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Low self-esteem is a common problem among adolescents and is related to psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety. However, effective and available interventions primarily targeting low self-esteem are scarce, in particular for youths. To address this gap, the aim of this pilot study was to evaluate a novel internet-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (ICBT) program for low self-esteem in adolescents using a randomized controlled design. Fifty-two participants (15-19 years) were recruited and randomly allocated to seven weeks of therapist-supported ICBT (n=26) or to a waitlist control condition (n=26). The primary outcome was the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). Secondary outcomes measured domain-specific aspects of self-esteem, self-compassion, quality of life, depression and anxiety. The treatment group showed significantly higher levels of self-rated self-esteem compared to the control group at post-treatment, with a large between-group effect-size (RSES, d = 1.18). Further, the treatment had significant positive impact on secondary measures of self-esteem, self-compassion, quality of life, depression and anxiety. The results of this pilot-RCT suggest that ICBT can be effective for treating low self-esteem in adolescents, decrease depression and anxiety levels, and increasing quality of life. Replication of the results in larger samples is needed.


Matilda Berg, Tomas Lindegaard, Anna Flygare, Julia Sjöbrink, Linn Hagvall, Sofia Palmebäck, Helena Klemetz, Mikael Ludvigsson, Gerhard Andersson. Internet-based CBT for adolescents with low self-esteem: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Cognitive behaviour therapy. 2022 Sep;51(5):388-407

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PMID: 35503024

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