The term self-esteem refers to our overall subjective emotional evaluation of our own worth – in other words, it’s your attitude towards yourself. Self-esteem begins to take shape in childhood and can be influenced by many factors, including early experiences at home or school, familial relationships, the media, your age and role in society and how people react to you. It is totally normal for your self-esteem to fluctuate – for example feeling down about yourself once in awhile. However, most individuals develop a baseline self-esteem that remains fairly constant over the course of their lifetimes. If you are struggling with low self-esteem, you likely spend significant time criticizing yourself and you may experience frequent feelings of shame and self-doubt. The good news is that, with work, you can change your baseline self-esteem. Therapy for self-esteem issues can help you work toward feeling confident, valuable, and worthy of respect. Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s self-esteem experts today.

Meet the specialists

Throughout my years as a therapist, I've come to realize more and more the role that shame and low self-esteem play in my clients' lives. These things run deep and seem to be some of the hardest things to face and to deal with, especially for abuse survivors. I feel that my creative way of working is very beneficial for making these issues feel easier to explore in therapy, and the EMDR therapy that I provide is also helpful for them.

— Krista Verrastro, Creative Art Therapist in Reisterstown, MD

I enjoy supporting people in increasing their self-esteem and self-compassion through a variety of strategies, including mindfulness, meditation, understanding of attachment, CBT exercises, and in gaining insight.

— Louisa Lombard, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Los Angeles, CA

It's amazing how much we are impacted by our lack of self-esteem & confidence. We're often our own worst enemies, which tends to stem from our past. We carry shame, guilt, & often have such negative self-talk as a result of our own histories and expereinces. These issues can affect a person's ability to function on a daily basis & build healthy relationships. I have significant experience helping people identify these negative core beliefs & build their self-esteem & confidence.

— Karla Kurtz, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Everett, WA

Having good self-esteem is more than just being able to say good things about yourself. It is about learning to recognize shame as a pervasive and distorting force. No one is free from encountering some experience or message that makes them feel there is something wrong with them. The more that happens, the more you start to believe it. Traumatic events can seem to reinforce the truth of that belief. Therapy provides a unique nonjudgmental environment where you can learn to untangle your true self from criticisms. I will do my best to provide a space where you can feel ok to be yourself, however you show up.

— Michael MacLafferty, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

We don't come into this world questioning our worth, and yet many of us begin to question it at some point in our lives. The source of our doubt may stem from family, peers, society, media, religion, traumatic experiences, or all of the above. Regardless of where this doubt comes from, it can feel as if it originated from within us. We begin to believe that we really are less than other people. I help people weed out these external messages and reacquaint themselves with their inherent worth.

— Courtney Shen DeShetler, Psychologist in ,

I have worked with countless individuals whose lack of /low self esteem has kept them trapped in unhappy relationships, poor work environments, and inability to pursue their life's dreams. Together we will identify the negative thoughts, examine where they come from, and how you have been replaying this script throughout your life. In the final phase we will apply CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to teach you how to challenge this negative thoughts.

— Natasha Fortune, Counselor in Long Island City, NY

Self Esteem encompasses so many areas of our lives...communication, relating, making plans/goals in our close relationships and in our communities of work, family and play. I am certified in Brene\' Brown\'s curriculum of Shame Resilience to help us sort out the details and live our fuller and happier life. Our self esteem drives the directions we go and finding ways to increase it's health can only help us. I am empathetic and supportive as we identify challenges and find solutions.

— Audrianna Gurr, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

If you judge and criticize yourself a lot, if you do not like yourself and feel like an impostor, if you feel like you lost connection with who you truly are, and generally accepted "recipes" of happiness do not work for you, I am here to help you figure those things out! I can help you explore your deep beliefs and motivations, understand what drives you and what paralyzes you, what inspires you and what is your recipe of a joyful and fulfilling life.

— Tatiana Morris, Counselor in Minneapolis, MN

In addition to my role as a therapist, I am a public speaker and writer that focuses on authenticity, empowering people to uncover their true selves and take the steps necessary to live within that. In terms of my role as a therapist, my role is to ignite curiosity for self exploration and help instill in you a confidence in living in line with your values and beliefs.

— Kyira Wackett, Counselor in Milwaukie, OR

People who say they have an issue with self-esteem, really have an issue with learning. At some point, someone told them something negative, and it was repeated until it was believed. The goal of working with low or problematic self-esteem is to extinguish that conditioned thought pattern that you have about yourself.

— Willard Vaughn, Licensed Professional Counselor in , VA

Rejection (noun) The rejection or refusal of a proposal or idea. Rejection can be felt on many levels from large to small. What it may feel like is everything around you is falling apart and you’re not sure if you can move on. Be brave enough to see the light of rejection. Be brave enough to say I don’t want someone that doesn’t want me. Be brave enough to say I am enough. If that pain is ever a little to much don’t hesitate to reach out and talk about it. I am here, and YOU ARE ENOUGH!

— Lindsay Frazier, Counselor in Gladstone, MO

I have worked with countless individuals whose lack of /low self esteem has kept them trapped in unhappy relationships, poor work environments, and inability to pursue their life's dreams. Together we will identify the negative thoughts, examine where they come from, and how you have been replaying this script throughout your life. In the final phase we will apply CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to teach you how to challenge these negative thoughts patterns.

— Natasha Fortune, Counselor in Long Island City, NY

A lot of new clients will share on the intake call that they just want to like themselves. I get it. There are days when all of us feel like we are just propping ourselves up and trying to make it to the end of the day! For me, self-esteem is a root issue. How we feel about ourselves started way back in childhood based on how we were treated, how our emotions were attended to (or not) and whether our environment offered a safe place to process our experiences. Working with low self-esteem entails learning how you managed emotions and situations in the past when you didn't have as many resources as you do now as an adult. A lot of us go to perfectionism and people pleasing as a means of controlling the external environment once we are adults. We don't know how to take care of our emotional experiences. Most of us have a pretty harsh inner critic that comments on everything we do, say and feel. This only perpetuates perfectionism and people pleasing. Relaxing the critic is a first step in addressing self-esteem issues. Mindfulness is helpful as it gives us tools to notice how often our inner critic chimes in, as well as tools for self-compassion and eventually, self-acceptance. Its so easy to use the outside world to define your inside experience of yourself. Its encouraging to see clients begin to soften towards themselves, unburden themselves from outdated inner dialogue and let themselves be imperfect human beings.

— Vicki Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

It has been said that our essence, our soul, is ever present like the sun, yet like the sun, it can become obscured by clouds. These clouds represent the wounds and trauma you've experienced throughout your life, along with the defenses that have helped you survive, yet these defenses (the inner critic, depression, anxiety...) may no longer serve you. Together we can bring awareness to and begin to relax these defenses allowing more of your gifts, your ever-present essence to shine through.

— Erika Shershun, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

There's a little voice in your head criticizing and second guessing every decision you make. You're terrified of making a mistake because when you do, your inner drill sergeant comes out and beats you into submission. Nothing ever feels good enough. Therapy can help you build a healthier kind of self-esteem! Transform that nasty inner critic into a compassionate and helpful guide that will empower you to do your best.

— Ashleigh Edelstein, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

If you struggle with self-esteem or are more focused on pleasing others than taking care of yourself and knowing what you want, I can help you develop your sense of self and find your voice. Perhaps you feel resentful of people who take advantage of you. When our survival skill has been to be more aware of others' needs to that we can feel safe, we will the developmental step of getting to know oneself. We can get to know your desires and needs together.

— Melissa Johnson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in CLEMMONS, NC

Problems with self-esteem can come in so many forms. It may come in the form of relationships - wondering if you're worthy of another's love or attention. It might come at work, with feelings like you are a fraud or you will never be good enough to advance in your career. It might come in the form of day to day anxieties - those little worries that can sometimes add up to paralyzing self-doubt. I want to help you sort through these worries and insecurities and develop new ways of coping and new thought patterns that can help counteract these beliefs. I also teach my clients mindfulness and self-compassion, which are tools that can help improve self-esteem.

— Ashley Hamm, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

I use cognitive behavior therapy tools to examine your negative self-talk, talk therapy to explore where they came from, and positive psychology to replace them.

— Aimie French, Counselor in ,

Are you your own worst critic? Do you feel that you can never be good enough? Those feelings come from the constant barrage of messages from family, friends, and media that tell us how we should be, or how we fall short of someone else’s expectations. And then we repeat those messages over and over in our minds until we fully believe them. But these messages aren’t truth. The authentic You has been buried under all this pile of accusations and disappointments. I will work with you to help reclaim your real identity and rewrite the story that you play in your thoughts. I have had clients who now walk through life proud of who they are, confident in what they bring, and excited with where they are going. I would love to work with you to see how far you can go.

— Jaclin Belabri, Counselor in Vancouver, WA

Over the years, I’ve led thousands of therapy groups, and provided hundreds of people with individual, couples, and family therapy. I’ve treated people from all walks of life, with all kinds of presenting problems, from depression and anxiety, to chronic pain and illness, to addiction and severe mental illness. I have found that the common denominator across populations and issues is low self-esteem; people really don’t seem to be able to accept or love themselves. I have come to realize that the true core of my work is to empower people to find the light within themselves – to discover their true nature and free themselves of their self-judgments. I believe that this is what brings us true joy and inner peace, and allows us to create all that we desire in life.

— Adriana Popescu, Clinical Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

Low self-esteem often originates with unmet needs during childhood. Many of us feel "not good enough" or struggle with self-doubt, this can be the result of not having caretakers who were attuned to our needs and feelings. Often, our parents did the best they could but we still may have not gotten what we needed. I use Developmental Needs-Meeting Strategy to help my clients gain a sense of self-worth, self-assssurednes, and develop the ability to advocate for themselves.

— Rachel Del Dosso, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Camarillo, CA

If constant feelings of inadequacy and self-criticism are creeping in, it’s very difficult to feel any sense of self-confidence. Instead, feelings of defeat, loss of motivation, and lack of joy become the new reality. You can break free! What would life be like if you viewed your core self as unconditionally worthy of acceptance, compassion, and value? How do you think your life would change? Let’s start the journey together toward building a sense of self-esteem that truly enables you to thrive

— JaLeah Law, Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA