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Perfectionism carries with it the appearance of someone hard-working, high-achieving and exacting. It is often spoken of as a positive personality characteristic. Yet perfectionism has deep and long-standing ties to anxiety, depression, and disordered eating to name a few. When perfectionism is experienced positively, it tends to be motivating and encourages a person to work harder and achieve goals. When perfectionism is experienced negatively, it can lead to unrealistic expectations, fear of failure, rigid thinking, self-criticism and avoidance. These are the issues that can be helped by cognitive behavior therapy.

Unhelpful Perfectionism:

  • fear of failure

  • inability to learn and grow following failure

  • unrealistic expectations of self and others

  • willingness to be unhealthy in pursuit of a goal

  • difficulty walking away from a project or task

  • emotional and behavioral outbursts 

  • impairment with social and family relationships

  • negative self-talk and beliefs

  • difficulty initiating tasks or projects for fear of not being able to reproduce the image in your mind

The Goal of Therapy:

  • increase awareness of the helpful and unhelpful aspects of perfectionism

  • development of a growth mindset

  • change alignment with all or nothing thinking

  • reduce the influence of unhelpful perfectionism

  • lessen the fear of failure

  • increase flexible thinking and responses

  • develop the ability to prepare for and accept alternate outcomes

  • diffuse from thoughts like "I am only as good as my accomplishments" and "My worth is based on my academic success"

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