Building Self-Esteem: The Cognitive Behavioural Approach ~ Sabrina Martelli

Self-esteem is a term that really refers to how we think about ourselves. In a sense, it is the aggregate of all of the thoughts that run through our mind when thinking about our confidence in our abilities.  When people talk about good self-esteem, what they’re really talking about is a healthy level of self-confidence. Poor self-esteem on the other hand, has to do with excessive self-criticism. Pervasive poor self-esteem can result in anxiety and depression.

At Healing Path Counselling Services it is recognized that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most researched treatments proven to be effective in helping build self-esteem.  It is designed to be brief, problem-focused, and active. A brief developmental history and relationships will be obtained but is not the focus.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy targets the problems that are occurring in the present. 

Strategies that are often used, but not limited to, include the following:

  1. Cognitive restructuring – Combination of recognizing unhelpful thinking patterns, and replacing them with more effective thinking patterns. Cognitive restructuring for low self-esteem often focuses on identifying negative thoughts about oneself, and identifying distorted thinking, such as labeling oneself as a failure due to one skills deficit or negative event. 
  2. Behavioural activation – When people have low self-esteem, they often avoid activities and situations that they fear they will not do well in. As a result, they have few opportunities for rewarding experiences, and often become depressed. Behavioural activation helps to reverse this cycle by helping people re-engage with life, and thus have more rewarding experiences. 
  3. Assertiveness training – People with poor self-esteem often have difficulty asking for what they want, saying no to requests, or making their true feelings known. Assertiveness training is a way of helping people learn to effectively and skillfully get what they want from others without sacrificing their relationships.
  4. Problem-solving training – When people have had low self-esteem over a long period of time, they tend to feel helpless in many situations. Problem-solving training helps people find a sense of agency by teaching them to recognize problems, identify resources and potential solutions, and finally carry out effective plans. 
  5. Social skills training – Low self-esteem is often intertwined with difficulties in social abilities. Social skills training helps people increase positive and rewarding social behaviours and decrease negative social behaviour.

Low self-esteem and lack of confidence is a universal feeling – however should it become debilitating for day-to-day tasks this could signify a need to address this state of being.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, please reach out at Healing Path Counselling Services.

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