefs you hold.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy delves into the profound influence of personal stories on individual identity and self-concept. By recognizing that we are the authors of our own narratives, this therapeutic approach empowers individuals to rewrite their stories in ways that promote self-empowerment and resilience.

It sheds light on strengths and encourages individuals to view themselves as active agents in shaping their own lives. This process fosters a sense of agency and liberation, allowing for the exploration of different perspectives and the discovery of new possibilities.

With a focus on the power of storytelling, narrative therapy helps individuals reframe their experiences and challenges, ultimately improving self-esteem. Even reading poems on self-esteem can contribute to building better narratives. By challenging limiting beliefs and embracing the resilience inherent in human beings, this therapeutic approach offers a kinder, more compassionate lens through which to view oneself and navigate the complexities of life.

Examples of techniques:

  • Life Timeline: Create a timeline of significant events in your life and reflect on their meanings.
  • Re-authoring: Rewrite negative events from your past with a positive or neutral outcome.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness-based therapy, one of the many types of therapies for self-esteem, focuses on cultivating present-moment awareness and non-judgment. It encourages individuals to observe their thoughts and emotions without attachment.

By doing so, mindfulness-based therapy can promote self-compassion, a crucial aspect of improving self-esteem. In this therapy, individuals learn to respond to negative thoughts and beliefs with kindness and understanding. Through mindfulness-based therapy, they develop a deeper sense of self-awareness and emotional regulation.

The practice of mindfulness allows individuals to become more conscious of how their thoughts and emotions impact their self-esteem. It helps them recognize that negative thoughts are not accurate reflections of who they are as human beings.

Mindfulness-based therapy can be a valuable tool in exploring new ways of perceiving oneself and engaging with the world. By approaching self-esteem in this mindful and compassionate manner, individuals can foster resilience and embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth.

Examples of techniques:

  • Body Scan: Spend time each day scanning through each part of your body, noting sensations without judgment.
  • Mindful Eating: Eat slowly, savoring each bite and paying full attention to the taste, texture, and smell.

Humanistic/Client-Centered Counseling

Humanistic counseling embraces the individual’s unique experiences and perspectives, fostering personal growth and self-actualization. This approach revolves around empathy, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness, creating a safe and non-judgmental space. By encouraging individuals to explore their self-concept and self-worth, humanistic counseling can effectively improve self-esteem.

Through this counseling approach, individuals are guided to view themselves as whole and capable human beings. They are empowered to recognize their strengths and potential, empowering them to navigate new challenges, overcome obstacles, and embrace new opportunities.

Humanistic/client-centered counseling is like a gentle guide, helping individuals unfold their self-worth and cultivate healthier self-perceptions.

Examples of techniques:

  • Self-Reflection: Dedicate time to reflect on your feelings, desires, and fears without judgment.
  • Unconditional Positive Regard: Practice self-love and self-acceptance, acknowledging that you are worthy of love and respect.

Can Therapy Improve Self-Esteem?

Therapy has the potential to improve self-esteem and self-worth by utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), among other approaches. With the guidance and support of therapists, individuals can challenge negative beliefs, develop positive self-perceptions, and experience positive changes in their self-esteem.

How Effective is Self-Esteem Therapy?

Self-esteem therapy has proven to be highly effective in improving self-worth and self-acceptance. By providing individuals with the necessary tools and strategies, therapy helps challenge negative beliefs and fosters a healthier self-concept. The effectiveness of this therapy varies based on personal circumstances and commitment to the process.

How Can You Maintain Healthy Self-Esteem After Therapy?

Maintaining healthy self-esteem after therapy requires ongoing self-care and reflection. Practicing self-compassion, building a supportive network, challenging negative self-talk, and setting personal goals contribute to sustained high self-esteem. Remember, it’s a journey of self-discovery and growth.


Self-esteem is deeply rooted. It’s shaped by early experiences, stories we’ve internalized, and the world’s whispers. It’s a mirror reflecting our self-perception and how we engage with life’s vast tapestry. Nurturing it? A complex journey. But one filled with profound revelations and moments of reclaiming lost parts of ourselves.

Remember, you are deserving of love, respect, and happiness, and therapy can help you realize that. If you’ve found this guide helpful or have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Together, let’s support and uplift each other on our paths towards greater self-esteem and well-being.

2 thoughts on “Self Esteem Therapy: A Complete Guide”

  1. I‘ve been doing therapy for more than 16 years, and while I understand my issues a lot better, I feel like my selfesteem is as low as it ever was. I am older. I have worked on myself for close to two decades. And yet, I still am messed up, conflicted, still wrestling my demons. I appreciate what you are trying to do here, but I really doubt if therapy is the right way for people with self-esteem issues. I for one don‘t believe in it anymore.

    • Hi Martin,
      Thank you for sharing your experience here. I‘m sorry to hear that your self-esteem hasn‘t improved despite so many years of therapy. I fully agree that „therapy“ does not guarantee improvements, but therapy is a very general term. There are so many different modalities, and even any given modality can lead to vastly different outcomes depending on the therapist. I don‘t know what you‘ve tried so far, but I‘d encourage you to not give up hope. We‘ve seen so many people improve their self-esteem, some of them after years of fruitless therapy, once they found a therapist that was a good fit for them, or tried a different method. If you‘re willing to share a bit more, be free to reach out (see our contact page) and I personally would be more than happy to learn a bit more about your background, and share some recommendations for you to consider, completely free of charge.
      Either way, I do wish you all the best and hope you find your own way to a healthy self-esteem.


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