Perfectionism: nothing is ever good enough, even ‘done’. Days are too short to fit it all in. You’d rather not start something, as it’ll be so much work and you expect to fail at it anyway. You feel anxious, depressed, you dislike yourself and fear your boss, your teacher, your parents.
Also perfectionism: you are highly accomplished. You get rewarded, promoted, and encouraged. People appreciate and envy your skills and competence. You achieve the highest grades and are sought after by employers.
But then there is yet another argument with your spouse, or you beat yourself up for being second in a race. You feel worthless as if you can’t contribute, do not serve a purpose. You may develop mental health problems including depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, or burnout.
‘Perfectionism’ is not an official diagnosis and has been neglected by much of the literature on the treatment of mental illness. However, a few authors¹ have written about the model they developed to treat it. Derived from academic evidence and their expertise in Cognitive-Behavioural therapy, they devised a model and a protocol that allow us to help you.
Therapy aims to identify and help you adjust high standards where they are unhelpful while keeping them in place where they matter. It helps you be less emotionally affected by (not) meeting your expectations and allows your self-confidence to grow from more than just your accomplishments. Self-criticism and other counterproductive behaviours like procrastination, avoidance, reassurance-seeking, and repeated checking will be addressed and evaluated. Practical skills including problem-solving and experimenting with change are key to the treatment.
Several of our therapists have trained in CBT for Perfectionism, adding to their existing skill sets. We welcome your reaching out to us.
About the Author:
Kirstine Postma CPsych
Kirstine Postma is a clinical psychologist practicing in Ottawa. She is trained in CBT and EMDR,
Interpersonal Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. She also works as a trainer and supervisor in CBT.
Kirstine specialises in the treatment of PTSD, using multiple evidence-based models.
1. Egan S.J., Wade T.D., Shafran R., Antony M.M. (2014): Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Perfectionism.