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Perfectionism Therapy

Perfectionists are never happy with what they achieve, they can always do better and will often experience feelings of failure as the goals they set can be unrealistic and many times, impossible to reach.

Some characteristics of perfectionists are: –

  • Viewing mistakes as failures
  • Holding high, unrealistic goals
  • Spending excessive amounts of time planning or redoing work in an attempt to make it perfect
  • Being risk adverse unless “success” is guaranteed
  • Feedback or criticism is feared
  • Can find it difficult to adapt if plans do not go the way they planned.

Now it’s easy to see how holding such high standards can lead to a range of difficulties, so you –

  • Feel like you fail at everything you try.
  • procrastinate regularly — you might resist starting a task because you’re afraid that you’ll be unable to complete it perfectly.
  • Struggle to relax and share your thoughts and feelings.

Am I a Perfectionist?

For some, perfectionism is positive.  They use their drive and goals to strive for the life they want.  They can push for perfection, without a loss of self-esteem and they also feel pleased about the effort and commitment they make.

For others, the impacts of perfectionism can be negative. They rarely feel satisfied or secure about what they’ve done, frequently being critical of themselves and others, who continue to fall short of perfectionist standards.

The origins or causes of perfectionism are less clear.  It could be caused by a fear of judgement, or a way of avoiding any disapproval from others.  Early childhood experiences, such as having parents who communicate unrealistic expectations, could play a role.  If you  believe that your self-worth is based on achievements, perfectionism may find fertile ground to develop.

So, while most would consider having high standards and striving for excellence a good thing, as this enables some of our elite sports people to train long and hard to reach excellence. Perfectionism can involve setting impossible standards and that anything short of perfection is terrible, some believing that minor imperfections are catastrophic.  Can you imagine going through life believing that you should never make a mistake?

So when perfectionism is operating you might feel:-

  • Anxious about many of the things you try.
  • Procrastinate, because the finished product is likely to be imperfect.
  • Low Mood – as you seem unable to achieve the goals you set yourself.
  • Isolated or Lonely – as you avoid people who can seem to reinforce your deficiencies.

Of course, producing high quality work, with laser like focus and attention to detail is exciting.   But when the consequences of imperfection are small, or we need to deliver something quickly which is “good enough”, then perfectionist tendencies can be less than helpful and sometimes harmful.

Therefore, it may be worthwhile considering the standards you use, and how you judge yourself.  Would it help to loosen these standards and ease the stress and anxiety of trying so hard to be perfect? Or does even the thought of loosening your standards elicit fear and anxiety?

Not sure which therapist or type of therapy you need?

Get in touch with Maggie Morrow, Award Winning Therapist & KlearMinds Director.
Maggie can help match you with the right therapist based on your needs.

What Can Help?

  • Recognise Perfectionism – there is nothing wrong with having high standards, but if these standards are too high, they can get in the way of your work, relationships, and life.
  • Realistic Thinking – replace self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with more realistic statements.  For example, “nobody is perfect”, “all I can do is my best”, “making a mistake is not catastrophic, its human”.
  • Looking at the Big Picture – perfectionists tend to get bogged down in details and worry a great deal about the small or little things.
  • Setting Realistic Standards – although I would like to be employee of the year, is that reasonable in my first year?

How Can KlearMinds help you with Perfectionism?

It is possible to learn techniques that reduce the impact of perfectionism on our life and prevent excessive anxiety.  Our therapists use a powerful combination of CBT, counselling and coaching to help you:-

  • Understand the factors that cause your perfectionism
  • Discover how to recognise physiological symptoms of stress and anxiety that often accompany perfectionistic thinking
  • Explore alternatives strategies to replace perfectionism

Meet Our Qualified Therapists

Andrea Tibbitts

Andrea is a highly experienced relationship therapist and coach, with over 15 years clinical experience providing marriage and relationship counselling. She is passionate about empowering couples to be the best version of themselves and to live their best lives. She can help you and your partner to identify and address the root causes of problematic patterns which have a negative impact on your relationship.

Karen Gubb

Karen is a highly experienced psychologist, executive and career coach with more than 15 years experience helping adults address a wide range of concerns. Karen draws upon a variety of therapies and coaching skills, tailoring her approach, to best suit the learning style of each client. Karen works proactively. She can help you understand and constructively change problematic beliefs and patterns of behaviour that inhibit your ability to realise your personal goals.

Amanda Reynolds

Amanda is a highly experienced Advanced CBT and Integrative therapist with more than 8 years experience. She draws upon a wide range of therapies and works proactively to help clients understand, process and resolve their concerns and conflicts. Amanda can assist you to quickly identify problematic thoughts and behaviours which negatively impact your personal and professional well-being.

Mita Hiremath

Mita is a highly experienced psychotherapist and counsellor with over 20 years of clinical experience. She is passionate about helping clients overcome issues they have been struggling with for months and sometimes years. Mita draws upon a range of therapies including, CBT, Mindfulness and EMDR, which she tailors to best suit each client she works with.

Paul Glynn

Written By

This page was written by Paul Glynn – KlearMinds Clinical Director
MSc Counselling, PG Adv Cert CBT, Adv Cert Clinical Supervision, BPhil, MBACP (Accred) and medically reviewed in March 2022.

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