Perfectionism, overachieving, high standards, often with costs to your relationships and self-confidence. Does this sound like you? Can personal success be achieved another way… a more flexible way?


What can unhelpful perfectionism look like?

Perfectionism occurs when we learn patterns that may be helpful to achieve success in the beginning, but as time goes on they become rigid and unhelpful. Perfectionism can be motivating….sometimes.

Jennifer Kemp describes five processes that define unhelpful perfectionism:

  1. Establishing highly ambitious and rigid performance standards and consistently raising the bar over time
  2. Experiencing an intense fear of failure or mistakes
  3. Constant self-criticism
  4. Avoidance of situations, places, or people in order to avoid feelings of self-criticism and failure
  5. This avoidance tends to cause larger issues

How do I address perfectionism in therapy?

In therapy, my aim is to delve into the roots of perfectionism, unraveling its underlying motivators. With this insight, we can learn ways to recognize and to not get tangled up in thoughts and emotions that veer us away from what truly matters. Surprisingly, we don’t want to totally dismantle perfectionistic tendencies, as high standards can be beneficial. Can we keep our high standards and be more flexible in how we define success?

Values - A key piece in combating perfectionism

I always find it helpful to guide a client to clarify their values. What is important to them, and how do they actually want to be living their life? What do they want to be doing more or less of? From there, we can assess if their perfectionistic behaviors are taking them towards or away from where they want to be.

Building self compassion

My hope is for clients to learn to treat themselves with kindness and understanding. This involves acknowledging imperfections as a natural part of being human and responding with the same compassion they would offer to a friend.

If you'd like to schedule a free phone consult with me to see if we would be a good fit for therapy, contact us today!

For more on self compassion:

For more on perfectionism I recommended Jennifer Kemp’s workbook:

References from this blog post came from Jennifer Kemp’s website-



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