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Cheek, J. Kealy, D. Hewitt, P.L. Mikail, S.F. Flett, G.L. Ko, A. Jia, M. (2018). Addressing the Complexity of Perfectionism in Clinical Practice. Psychodyn. Psych., 46(4):457-489.

(2018). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 46(4):457-489

Addressing the Complexity of Perfectionism in Clinical Practice

Joanna Cheek, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., David Kealy, Ph.D., Paul L. Hewitt, Ph.D., Samuel F. Mikail, Ph.D., Gordon L. Flett, Ph.D., Ariel Ko and Mary Jia, M.A.

Perfectionism, defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, is a multidimensional personality construct that makes individuals vulnerable to a host of clinical problems including depression, anxiety, personality and eating disorders, as well as suicide behaviors, interpersonal dysfunction, and difficulties achieving successful therapeutic outcome. Given the detrimental associations with perfectionism, it is crucial that mental health professionals be familiar with and able to identify patients presenting with perfectionistic characteristics. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of a comprehensive conceptualization of perfectionism and its assessment and treatment in clinical practice based on the psychodynamic and interpersonal perspective of Hewitt et al. (2017). This article presents conceptual models of perfectionism, assessment measures, treatment considerations and challenges, and a case example of a patient with perfectionism. Through understanding the nature and treatment of perfectionism, clinicians can broaden and strengthen their knowledge and skill in helping patients struggling with perfectionistic difficulties and the attendant symptoms, syndromes, and disorders.

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