Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Work (M.S.W.)

Degree Program

School of Social Work


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the relationship between low self-esteem and anxiety and/or depression. Participants were selected based on their subjective experience of having high or low self-esteem. Low self-esteem participants were then selected on the basis of their subjective assessment of attributing anxiety/and or depression to their low self-esteem experience. Two high self-esteem and two low self-esteem participants were interviewed.

High self-esteem participants were found to base their self-worth and respect on an internal locus of evaluation. They did not identify any notable anxiety or depression. Low self-esteem participants were found to base their worth and respect on an external locus of evaluation which lead to inauthentic behavior. Their inauthentic behavior, in turn, was associated with feelings of anxiety and/or depression. Implications are multi-systemic; they include teaching and learning self-responsibility and self-reliance as well as the importance of considering both experiential and cognitive therapeutic components.


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