The use of counseling for self-esteem is beneficial for helping patients recognize negative thought processes, begin seeing themselves more realistically, and discover or unearth the underlying reasons for a negative self-image. Although there is some debate on how to best handle patients with negative self-esteem, most professionals do agree that it is caused by internal thoughts and dialogues. Over time, if someone thinks or expresses negative things about himself, those thoughts will begin to overrule any positive ones. This can lead to a poor, and often distorted, self-image.
Those who have very low self-esteem often do not view themselves realistically. They may believe they are physically larger than they are, or they may take small criticisms and setbacks to heart and internalize them. For instance, someone may not get a job they applied to or they may be passed over for a promotion. Instead of thinking that perhaps the position had already been filled or that it simply wasn't a good fit, they begin to believe that they were not chosen based on other factors. They may feel stupid and incompetent, or begin to believe that they can't do anything right.
These are distorted ideas based on negative thoughts that manifest themselves in the brain over time. Sometimes, this pattern of self-abuse is caused by underlying emotional trauma. Most often, this trauma occurs in childhood, although it can also be related to a single traumatizing event later in life. Counseling for self-esteem in these cases can be very beneficial because a counselor can help patients talk through and work past damaging issues in their lives.
Counseling for self-esteem is especially beneficial because trained counselors can help patients begin to reevaluate the way they view themselves. They can learn to recognize negative thoughts when they occur, and substitute them with more positive thoughts. This may help to retrain the brain into eventually internalizing, and believing, these positive thoughts. When using this tactic, it is important for patients to be honest and realistic. If a patient tells himself that he is the smartest person in the world, this could be harmful when he realizes that it isn't true.
The point of counseling for self-esteem is to allow patients to recognize and focus on their actual strengths and to stop over-dramatizing weaknesses. A counselor will not only know the right techniques and mental exercises needed to do this successfully, he or she will also provide a safe place for patients to talk and share their struggles and fears. Although counseling for self-esteem cannot do all the work necessary for building a positive self-image, it can point patients in the right direction.