Working with perfectionists in a clinical context: A practitioner’s perspective

In this chapter we continue the theme of considering perfectionism from an applied perspective. For nearly three decades, evidence has been accumulating to support perfectionism as a potent personality characteristic in precipitating and maintaining psychopathology including depression. Perfectionistic individuals involved in sport, dance, and exercise are likely to experience similar vulnerabilities given the high expectations for performance placed upon them, both by themselves and by others, and the frequent evaluations they endure. With those interested in the treatment of perfectionism in mind, we first provide an overview of perfectionism in sport, dance, and exercise from a clinical perspective. We then briefly review the current literature on perfectionism and psychopathology in this population. The final and most extensive part of the chapter presents a novel method of treatment for perfectionism and psychopathology currently under development, with a number of practical examples and tools for those involved in sport, dance, and exercise.