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Research Spotlight: Overcoming Perfectionism with Internet-Based Guided Self-Help CBT

Radha Kothari talks about the article her and her colleagues published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research titled “Overcoming Perfectionism: Protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial of an Internet-Based Guided Self-Help Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention.”

In short, what is the study about?

We are using a randomized controlled trial method to investigate whether an internet-based guided self-help intervention based on cognitive behavioral techniques can reduce unhelpful perfectionism. We are also investigating whether the intervention leads to a decrease in anxiety and depression.

What would you say are the key take-home messages from this study?

We know that internet-based cognitive-behavioural treatments for problems such as depression and anxiety can be helpful, but very few studies have looked at whether such interventions can reduce unhelpful perfectionism. It seems as though internet-based interventions are more helpful when there is someone to provide guidance throughout the intervention. This study will investigate whether an internet based, cognitive behavioral treatment for unhelpful perfectionism with personalized guidance can reduce unhelpful perfectionism and associated anxiety and depression.

How will the findings be important in practice?

It may be that this internet-based self-help intervention for perfectionism that uses guides to provide personalized feedback and support is effective in reducing unhelpful perfectionism. If this is the case, then we hope that in the future people will be able to get a scientifically-supported intervention which they can complete at home to help them in their lives.

Woman enrolled in Self-Help Course

Research explores whether an Internet-based guided self-help course can reduce perfectionism and relieve the related feelings of anxiety and depression

Who would benefit from this sort of intervention?

Being a perfectionist can be both helpful and unhelpful. Perfectionism is commonly associated with success and achievement, but when a person’s self-worth is too reliant on that achievement, it can cause significant problems Perfectionists often live by rules that dominate their lives, rules that are often expressed as “should” and “musts.” People with unhelpful perfectionism will often strive for success and achievement at any cost to avoid what they perceive as “failure.” This fear of failure and feelings of being overwhelmed can lead to behavior such as avoidance, procrastination, repeated checking and excessive thoroughness. Anyone who experiences the more unhelpful aspects of being a perfectionist could benefit from this sort of intervention.

Will I be able to learn the outcome of the study?

The results of the study will be published in 2017. It will be possible to access them on my ResearchGate profile.

Link to the primary paper

Kothari, R., Egan, S., Wade, T., Andersson, G., & Shafran, R. (2016). Overcoming perfectionism: Protocol of a randomized controlled trial of an Internet-based guided self-help Cognitive Behavioral Therapy intervention. JMIR Research Protocols, 5(4), e215. DOI: 10.2196/resprot.6378

About Radha Kothari, PhD, Clinical Psychologist

Alternative Text

Radha Kothari completed her PhD investigating The Neuropsychological Profile of Children at High Risk of Developing Eating Disorders at University College London in 2012. She is currently training to be a Clinical Psychologist and conducting research into the treatment of unhelpful perfectionism with Professor Roz Shafran.

Radha Kothari on the Web
More on: Adult Mental Health Care, CBT, Research, Therapy
Latest update: February 16, 2017