Negative treatment of self in socially anxious clients

Capaldi, Kay and Elliott, Robert (2023) Negative treatment of self in socially anxious clients. Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1477-9757 (

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Exploring and working with the quality of a person’s self-relationship is central to the therapeutic process. Whilst research has often focused upon the measurement of concepts such as self-criticism, perfectionism and self-efficacy, there has been limited study of how the self-relationship, particularly as it relates to negative treatment of self (NTS), presents itself in discourse within therapy sessions. The current study was intended to examine the broader concept of negative treatment of self in socially anxious clients who participated in a research study on emotion-focused therapy for social anxiety (EFT-SA). Utilising a client self-report measure, four participants were selected based on high pre-therapy scores within the respective self-relationship domains of self-attack, self-control, self-neglect and self-affiliation. We carried out qualitative descriptive-interpretative analyses of session 2 therapy transcripts for each participant to identify the main themes of negative self-treatment. This investigation revealed both obvious and subtle client process indicators of different aspects of NTS: Objects (Being, Doing, Having), Directness (Direct vs Indirect), Modes (Self-Attack, Hostile Control, Hostile Neglect & Hostile Freedom), and Emotional Effects (Fear, Sadness, Anger, Shame). In addition to mapping nuances, the varying dimensions were incorporated into a comprehensive definition of negative treatment of self.


Capaldi, Kay ORCID logoORCID: and Elliott, Robert ORCID logoORCID:;