top of page

EMDR for Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is one of the most underrated sources of psychological distress. Self-esteem issues significantly impact overall well-being in every aspect of life and is generally an enormous factor in both depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem can be blamed for a wide variety of psychological problems including problems setting boundaries, poor relationships, unhealthy behaviors and habits, and more.


Low self-esteem issues often arise following painful or traumatic experiences or can be a result of a lifetime of small experiences that reinforce the way you think about yourself. Experiences such as bullying, abusive relationships, how you were parented, etc. can lead to long-term negative thought patterns. Seeking treatment can help you challenge core negative beliefs about yourself and improve your sense of self-worth.

Is EMDR an Effective Treatment for Low Self-Esteem?

While there is not the same level of empirical support for treating self-esteem with EMDR as with trauma or anxiety, self-esteem is easily treatable with EMDR and most clients see life changing results and complete shifts in how they see themselves. Targeting self-esteem often results in some of the largest treatment gains seen in EMDR therapy.

The time it takes to treat low self-esteem with EMDR therapy successfully varies from person to person. People with self-esteem problems rooted in complex trauma may require more sessions to experience positive results. However, most of our patients report a significant improvement in their emotional well-being within three to six visits, and some begin to feel better after even just one session. 

How Is EMDR Therapy Used to Help Treat Self-Esteem Issues?

Self-esteem is comprised of a set of beliefs about yourself, whether they be positive of negative. EMDR works by targeting negative belief systems and changing them in order to create symptom relief and lasting change.

The first step in EMDR is identifying a negative or problematic belief system that needs to be changed and then processing through it with EMDR until it's no longer believed. The second step is replacing the negative belief with a positive belief so that the core belief about yourself is now positive instead of negative. This change results in decreased distress and an overall sense of peace and happiness. EMDR will focus on one belief at a time until all contributing beliefs are processed through and changed to positive beliefs.

For example, if a client identifies some of their negative core beliefs as "I don't matter", "I can't trust myself", and "I'm a bad person" then EMDR will focus on the belief that is most distressing or has the most influence until that belief is gone and replaced with a positive belief ("I matter", "I trust myself", "I'm a good person"). Each belief will then be worked through in turn until all negative contributing beliefs have been worked through and replaced with positive beliefs. Therapy is complete when the individual feels nothing but positive towards themselves and has high self-esteem.

bottom of page