A self-esteem therapist counsels patients on psychological issues affecting how the patients perceive themselves and assess their personal value. Psychologists or psychiatrists specializing in the realm of self-esteem may deal with self-image flaws, anxiety and depression as well as self-harming and suicidal tendencies. Self-destructive issues addressed by a self-esteem therapist may range from cutting and anorexia to habitual or excessive cosmetic surgery. Therapists also give advice on the state of the patient’s interpersonal relationships, since people with low self-esteem can often become entangled in abusive and unhealthy bonds. Many self-esteem therapists offer specialized focus for one type of clientele, such as counseling for teens, Christian couples or female abuse victims.
Since faulty or underdeveloped self-esteem may masquerade as social development problems, counselors often analyze social habits in determining a client’s level of self-esteem. Self-esteem therapists may diagnose and treat shyness, stuttering, avoidance of intimacy and failure to self-assert as self-esteem-based issues. Obsessive-compulsive behavior, lying and manipulative tendencies, which may be considered personality disorders by some, may also be diagnosed by self-esteem psychotherapists as signals of warped self-value.
In tackling self-value problems, self-esteem counselors first gather information on how clients feel about themselves through a question-and-answer interview at the start of the counselor-client relationship. Questions may address how a client tackles life challenges, how empowered a client feels in specific situations, in what areas of life the client exhibits mastery and what situations the client tends to avoid. A self-esteem therapist guides the patient in recalling detailed circumstances that may have corrupted the self-esteem and helps the patient identify any misconceptions or invalid conclusions related to the past situation.
After assessing a patient’s level of self-esteem, the therapist then devises a treatment plan which may include a schedule of tasks, mantras to recite daily and new habits to institute. A task schedule may address self-grooming and maintenance issues since a person plagued by low self-esteem may abandon personal hygiene by neglecting to shower, brush teeth or eat healthily. Treatment may also include medication, such as antidepressants.
As part of treatment, a self-esteem therapist may assist clients in embracing failures and flaws, halting unjust self-criticism and neutralizing unfair censure from others. These tasks are often tackled through role-playing, sentence completion exercises and visualization of successful performance in future situations. Guidance in goal-setting and risk-taking is often given by self-esteem counselors who wish to have patients do daring activities they have postponed because they lack self-acceptance. The ultimate duty of a self-esteem therapist is to help a patient define and defend the self, which means having patients become clear about their personal values, beliefs, and identity so that they are not at the mercy of others’ interpretations and manipulations.