Study aims to root out trouble with perfection

Volunteers are needed for a study that will measure the effectiveness of group psychotherapy in treating perfectionism and its related symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.

Perfectionism becomes a problem when people feel they must be flawless to feel adequate or worthy, says Paul Hewitt, associate professor in the Dept. of Psychology. Such excessive expectations can lead to increased feelings of failure.

In previous studies, Hewitt has linked perfectionism to social ills such as depression, alcoholism, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and suicide.

This latest study, part of graduate student Carol Flynn's PhD thesis, will examine if perfectionists can benefit from group therapy and will attempt to predict which patients would benefit most.

Hewitt says he has made gains with people troubled by perfectionist tendencies during one-on-one therapy and hopes to translate this into a group format.

"We expect to see some really positive benefits," he says.

The study, which starts this month, will involve about 60-70 people receiving treatment in small groups during 12 weekly sessions.

Under Hewitt's supervision, sessions will be led by senior-level clinical psychology PhD students.

The sessions will provide study subjects with information that will help them to understand perfectionism and will also give them the opportunity to discuss personal issues.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study should call 604-822-0932.