Self-Esteem | Zencare — Zencare


In most cases, if we have higher levels of self-esteem, we tend to like ourselves more. This helps us to maintain good mental health.  

On the other hand, lower levels of self-esteem are associated with mental health challenges such as depression. People with low self-esteem often have a poorer quality of life. For example, if we have lower self-esteem, we are more likely to think that we are not clever enough to get that job, or that we are deserving of poor treatment because we are not worthy of love.

If you struggle with low self-esteem and notice that it affects your life negatively, seek help. Therapists can help you learn to reassess how you think and feel about yourself.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem relates to how positively we feel about ourselves and our worth. We tend to base this assessment of ourselves on qualities and characteristics such as:

How common is low self-esteem?

It’s difficult to tell how common low self-esteem is. It tends not to be frequently measured because it is not a diagnosable mental health condition, and definitions of ‘low’ self-esteem differ.

One long-term study that examined self-esteem changes in over 3000 Americans over a period of 16 years found that: (2)

Another study examining self-esteem in U.S. adolescents found that around 25% of 16-year-olds had low self-esteem. (3)

Signs of low self-esteem

We can all feel bad about ourselves or lack confidence at times, but people with low self-esteem feel like this regularly, or possibly even all the time. Signs that you may have low self-esteem include: (4)

Mental health challenges associated with low self-esteem

Low self-esteem has been linked to many mental health challenges, including:

What to do if you are struggling with low self-esteem

If you have low self-esteem, consider a combination of the following actions to help shift how you think and feel about yourself:

Therapy types to consider for low self-esteem

Many types of therapy are considered helpful for improving low self-esteem. Just a selection of examples include:

What to look for in a therapist for low self-esteem

The best-fitting type of therapist for you will depend on individual factors, symptoms, your location and finances. When selecting a mental health professional, it can be helpful to consider the following factors:

Personal fit

When seeking therapy for any reason, it’s important to consider the potential for developing a strong working relationship with your therapist. This trusting relationship is called the therapeutic alliance, and it’s the number one indicator of treatment efficacy. Feeling comfortable with your prospective therapist is an absolute priority.

After you’ve read a little more about the therapy types above, think about which one might be the best fit for you. Some people prefer a creative approach, as art therapy offers; others prefer a structured approach like CBT. Keep this in mind when you are looking at the therapy types offered by your prospective therapists.

Qualifications and experience

Look for a licensed mental health professional. This ensures that the therapist you work with has undertaken the appropriate education and training. In addition, ask your prospective therapists ahead of time about their experience in treating self-esteem.

Talk in advance

The best way to judge how you might feel about your prospective therapist is to ask for a preliminary phone call. Most therapists will be happy to oblige. This gives you the opportunity to ask about:

Try to speak to a few different therapists before making your mind up.

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.

Sources and references