Overcoming Perfectionism Workshop

Perfectionism is not a disorder in itself, but it can lead to a range of emotional difficulties including depression, anxiety and stress. Perfectionism is a trait that is often associated with achievement and success. It’s OK (and even admirable) to want to work hard and achieve a goal, but the question is “at what cost?”. There are many costs to being a perfectionist, including physical and mental exhaustion, lack of work/life balance, low self-esteem, and an inability to appreciate the small pleasures in life.


  • Base their self-worth on their achievements, i.e., “if I don’t achieve perfection, then I am a failure”
  • Give themselves a tough time when they (or others) make mistakes
  • Are more vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression
  • Struggle to see the bigger picture
  • Find it difficult to enjoy an activity unless they are winning or excelling at it
  • Are overly critical of themselves and others

Perfectionism and Self-Evaluation

Perfectionists tend to judge themselves harshly when they make mistakes or when they perform less well than expected. A key feature of perfectionism is that the individual over-identifies with achievement and success, to the deteriment of their relationships, social life, and well-being.

Perfectionists tend to push themselves beyond their limits. Moreover, they never seem to be satisfied with excellence. They require perfection in order to feel good about themselves. They judge themselves based on what they do; not on who they are. This can be problematic in several ways. What happens when you have an “off” day, i.e., when you’re unable to complete a task as well as you’d like? What happens when external factors prevent you from reaching your goal? Or you are ill, or haven’t slept well, and, as a result, are performing less well than you’d like to? Are you a lesser person because your performance isn’t 100%? Has your value changed because you didn’t complete the task as well as you would have liked? In the mind of a perfectionist-the answer to the above questions is “yes”, and it is this kind of self-evaluation that renders you vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The reality is that it is not possible to be 100% on top of your game 100% of the time. And that’s OK. In fact, if we get down to the real issue, it’s that perfection is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. Even the performance of our world class athletes varies from training session to training session, and from day to day. Being human means that we are perfectly imperfect.

Have you ever seen those TV Blooper shows where famous and well known presenters slip-up and make mistakes? Why do we find those moments captured on camera so funny? Because there is a part in all of us that relates to the individual who forgot their lines, or misread the cue card, or who’s skirt is tucked into their underwear (yes, it has happened to me-walking down a high street in Highgate)! Mistakes or “faux pas” happen to all of us. These “mistakes” however, don’t change who you are, nor are they likely to affect your credibility in the eyes of your peers.

However many of my clients assume that one mistake will cost them their job. This would be a very unlikely occurrence, but this worry drives their perfectionism. These are the kind of assumptions and catastrophic predictions we will examine in this workshop.

What type of perfectionist are you?

Perfectionism comes in many guises. It’s possible to be a perfectionist in one area of life, i.e., work, your physical appearance, relationships, and not in others. Some people are perfectionists at work, but at home they are super chilled out. And for others, their perfectionism is more evident at home (they obsess over how clean it is) whereas at work they just get on with things in a non perfectionist manner.

Perfectionism affects people in different ways. Some people fear failure so much that they have difficulty getting started on tasks. Others fear mistakes so much that they check and re-check their work or emails excessively before hitting ‘send’. Whatever the nature of your perfectionism, CBT can help you manage it a bit better!

A perfectionist’s thinking tends to be very rigid, i.e., “if I delegate a piece of work, it won’t get done properly and I’ll end up having to re-do it myself”; “if I let my anxiety show during my presentation, it would be awful” & “I mustn’t make any mistakes in this piece of work”. As a result, perfectionists adopt a whole range of behavioural strategies to avoid the anxiety so often associated with the fear of making a mistake, i.e., over-preparing, excessive checking, avoiding getting started, refusing to delegate and taking too much on themselves, etc. This can result in stress and burn-out.

Perfectionists often spend an excessive amount of time on tasks. Often, the additional time spent on a task is not justified, especially when the value added from the additional hour or two is insignificant and there are more important or urgent tasks in need of your attention.

Most perfectionists share the following belief: “if I lower my standards I will fail/my performance will suffer”.

Two important points to make about this:

1. CBT for Perfectionism is not about lowering standards. We are all for aiming high.

It’s not the fact that you want to do well that is the problem. It’s a) how you go about it, i.e., relentlessly, and at the cost of your health, well-being and relationships, and b) what you tell yourself when you do not achieve your high standards, i.e., “I’m not good enough, I am a failure”, that are the issues.

In this Perfectionism Workshop you will learn how to objectively assess the helpfulness of your beliefs that drive your perfectionism, i.e., “if this isn’t perfect, I can’t submit it” “I must achieve a high standard otherwise it would be awful” so that your self-esteem is not at risk should you not meet your high standards, and you will learn how to be more accepting of yourself regardless of how well you perform in certain areas of your life. You are more than just your performance on a task. You are more than your salary. You are more than your title.

2. There is evidence to suggest that the amount of time you invest on a task does not always lead to an increase in output, i.e., spending another hour on a task may not lead to improvement on that task. Checking and re-checking is not always necessary. We also know that taking breaks can actually improve performance. And so whereas you may drive yourself hard to achieve, at the cost of (taking breaks, eating lunch, getting home early enough to put your kids to bed, getting enough sleep), it is possible that you can afford to devote more time to other areas of your life, i.e., family, self-care, without compromising your standards and performance. This is what CBT will help you assess and understand.

What can you expect to learn in this workshop?

You will learn how to:

  • Assess your perfectionism and develop an understanding of how it may be impacting you
  • Identify the thoughts, beliefs, rules and assumptions that drive your perfectionistic behaviours
  • Make small behavioural changes without necessarily compromising your performance
  • Evaluate your existing beliefs around performance and self-worth
  • Be more accepting of yourself when you do not meet your high standards
  • Experiment with changing the way you approach tasks, i.e., reduce the amount of time spent on a task, reduce the amount of checking or preparation you do, etc without compromising output

Why a workshop format?

There are many benefits to learning in a group environment and these include:

  • Cost effective: workshops are more cost effective than individual therapy sessions. This is an eight-week workshop, and each two-hour workshop costs £80.00 (£40/hour) as compared to £140 for a 50 minute individual CBT session. Twelve individual CBT sessions (12 being the average number of CBT sessions) can cost in excess of £1500, whereas in an eight-week workshop you will receive 16 hours of clinical input for a fraction of the cost.
  • Greater opportunity for learning: in a workshop format, not only do you have the benefit of your workshop leader’s knowledge and expertise, but you also benefit from the input of the other participants. A workshop format provides you with the opportunity to receive honest feedback from other participants. This is more valuable than you know. By sharing your insights and thoughts with each other, participants gain a fresh perspective when thinking about their own difficulties and challenges.
  • Connecting with others: You will have the opportunity to connect with other individuals who are experiencing similar challenges to yourself, in a safe, and confidential space. The realization “they get me” can be incredibly comforting! Embarking on the overcoming perfectionism journey with other perfectionists can help you feel understood and accepted.
  • Hands-on practice: workshops allow for interaction, as well as trying out new skills and techiques “in-session”. Workshops provide you with “practice buddies” with whom you can practice new skills and behaviours in a safe and confidential environment.
  • Inspirational: having others in the workshop support you in your efforts to tackle your perfectionism can help motivate you to make a behavioural change that you might not have considered making before. Similarly, hearing how fellow participants have changed the way they think and behave might inspire you to make your own changes.
  • Fun: workshops can be fun! Whilst trying to address your perfectionism, it’s also important to have fun in the process. The ethos of the group is based on self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. We are all in this together!

Overcoming Perfectionism Workshop Details

Where and When?

Dates: Wednesday evenings (dates to be announced)

Time: 6:00PM-8:00PM

Location: Canary Wharf, London (address and a map will be sent to you upon registration)

Cost: £640.00 (full rate) or £595.00 (three weeks prior to the start date)


There are only 8 places available on this workshop so don’t leave it too long to register!

This workshop runs for 8 weeks on Wednesday evenings. You will be expected to attend every week.

What are the next steps?

If you or someone you know, may be a candidate for this Overcoming Perfectionism workshop, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Contact me using the button below, or phone me on (020) 7531-1220 to arrange a 30-minute assessment (either on the phone or a face to face meet). The purpose of this preliminary assessment is to assess your suitability for the workshop, and to ensure there are no other mental health problems that might make it difficult for you to participate fully in the group, i.e., if you are suffering with moderate-severe depression, I might suggest a few individual therapy sessions before commencing the workshop.
  2. Once we agree on your suitability for this workshop, you will be sent a registation form to complete. A £300 deposit is due at the time of registration.
  3. Two weeks prior to the starting date, the balance will be due. Once this payment is received, a written confirmation and invoice will be sent to you confirming your place on this workshop.
Each participant will receive a complimentary copy of Overcoming Perfectionism (Shafan, Egan & Wade, 2010) who’s work this workshop is based on.

Ready to register your interest in this Overcoming Perfectionism workshop?

Ready to register your interest in this Overcoming Perfectionism workshop?

Know of someone who might benefit from this workshop?