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

Vickie Presley, Chris Jones, Elizabeth Newton

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-237
Number of pages12
Journal Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2017


Bibliographical note

This article has been published in a revised form in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy . This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © copyright holder.


  • CBT
  • Outcomes
  • Perfectionism
  • Therapist schema

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