Insecure Pattern


Withdrawn, self-effacing, easily hurt, shy, tentative

Awkward in social or performance situations

Fearful of self-expression or reaching out to others

Acts so as to avoid success or being too much for others

Can experience a demand to perform and feel inadequate. Usually freezes.

May expect to be excluded from groups or triads; feels she can’t compete with another for the attention of a third person



Expects to be rejected by others, to not be recognized, validated, or appreciated

Feels not desirable

Feels incompetent and inadequate


Core Issues/Origins

Inadequacy, shame

Derives from rejection, lack of validation or mirroring



No one sees me or likes me. I can’t do it.


Unconscious Thought

I am not interesting or desirable. I am inadequate.



Self: Not desirable, inadequate, incompetent

Other: Desirable, powerful, judgmental, rejecting


Sees Others As

People who can potentially reject or validate the client


Healthy Capacities Blocked

Belonging, confidence, value


Gender and Culture

More common in classes and cultures that are oppressed

Used to be more common in women


Activating Conditions

Social situations

Situations where one is performing or being evaluated

Large groups or groups of strangers

People who are judgmental or aloof

Peopl who the client is attracted to or wants approval from

Sometimes activated by triads



The needy pattern is characterized by the person’s degree of need, while the insecure pattern is characterized by the person’s fear of rejection.

The self-judging pattern can also involve feeling inadequate and insecure and they often go together, but the insecure person projects it onto others and may not be internally judging, while some self-judging people are only harsh on themselves internally




Socially Insecure

Afraid of being rejected in social situations, especially dating


Insecure about Relationships

Fearful of being rejected when the other gets to know the client well


Insecure about Work

Fearful of being competent and successful in work


Fear of Success

Fear of being successful or of being too much for others



Generally phobic, agoraphobic, hypochondriac, fears about disaster, death



Feels pressured to perform by others and feels inadequate to meet the perceived demand

Sometimes combined with passive-aggressive pattern 


Combinations of Insecure Pattern with Other Patterns

Needy: Feels insecure about the degree of need

Codependent: Feels insecure about being caring and giving enough

Isolated: Withdraws and keeps a distance in response to social fears

Suspicious: Looks of evidence that others will reject him




Related Technical Concepts

Avoidant personality disorder

Social phobias

“Closet narcissist”



The client fears being judged and rejected by the therapist and desperately wants to be accepted and liked


Countertransference toward Insecure Client

Overly involved in reassuring client

Repulsed by client’s insecurities


Countertransference of Insecure Therapist

Needing too much reassurance from clients.

Hurt by clients’ negative feelings.

Difficulty challenging clients or setting boundaries or any intervention that won’t be popular with clients

Feels inadequate as therapist


Group Roles/Positions

The silent member




Forming the Alliance and Disconfirming the Pattern

Being warm, accepting, interested, and empathic helps to bring the client into therapy and disconfirm her expectations of being rejected.


Understanding of Pattern Needed by Client

Not much needed here. Insecure client generally know they are.


Accessing Core Issue and Origins

It is important for the client to reveal her insecurities, even if she fears that this will make her less desirable to you (or group members)

The rejection and lack of mirroring.

Also anger about this. This can be an important validation for the person to be angry about what she didn’t get.



Receiving caring, understanding, interest, empathy

The critical thing is whether the client can take it in, because it clashes with her underlying negative belief system about herself

Eventually the client must value herself


Accessing Healthy Capacities

Aggressive desire


Experimenting with Healthy Behavior

Reaching out to others despite fears of rejection

Speaking up despite fears



Appreciation for taking risks

Positive responses from others


Healing Relationship 

A relationship in which the client learns to reach out and speak up and is received positively


Potential Problems 

If continued reparation and reinforcement don’t work, deeper access may be needed or the client may need to develop more self-valuing. Also look for underlying victim or passive-aggressive pattern