Overcoming low self-esteem is probably one of the most misunderstood problem of the professional community, meaning psychotherapists, counselors, or coaches. The full dimension of low self-esteem does not seem to be generally understood. Often clients reported that they saw several therapists and still felt that they received only little help. Some therapists may even become irritated or hostile, pigeon-holing the client as “resistant.” This, of course, leads to a vicious circle of seeking understanding and not getting it. Those clients, understandably, felt frustrated and even more despairing.

One reason for the general lack of understanding is that the question of self-esteem also still puzzles the scientific community. A lot of at times contradictory theories about the nature of self-esteem and how low self-esteem might be alleviated confuses the issue even more for the individual who seeks help and is attempting to decide which method is the right one. The only possibility that seems to present itself is to jump into the deep end: You select a therapist or a book and see how it works out. If you are not lucky, trial and error is the game you end up playing for a long time. If you want to end this fruitless game and be better save than sorry, here is what you can do:

The benefits of an integrative approach
Choose an approach that integrates the main schools of thought in psychology. To quote Jeffrey E. Young, founder of Schema-Therapy: “We strongly advise you to prefer approaches and therapists that combine several models instead of using only one approach.” The benefits of an integrative approach are twofold:

1. You are going to harvest the so-called synergy-effect. That means the applied methods and practices reinforce each other. Thus you increase the effectiveness and quickness of each. It is the dramatically increased speed and potency of an integrative method that makes it so advantageous.

2. It solves the problem to sort out which approach is the best for you. Since all the major schools are included in addition to several supporting practices, you are not in danger of leaving anything important out.

Integrating the main school of thoughts
A genuine integrative method includes both cognitive-behavioral psychology and depth psychology, as they are the two major schools in psychotherapy. Why is it so crucial to combine both schools, if you want to overcome low self-esteem?

1. The view on the human mind and the methods of both schools are so diverse, that it is hardly possible to unify them into a singular concept. While depth psychology emphasizes the uncovering of unconscious motives and intentions, cognitive psychology stresses the importance of working with beliefs and judgments. So, instead of creating one single method, why not using the best of both schools and let them work together in an integrated way.

2. Much more important: Both schools actually complement each other. They address different stages of childhood development. While depth psychology's main focus is on an early, nonverbal stage, cognitive psychology addresses a later, verbal stage. It would go too far to explained this in more detail. It is sufficient to know that these two schools are not merely two different ways of understanding and healing the mind. They have complementary qualities and you do not want to miss any of them.

Author's Bio: 

Olaf Schwennesen, M.A. is a certified coach for solution focused therapy and a licensed natural health professional for psychotherapy. He is working as a lecturer and trainer for social and methodical competences and in private practice in Berlin, Germany.

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