Perhaps because “perfectionist” is a word that we all bandy about very readily, saying things like, “He’s such a perfectionist, he’ll get it done right!” it can be easy to overlook that perfectionism can be not just a psychological disorder in its own right, but also a significant contributing factor to a range of other problems, including low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, and difficulties with sleep and emotional regulation.

So what is Perfectionism?

Imagine someone who feels that if everything they do is not 100% perfect, they are a failure as a human being. A perfectionist typically sets standards for themselves that are so high that they are either impossible or immensely difficult to reach. Under this sort of pressure, they approach every task already in a state of heightened anxiety and stress. If any little thing goes wrong, even if it’s something completely beyond their control, their self-esteem and sense of order are struck a terrible blow, and they can begin to experience great distress. All of this can have huge repercussions for their ability to form healthy relationships with others, work effectively, and making healthy choices for themselves.

Can psychotherapy help perfectionism?

Psychotherapy can make a very big difference. Perhaps most importantly of all, it can help the sufferer to recognise that they have a problem, and assist them in finding a way to challenge the beliefs and behaviours that contribute to their perfectionism. Perfectionists can be helped to recognise that we all make mistakes and that their mistakes – like everyone else’s – are an opportunity to learn and not necessarily a gateway to inevitable catastrophe. Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy can also help them to manage the difficult emotions of stress, panic, depression and anxiety that can result when things aren’t as perfect as they feel they should be.

If you would like to talk to someone about perfectionism, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic by telephone at: 020 81507563 or by email to:

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