Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Low self-esteem (LSE) is associated with psychiatric disorder, and is distressing and debilitating in its own right. Hence, it is frequent target for treatment in cognitive behavioural interventions, yet it has rarely been the primary focus for intervention. This paper reports on a preliminary randomized controlled trial of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for LSE using Fennell's (1997) cognitive conceptualisation and transdiagnostic treatment approach (1997, 1999). METHODS: Twenty-two participants were randomly allocated to either immediate treatment (IT) (n=11) or to a waitlist condition (WL) (n=11). Treatment consisted of 10 sessions of individual CBT accompanied by workbooks. Participants allocated to the WL condition received the CBT intervention once the waitlist period was completed and all participants were followed up 11 weeks after completing CBT. RESULTS: The IT group showed significantly better functioning than the WL group on measures of LSE, overall functioning and depression and had fewer psychiatric diagnoses at the end of treatment. The WL group showed the same pattern of response to CBT as the group who had received CBT immediately. All treatment gains were maintained at follow-up assessment. LIMITATIONS: The sample size is small and consists mainly of women with a high level of educational attainment and the follow-up period was relatively short. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary findings suggest that a focused, brief CBT intervention can be effective in treating LSE and associated symptoms and diagnoses in a clinically representative group of individuals with a range of different and co-morbid disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry

Publication Date





1049 - 1057


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Female, Humans, Male, Models, Psychological, Self Concept, Self Report, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome, Waiting Lists