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Are Perfectionist Therapists Perfect? The Relationship between Therapist Perfectionism and Client Outcomes in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • Vickie L. Presley (a1), Christopher A. Jones (a1) and Elizabeth K. Newton (a1)


Background: The psychological literature suggests that therapist perfectionism is common and potentially detrimental to client recovery. Little is known about the relationship between therapist perfectionism and client outcomes. Aims: This study aimed to measure perfectionism in High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural therapists, and establish any relationships between dimensions of therapist perfectionism, client outcomes and drop-out rates in treatment. Method: Thirty-six therapists took part in the study; levels of perfectionism were measured using a self-report questionnaire and these were analysed in relation to the clinical outcomes from a sample of their clients. Results: The results indicated that therapist perfectionism may be less common than previously suggested. Overall, a number of significant negative associations were observed between aspects of therapist perfectionism (e.g. having high standards for others), treatment efficacy and client retention in treatment. Conclusions: Therapist perfectionism is associated with CBT treatment outcomes; tentative recommendations for therapists managing their own schema as part of their clinical practice have been made, although further investigation is required.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: Vickie Presley, School of Psychological, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB. Email:


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Are Perfectionist Therapists Perfect? The Relationship between Therapist Perfectionism and Client Outcomes in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

  • Vickie L. Presley (a1), Christopher A. Jones (a1) and Elizabeth K. Newton (a1)
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