Dysfunctional perfectionism is defined as the tendency to hold excessively high standards which brings on significant distress or impairment. This could include struggling to be the perfect parent, artist, or student. Holding such standards can bring on symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and depression. At times, it can also trigger eating disordered behaviour.
Perfectionism is a dimensional construct with varying degrees of severity. David Burns (1980) argues that perfectionism can be clinically significant when it starts to impair performance and mental health. He indicated that a goal worth achieving is best to be achieved through a healthy pursuit of excellence than dysfunctional perfectionism. Burns argues that the healthy pursuit of excellence allows you to be who you are in being extra ordinary, but creates awareness in maintaining healthy self-boundaries. This means that you aren’t sacrificing your relationships, yourself, or personal boundaries to achieve goals. You can be ‘extra,’ but not give up your life doing so.
The program that we have helps individuals recognize patterns of dysfunction and creates challenges to their all or nothing thinking patterns. In other words, the world will not end if you give yourself a break, study a little less, or not get 100% on every assignment. Analyzing your path and questioning if it can be done while living the life you want is what’s imperative to the therapeutic journey.
Self-monitoring (which is done daily) is important in this type of therapy. Recognizing and challenging your thinking and behaviour helps you create change. Creating alternatives to your negative thoughts will help bring clarity and challenge core rigid beliefs. Behaviour change is also a necessary component to the program. We work with you hand in hand to help facilitate all changes. We will never force you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, but we will challenge you to see an alternative perspective that you may consider as a healthier way of operating.