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Can self-help really change my life?

answered 04:35 PM EST, Tue January 17, 2012
I am not very happy with my life. I think that a lot of problems in my life stem from my low self esteem, my lack of self confidence and my inability to assert myself to others. I am tired of living this way and would like to learn to be a more confident and assertive person. What is the best way for me to raise my self esteem and to learn to become more assertive? Is there a self help program that actually works or do I need to work with some type of counselor? I am ready to make a change in my life but I am not sure what exactly I should do to make things better.

Art Matthews Says...

I would recommend working with a professional on this. There are some great self-help tools out there, but we don't always have the best perspective on our issues or the ability to motivate ourselves through the rough patches. A therapist can provide not only their knowledge, experience and education but an unbiased perspective on what's going on. Counselors are great at reflecting what they experience the reality of the client to be so that the client can see themselves from a different vantage point, perhaps one they haven't considered. Clients often know that they should change and often know what changes to make but they find making the changes overwhelming. Having a counselor is like having a cheerleader, confidante, and referee all rolled into one.

You might consider looking for a therapist with a cognitive-behavioral background and, if you have had chronic low self-esteem and depression, maybe even Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that provides practical education and therapy designed to promote emotion regulation and effective reality-testing using the concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find low cost or even free services. Counseling agencies often have sliding scale fees based on your income. If you are enrolled in college, many schools have free or low cost services available to students. Some charities and faith based organizations also provide counseling at low or no fee based on income. Look in your area for Jewish Children and Family Services, Catholic Charities or others. You won't have to be a member of that faith or church and counseling will not be Bible or text-based unless you request it.

One self-help site I really like is called The MoodGym. It's free, interactive and even a little entertaining. The site provides psychoeducation and direction on managing emotions, raising self-esteem (I like the term "self-worth" better), managing stress, understanding relationships and learning communication skills. You can't beat the price. To check it out, go to: http://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome/new/splash The Mood Gym has been researched and uses evidence-based practices. There is no real-time interaction though, so if you are in a crisis or need immediate attention, never rely on email, FaceBook or Tweets to call for help. Pick up a phone and call 911 or 800-273-TALK (8255) in the US. For a list of emergency numbers outside the US go to http://befrienders.org

Now is the time to make a change. It only needs to be a small one to get you rolling. Reward yourself for just taking a step today. Create a profile in MoodGym. Call a local counseling center. Reach out to a friend. Anything you do to get started, reward yourself for and follow through.

You can do it. Millions have gone before you so I know you can do it too! Don't waste another day.

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Page last updated Jan 17, 2012

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