A preliminary evaluation of cognitive-behaviour therapy for clinical perfectionism: A case series

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Abstract

Objective

The construct of ‘clinical perfectionism’ has been developed in response to criticisms that other approaches have failed to yield advances in the treatment of the type of self-oriented perfectionism that poses a clinical problem. The primary aim of this study was to conduct a preliminary investigation into the efficacy of a theory-driven, cognitive-behavioural intervention for ‘clinical perfectionism’.

Design

A multiple baseline single case series design was used.

Method

A specific, 10-session cognitive-behavioural intervention to address clinical perfectionism in eating disorders was adapted to allow its use in nine patients referred with a range of axis I disorders and clinical perfectionism.

Results

The intervention led to clinically significant improvements in self-referential perfectionism from pretreatment to follow-up for six of the nine participants on two perfectionism measures and for three of the nine participants on the measure of clinical perfectionism. Statistically significant improvements from pre- to post-intervention for the group as a whole were found on all three measures. The improvements were maintained at follow-up.

Conclusions

The finding that clinical perfectionism is improved in the majority of participants is particularly encouraging given that perfectionism has traditionally been viewed as a personality characteristic resistant to change. These preliminary findings warrant replication in a larger study.

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