UBC has the perfect study for unhappy perfectionists

Vancouver university seeks participants to determine effectiveness of treatment program

Are you a perfectionist who thinks life would be perfect if only you weren’t a perfectionist?

Then you might be interested in participating in a UBC study.

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UBC psychology professor Paul Hewitt says there’s a difference between helpful traits such as being conscientious and striving for excellence and the drive to be perfect.

Perfectionism, he says, “is about correcting a perceived sense of being not good enough by being or appearing to be perfect.”

That quest to fix perceived flaws puts a lot of stress on a person’s mental health. If you’re constantly having an inner dialogue about what’s wrong with yourself or others, it can lead to all kinds of psychological distress and dysfunction.

For the past 25 years, Dr. Hewitt’s been part of developing a treatment that focuses on the root causes of a perfectionist’s behaviour.

“It is based on psychodynamic psychotherapy — which focuses on how a patient’s prior life experiences, particularly important relationships, influence their character and how they relate to others — as well as interpersonal psychotherapy, a common, in-person type of psychological treatment that centers on resolving interpersonal problems,” he says in a UBC Q & A.

Now he and his team are ready to study the effectiveness of this treatment, which is done both individually and in group settings, when compared to other forms of psychological treatment.

UBC says “individuals who are struggling with perfectionism…. will be invited for a screening interview over the phone followed by an initial clinical assessment at the UBC Vancouver campus with one of the PhD clinical psychology students. During the assessment, participants will be asked to share the difficulties they are facing with perfectionism and related issues, and to complete some questionnaires. If eligible, individuals will participate in a 12-week group psychotherapy program.”

If you are interested in taking part, contact the Hewitt Lab at 604-822-0932 or online at hewittlab.psych.ubc.ca

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