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Cognit Ther Res. 2012;36(4):272-281. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

The Dynamics of Self-Esteem in Cognitive Therapy for Avoidant and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders: An Adaptive Role of Self-Esteem Variability?

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  • 1University of Saskatchewan.


Self-esteem variability is often associated with poor functioning. However, in disorders with entrenched negative views of self and in a context designed to challenge those views, variable self-esteem might represent a marker of change. We examined self-esteem variability in a sample of 27 patients with Avoidant and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders who received Cognitive Therapy (CT). A therapy coding system was used to rate patients' positive and negative views of self expressed in the first ten sessions of a 52-week treatment. Ratings of negative (reverse scored) and positive view of self were summed to create a composite score for each session. Self-esteem variability was calculated as the standard deviation of self-esteem scores across sessions. More self-esteem variability predicted more improvement in personality disorder and depression symptoms at the end of treatment, beyond baseline and average self-esteem. Early variability in self-esteem, in this population and context, appeared to be a marker of therapeutic change.

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