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Overcoming Low-Self Esteem Through Counselling

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Low self-esteem is a psychological concept that refers to a negative evaluation and perception of oneself. It is a sense of inadequacy, worthlessness, and a persistent lack of confidence in one's abilities and self-worth. Individuals with low self-esteem often struggle with a distorted self-image, believing they are inherently flawed or unworthy of love and respect. Low self-esteem often leads them to be self-critical and have difficulty accepting compliments or praise from others. Individuals with low self-esteem often dwell in negative thoughts and beliefs, such as "I am not good enough" or "I will never succeed." When left unprocessed, the negative self-thought become deeply ingrained, leading to one to act or behave in manners that deepen the low self-esteem.

Low self-esteem can significantly impact various aspects of life, including relationships, academic or professional performance, and overall mental well-being. Individuals with low self-esteem often find themselves unable to share in the joy or celebrate others' success because it evokes envy or jealousy. Because of it, people may perceive individuals with low self-esteem as unfavourable, thus isolating the individuals with low self-esteem. Therefore, individuals with low self-esteem often experience loneliness, or they might withdraw socially to avoid rejection. They may also struggle with other mental health challenges like anxiety or depression.

The triggers of low-self esteem vary, and some of the triggers include childhood experiences of constantly being subjected to criticism or comparison, bullying, difficulty coping with studies, economic challenges and neglect. Recognising and addressing low self-esteem is crucial for personal growth and well-being. Therapy is a valuable tool for individuals seeking to improve their self-esteem. Through therapeutic interventions, individuals can challenge negative thought patterns, process past traumas, and cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance.

There are many therapeutic approaches to help with overcoming low self-esteem. Short-term therapeutic models include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy and Solution Focus Brief Therapy (SFBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognised and evidence-based therapeutic approach that targets negative thought patterns and behaviours contributing to low self-esteem. In CBT, therapists work collaboratively with clients to identify and challenge distorted thoughts, replacing them with more realistic and positive beliefs. By understanding the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, individuals can gradually shift their perspective and develop healthier self-perceptions. Through CBT techniques, clients can reframe self-critical thoughts and challenge their inner critic and strict life rules. CBT empowers individuals to regain control of their beliefs by setting achievable goals and focusing on positive changes, thus increasing self-esteem.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is future-focused, goal-directed, focusing on solutions, rather than the problems that brought individuals to seek Therapy. SFBT counsellor focus on present issues and goals to resolve the concern quicker.

Narrative Therapy holds that every individual has skills, competencies, beliefs, values, commitments and abilities that will help them reduce the influence of problems in their lives. Narrative Therapy's counsellor supports individuals with low self-esteem to identify their strengths, values and skills by externalising the problem from the person and identifying unique outcomes amid all life challenges.

Individuals keen to process the deep issues that trigger low self-esteem may consider trauma-focused psychotherapy such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting or Internal Family System, which integrate working with attachment and inner child in their approach.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a research-validated trauma therapy effective in healing childhood and acute trauma. Traumatic experiences can contribute significantly to negative self-perceptions. EMDR helps process past traumas and their associated negative beliefs, paving the way for more positive self-views. By guiding clients through bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping, EMDR helps desensitise distressing memories and reprocess them more adaptively, allowing individuals with low self-esteem to release self-limiting beliefs and cultivate a more confident self-image.

Brainspotting is a powerful treatment that identifies, processes, and releases core neurophysiological sources of emotional / body pain, trauma, and other challenging symptoms. Brainspotting works with the deep brain and the body through its direct access to the autonomic and limbic systems within the body's central nervous system. It is a physiological tool/treatment with profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences.

Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre which provides counselling and psychotherapy services for mental health and relationship challenges. Our counsellors and psychotherapists work with children, adolescents, youths and adult individuals, couples and groups facing anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, PTSD, trauma and other life difficulties. For more information, please visit or WhatsApp at

+65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our telegram group,

Keywords: low self-esteem, trauma, hurt, past, confidence, self-image, relationships, pleasing, CBT, EMDR, negative, thoughts, inadequacy, counselling


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