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  • Writer's pictureDennis Guyvan

Unraveling the Connection Between Low-Self Esteem and Trauma

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Developmental trauma is a term that encompasses a range of adverse childhood experiences that can have a lasting impact on a person's mental and emotional well-being. One of the significant consequences of developmental trauma is the development of low self-esteem. In Denver, therapy for individuals who have experienced developmental trauma plays a crucial role in helping them rebuild their self-esteem and lead more fulfilling lives.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the intricate relationship between developmental trauma and low self-esteem, the lasting effects it can have on an individual, and how therapy in Denver can be a source of healing and transformation.

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Part 1: Understanding Developmental Trauma

Developmental trauma refers to adverse childhood experiences that occur during a critical period of a person's development. These experiences can take various forms, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic violence, or growing up in an environment marked by chronic instability or unpredictability.

1.1 The Impact of Developmental Trauma

Individuals who have experienced developmental trauma often carry the emotional scars with them throughout their lives. These early adverse experiences can disrupt healthy emotional and psychological development, leading to various challenges, including low self-esteem.

1.2 The Role of Attachment

Attachment theory plays a significant role in understanding how developmental trauma affects self-esteem. Children rely on secure attachments to caregivers for a sense of safety and self-worth. When these attachments are disrupted or unhealthy, it can profoundly affect a child's self-esteem.

Part 2: The Link Between Developmental Trauma and Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem is a common consequence of developmental trauma, and the connection between the two is multifaceted. This chapter explores the ways in which developmental trauma influences a person's self-esteem.

2.1 Negative Self-Beliefs

Children who experience developmental trauma often internalize negative beliefs about themselves. These beliefs can include feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, and a deep-seated belief that they are fundamentally flawed.

2.2 Self-Identity

The trauma experienced during childhood can shape a person's self-identity. For those who have endured abuse or neglect, their self-identity may be rooted in victimhood, shame, and a belief that they are undeserving of love and respect.

2.3 Self-Criticism

Developmental trauma survivors often engage in self-criticism and self-sabotaging behaviors. They may constantly second-guess themselves, seek validation from others, or engage in self-destructive habits as a result of their low self-esteem.

Part 3: Healing Through Therapy in Denver

When I provide therapy in Denver and help individuals who have experienced developmental trauma work through their low self-esteem, I offer a range of modalities. Here are a few of them.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy acknowledges the profound connection between the body and the mind in trauma recovery. It can help individuals release stored trauma in the body and develop a healthier relationship with themselves.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

IFS is an approach that explores the different parts of an individual's psyche and their roles in self-esteem and self-identity. It can help individuals understand and heal the wounded parts of themselves.

Inner Child Work

Inner child work is a therapeutic approach that focuses on healing the wounded inner child within an individual. It can be a transformative experience for those who have experienced developmental trauma, helping them reconnect with their true selves and build self-esteem.

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EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy that helps individuals process and desensitize traumatic memories. It can be highly effective for those with developmental trauma who may have unresolved emotional wounds from their past.


Brainspotting is a cutting-edge modality that evolved out of EMDR that focuses on the connection between eye movements and the processing of trauma. I use it to provide therapy in Denver to help individuals process and release traumatic memories that contribute to low self-esteem.

Part 4: The Journey to Recovery

Recovery from developmental trauma and the associated low self-esteem is a complex and individualized process. This chapter delves into the journey to recovery, the importance of self-compassion, and its relevance to therapy in Denver.


Self-compassion is a cornerstone of healing from developmental trauma. I often emphasize the importance of self-compassion with my therapy clients, as individuals learn to treat themselves with the same kindness and understanding they would offer to a friend.

Rebuilding Self-Esteem

Rebuilding self-esteem is a gradual process. Through therapy in Denver, individuals can challenge their negative self-beliefs, practice self-affirmation, and gradually develop a healthier self-identity.

Finding Support

Recovery from developmental trauma is often more manageable with a support system. Therapy provides a safe and supportive environment, and individuals may also seek support from friends, family, or support groups.

Mind-Body Connection

Recognizing the mind-body connection is essential for recovery. Somatic therapies, such as yoga or mindfulness practices, can help individuals release stored trauma and regain a sense of control over their bodies.

Part 5: The Role of Therapy in Denver

Therapy in Denver serves as a vital resource for individuals working through developmental trauma and low self-esteem. This part of this blog highlights the specific benefits of seeking therapy in the Denver area and provides guidance for those considering therapy.

Access to Specialized Therapists

Denver offers access to a diverse range of therapists who specialize in trauma and low self-esteem. This specialization can provide individuals with tailored support for their unique experiences.

Safe and Welcoming Environment

Therapists in Denver are committed to creating safe and welcoming environments for clients. This ensures that individuals feel comfortable discussing their experiences and working through their trauma.

Evidence-Based Approaches

Denver's therapists often utilize evidence-based approaches to therapy, ensuring that individuals receive effective treatment for their developmental trauma and low self-esteem.

Community Support

Denver has a strong sense of community support. Support groups, workshops, and community resources are available to individuals seeking help and healing.


Developmental trauma can cast a long shadow over an individual's self-esteem and overall well-being. However, with the right support and therapy in Denver, healing and recovery are possible. The journey to rebuilding self-esteem and creating a more fulfilling life begins with acknowledging the impact of developmental trauma and taking the courageous step towards therapy and self-compassion.

Remember that you are not alone, and there is hope for a brighter and more self-empowered future through therapeutic healing. Book your free 30-minute consultation with me today!

  1. Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.

  2. Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy. W. W. Norton & Company.

  3. Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal Family Systems Therapy. Guilford Press.

  4. Grand, D. (2013). Brainspotting: The Revolutionary New Therapy for Rapid and Effective Change. Sounds True.

  5. Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press.

  6. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Depression.

  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.


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Dennis Guyvan, a therapist in Denver, CO. He provides individual in-person/online therapy and life coaching in Denver, CO and online coaching worldwide . Schedule your free 30-minute therapy consultation with Dennis Guyvan.


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