A woman in a brown shirt with black hair gestures to herself as her therapist, who is helping with her self-esteem, sits in the foreground of the picture.

5 Types of Therapy for Self-Esteem

March 22, 2024

5 min.

Low self-esteem can impact everything from relationships to our outlook on life, but access to the right therapy can boost your confidence and create a healthier sense of self.

By: Alex Bachert, MPH

Clinically Reviewed By: Dr. Don Gasparini

Learn more about our Clinical Review Process


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Table of Contents

Most people suffer from occasional self-doubt; maybe you convince yourself that you failed an important exam, or you second guess how that first date really went. But when you’re constantly questioning your abilities and limitations, you may be experiencing low self-esteem.

Self-esteem is a subjective measure of how we value and perceive ourselves. People with healthy self-esteem are more likely to have fulfilling relationships with other people, succeed at work and school, and maintain a positive outlook on life. They’re also more likely to recognize and accept their strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and flaws. 

Low self-esteem, however, can make it difficult to live a full and balanced life. People with low self-esteem often have a poor opinion of themselves, depend on the approval of others, and lack the confidence to make their own decisions. If low self-esteem is affecting your day-to-day life, it may be worth seeking mental health support. Read on for how therapy can help boost self-esteem.

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How does therapy help with self-esteem?

“Self-esteem issues are a common reason for seeking therapy,” says Meghan Jensen, LPC, a Primary Therapist with Charlie Health. “Many individuals struggle with feelings of low self-worth, insecurity, and self-doubt, which can significantly impact their overall well-being and quality of life.” Some of the most common reasons people seek therapy for self-esteem issues, according to Jensen, are:

  • Negative self-perception
  • The impact of low self-esteem on mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders
  • Relationship problems linked to low self-esteem
  • Self-esteem challenges that affect work and school

If you’re wondering how long it will take for therapy to help improve your self-esteem, there’s no simple answer. Each person’s journey varies based on the severity of the self-esteem issues, their readiness for change, and the effectiveness of the therapeutic intervention. 

“In general, therapy for self-esteem typically involves a gradual process of exploration, insight-building, and skill development. Clients may initially focus on identifying and challenging negative beliefs about themselves, developing coping strategies for managing self-esteem challenges, and practicing new behaviors to build self-confidence,” explained Jensen. “Over time, as individuals gain self-awareness, develop healthier perspectives, and implement therapeutic strategies, they may begin to experience improvements in their self-esteem,” she continued.

5 types of therapy for low self-esteem

According to Jensen, there are several effective therapeutic approaches for improving self-esteem and reducing feelings of doubt and insecurity.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that helps people understand the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By identifying and addressing specific concerns that are impacting your self-esteem, you can learn to better manage and cope with those emotions. CBT can also help you address problematic behaviors and then replace them with healthier, more empowering alternatives. 

2. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) encourages people to acknowledge and accept their emotions, including negative thoughts and feelings. The idea of this therapy is that by switching your mindset from judgmental to observational, you create room for curiosity, authenticity, and courage. Just because you experience negative emotions doesn’t mean they need to prevent you from aligning your behaviors with your values and goals.

3. Narrative therapy

Narrative therapy is another type of talk therapy that’s used to help people who are struggling with negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions, such as low self-esteem. With narrative therapy, your therapist will encourage you to separate your problems from your identity so that you can create space to understand and address your concerns. Narrative therapy encourages people to recognize their strengths and skills so that they can take control of their narrative and improve their well-being. 

4. Compassion-focused therapy

Compassion-focused therapy uses mind-body awareness to help people develop greater compassion for themselves and others. Through techniques like role-playing and visualization, CFT teaches teens and young adults about resilience, emotional regulation, and self-compassion.

5. Group therapy

In addition to individual therapy, many people struggling with self-esteem issues benefit from the connection and community found in group therapy. Group sessions are an opportunity to share your feelings and experiences with other teens and young adults who are dealing with similar issues. With group therapy, you’ll learn to develop better communication skills, social skills, and healthier ways to cope with difficult emotions.

Four people hugging in a group therapy session

Benefits of Group Therapy

Charlie Health Editorial Team

Other tips for improving self-esteem

In addition to therapy, there are other steps you can take to boost your confidence, improve your self-esteem, and create a healthier sense of self. 

Show yourself compassion

We’re often our own worst critics, especially during the moments when we should be our biggest champions instead. Going forward, find ways to show yourself kindness and understanding. This can include letting go of past mistakes or talking to yourself as a friend or loved one would.

Challenge negative thoughts

Negative thinking, such as jumping to harmful conclusions, can take a serious toll on a person's mental health and well-being. If you’re someone who tends to have an all-or-nothing mindset, find ways to challenge those negative thoughts. For example, instead of thinking, "If I don't ace this test, I'll be such a failure," replace the sentiment with something like, “Even if I don’t do as well as I’d like on this test, I know that I gave it my best effort and that’s all I ask of myself.”

Practice self-care

Remind yourself that you’re worthy of love by practicing regular self-care. Prioritize rituals that nourish your body and mind, such as a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise.

Set motivational goals

One way to build confidence and understand your capacity for growth is by taking on new challenges. Whether it's volunteering to lead a group project at school or training for a half marathon, setting specific and achievable goals can help improve your self-esteem.

A woman with black hair and a green and grey shirts sits in the background as her therapist sits in the foreground offering therapy for self-esteem.

How Charlie Health can help with self-esteem

If low self-esteem is starting to have a negative impact on your life, consider seeking mental health support. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers more than once-weekly therapy for young people dealing with a wide range of mental health conditions and concerns. Our expert clinicians will create a personalized treatment for you (including individual therapy, family therapy, and group sessions) to help you build confidence and improve your overall well-being—all from the comfort of your own home. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today. 

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