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How to Work With Perfectionist Clients as a Registered Professional Counsellor

If you’re considering becoming a registered professional counsellor, then you may want to think about how you would approach care for a client suffering from perfectionist tendencies. Sometimes perfectionism seeps into the everyday lives of individuals, making it difficult for them to function in their activities of daily living without intense feelings of stress, anxiety, guilt, or burnout (GoodTherapy, 2019). 

At Rhodes Wellness College, you can expect to gain the comprehensive skills required to accurately assess and approach care for a wide range of clientele. Whether you decide to work with individuals or groups, your counselling skills will lead you to a rewarding and successful career as you help others lead fulfilling lives. Continue reading to discover considerations when helping clients who experience perfectionist tendencies.

Understand the Related Mental Health Implications

Generally, perfectionism is known to have a negative impact on an individual’s mental health state (GoodTherapy, 2019). Because this habit is often associated with vulnerability and lack of resilience, individuals often report challenges with their levels of anxiety, stress, and burnout and may even suffer from more severe symptoms such as depression, OCD, and eating disorders (GoodTherapy, 2019). 

As an aspiring professional in clinical counsellor training, you will want to be aware of the signs that someone may be struggling with perfectionism. Understanding the qualities of this mental state will not only help you quickly recognize what your client is going through, but it will also allow you to find the best tools for them to use to see progress. Rhodes Wellness College helps students learn how to listen carefully to clients, assess their situations, and help them find successful solutions.

As a registered professional counsellor, you’ll notice that individuals may be affected by perfectionism differently.

Providing Freedom from Black-and-White Thinking as a Registered Professional Counsellor

A helpful registered professional counsellor guides clients toward productive thinking about their situations (GoodTherapy, 2019). In your future role, you can challenge clients in their black-and-white thinking that often accompanies perfectionism. You can gently remind them that one minor error or slip-up in their thinking pattern doesn’t define them and can still project them toward progress (GoodTherapy). As a counsellor, you can help shift your perfectionist clients’ thinking in terms of spectra instead of black-and-white (Shapiro, 2021). When clients can view their performance on a scale of horrible to perfect and can recognize those performances within a range along the spectrum are acceptable, they can distance themselves from dichotomous, black-and-white perfectionist thinking (Shapiro, 2022). To help them achieve this, you can come up with a series of spectra that helps them create realistic expectations based on their performances and find satisfaction in their results.

You can encourage clients to shift their patterns of thought when dealing with perfectionist tendencies.

Implementing Self-Help Strategies for Clients

Your future clients dealing with perfectionism may benefit from a number of self-help strategies that encourage them to overcome their habitual perfectionism. These strategies may vary in effectiveness based on the client but may include journaling, positive self-talk, purposeful imperfect performances, and trying new hobbies and experiences (GoodTherapy, 2019). For example, writing down or journaling positive affirmations can help reinforce self-confidence and self-assurance. Alternatively, writing down areas that are most problematic in an individual’s life can help bring to realization areas that need improvement and help pinpoint focus points for progress. RWC graduates offer a unique value to counselling clients, providing extensive physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness services that help clients live fulfilled lives.

Interested in pursuing a counsellor therapist career?

Contact Rhodes Wellness College for more information!

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