5 Facts About Low Self Esteem

5 Facts About Low Self Esteem

by Dr Emma Gray - 18th September, 2014

Schema Focused Therapy

1. Low Self Esteem results from a combination of self critical and depreciating thoughts. These may include negative evaluation of one’s performance in past event, negative comparison to others, and a tendency to underestimate one’s ability to cope with situations. Such thoughts lead to feelings of anxiety and depression which in turn improve an individual’s access to further self critical thoughts creating a vicious cycle that undermines the individual’s sense of worth.

2. Low Self Esteem is perpetuated by a tendency to filter out any evidence that highlights achievements and success and focuses the individual towards information that confirms a sense of failure and inadequacy.

3. Low Self Esteem undermines the majority of mental health problems including eating disorder (inc. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders not otherwise specified {EDNOS}), anxiety and panic disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder {OCD}). Therapy to resolve anxiety and depression based problems must therefore also look at underlying low self esteem if changes are to endure.

4. Low Self Esteem and the resulting anxiety and depression leads sufferers to engage in self defeating behaviours that in the short term elevate negative emotions but over the longer term exacerbate core low self esteem. Eating disorders (inc. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders not otherwise specified {EDNOS}) and substance misuse are good examples of such behaviours. Other examples include avoidance, procrastination, perfectionism, people pleasing and engaging in personally damaging or abusive relationships.

5. An effective form of therapy for Low Self Esteem is an extended version of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) called Schema Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This therapy works in two ways; it helps the sufferer to feel better on a day to day basis by teaching them ways of managing their symptoms (e.g. anxiety, low mood and eating disorders) whilst also looking at eliminating their core underlying issue of low self esteem.

Doctors of Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology working at The British CBT & Counselling Service are frequently called upon to help patients tackle their low self esteem and the day to day issues that it creates for them. By drawing on the principles of Schema Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to develop individualised therapy programmes they have helped hundreds of sufferers to overcome their low self esteem.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


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