Perfectionism : A Relational Approach to Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment book cover
1st Edition

A Relational Approach to Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment

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ISBN 9781462528721
Published April 26, 2017 by Guilford Press
336 Pages

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Book Description

Grounded in decades of influential research, this book thoroughly examines perfectionism: how it develops, its underlying mechanisms and psychological costs, and how to target it effectively in psychotherapy. The authors describe how perfectionistic tendencies--rooted in early relational and developmental experiences--make people vulnerable to a wide range of clinical problems. They present an integrative treatment approach and demonstrate ways to tailor interventions to the needs of individual clients. A group treatment model is also detailed. State-of-the-art assessment tools are discussed (and provided at the companion website). Throughout the book, vivid clinical illustrations make the core ideas and techniques concrete.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Perfectionism
2. The Comprehensive Model of Perfectionistic Behavior
3. Evidence for the Clinical Relevance of Perfectionism
4. The Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model: Development of Perfectionism
5. The Perfectionism Social Disconnection Model: Perfectionism and Maladjustment
6. A Theoretical Model for Treatment of Perfectionistic Behavior
7. Psychodiagnostic Assessment of Perfectionism
8. Clinical Cases and Common Themes
9. Individual Psychotherapy of Perfectionism
10. Group Psychotherapy of Perfectionistic Behavior
Epilogue. Overview and Future Considerations

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Paul L. Hewitt, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association and of the Association's Section on Clinical Psychology. Dr. Hewitt was recently cited as one of the top 10 Canadian clinical psychology professors for research productivity. He has published over 200 research papers, books, and chapters on perfectionism, psychopathology, and psychotherapy, and has conducted collaborative work on perfectionism with Gordon L. Flett since 1989. He has a private practice in clinical psychology, consults with numerous organizations, and is regularly asked to speak at national and international conferences on perfectionism research and treatment.

Gordon L. Flett, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Personality and Health and is Director of the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research. Formerly, he was Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education in the Faculty of Health. Dr. Flett is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, which has cited him as one of the top 25 most productive authors in psychology. Best known for his research on personality and depression, as well as his collaborative work on perfectionism with Paul L. Hewitt since 1989, he has been the guest editor of several special journal issues on perfectionism.

Samuel F. Mikail, PhD, ABPP, maintains a private clinical psychology practice in Newmarket, Canada; consults to private insurers on mental health disability claims; and is an adjunct clinical faculty member at the University of Waterloo. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) and of the CPA's Section on Clinical Psychology. His clinical writing and research publications have spanned the fields of mental health, health psychology, rehabilitation, and spirituality. Dr. Mikail serves on the Board of Directors of the CPA, where he is Practice Chair and Chair of Professional Affairs. He received the award for Excellence in Professional Psychology Training from the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs and was recognized for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Training by the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group.


"This book could be a career saver for narrowly trained recent graduates who have discovered they need a greatly expanded repertoire to cope with clinical reality. Steeped in research and rich with clear examples from clinical practice, the book shows how the destructive 'trait' of perfectionism can be better understood in interpersonal and intrapsychic terms that are directly related to family history, social context, and more. It includes very informative discussions of how to use the authors' integrative approach in individual and group therapy."--Lorna Smith Benjamin, PhD, Department of Psychology (Emeritus), University of Utah

"The authors have made enormous contributions to our understanding of perfectionism, an affliction that permeates our culture and is implicated in a plethora of mental disorders. This definitive volume lays out their transdiagnostic model of perfectionistic behavior and how to treat it. The best and most comprehensive volume on perfectionism, this is a 'must read' for scholars and clinicians who study and treat all forms of psychopathology."--Randy O. Frost, PhD, Harold and Elsa Siipola Israel Professor of Psychology, Smith College

"A near-perfect overview of the scope and dangers of perfectionism. The authors define the problem and carefully review the development of major concepts and models. They present creative ways of helping patients burdened with pathological perfectionism, illustrated with clinical vignettes. I recommend this important book."--J. Scott Rutan, PhD, private practice, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

"Hewitt et al. are world leaders in the field who have pioneered our understanding of the demands of self-perfection, the perfection of others, and fear that others expect perfection from us. As this book brilliantly highlights, the cost of these mental struggles can be enormous, driving people to severe depression, other mental health problems, and even suicide. It is also well known that perfectionists can be difficult to help, making the authors' compassionate insights for therapeutic engagement immensely useful. This is an outstanding book for its scholarship, clarity, and clinical wisdom--I learned a lot from it, and others will, too."--Paul Gilbert, PhD, FBPsS, OBE, Centre for Compassion Research and Training, University of Derby, United Kingdom

"An excellent contribution. This book has special relevance for the field of eating disorders, as sufferers are driven by perfectionism about their weight and appearance. Clinical illustrations give a vivid impression of the development of perfectionism and the different functions of perfectionistic behavior, and make the book well suited for training."--Susanne Lunn, MSc, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
-Very comprehensive…including research findings, case examples, and the history of literature on perfectionism….The authors make the important point that people who suffer from perfectionistic standards often do not get help with this specific problem….One very positive aspect of the book is that it integrates theoretical approaches without trying to push only one orientation….The authors do an excellent job of showing the heterogeneity of perfectionists--etiologies can be very different, although not surprisingly, they share a background of unmet needs….The authors have succeeded in demonstrating that perfectionism is a fundamental personality construct and cannot be minimized by reducing it to neurotic conscientiousness of the five-factor model of personality.--PsycCRITIQUES, 9/18/2017