Addressing Perfectionism Across Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Learning to Live by Values Instead of by Rules
Lynne Siqueland, PhD
Recorded on May 23, 2017
Perfectionism is commonly exhibited by youth with anxiety disorders, especially those diagnosed with GAD, OCD, and social anxiety disorder. Although having high standards can be advantageous, extreme perfectionism causes significant impairment. Academic impairment is commonly seen in this population, including difficulties initiating school work, turning work in late, and spending excessive time on schoolwork. Perfectionism can also impact life outside of school. Perfectionistic youth typically over-enroll in extra-curricular activities and set such high standards that they end every practice with a personal “post-mortem”. Perfectionism can also interfere in social functioning, either due to worry about how they come across to others and/or holding others to such high standards that they alienate their peers.
Fortunately, CBT has much to offer perfectionistic youth. In this webinar, Dr. Lynne Siqueland (based on the Master Clinician workshop presented at Anxiety and Depression Conference 2017 with Dr. Deborah Ledley) will share strategies for working with this challenging population. Children and teens with very high standards and expectations for themselves often do not want or are fearful of challenging their thinking or changing their behavior. Furthermore, high standards tend to be positively reinforced by families, schools, and society. With this in mind, this webinar will discuss ways to build rapport and engage this challenging population in treatment.
The goal of CBT with perfectionistic youth is to reduce reliance on “have tos” and rules, in favor of living a life guided by values and meaning. Dr. Siqueland will review cognitive interventions including weighing the costs and benefits of maintaining the status quo versus adopting more relaxed standards; exploring feared consequences of lowering standards; and examining reluctance to enjoy leisure time. She will also discuss how to use exposures to challenge beliefs associated with lowering standards and possible differences across the anxiety disorders. Importantly, she will outline how it can involve schools and family members in treatment.
At the end of this session, participants will be able to:
- Engage children and adolescents in motivation for treatment by understanding personal and societal pros and cons of perfectionism.
- Apply cognitive interventions, exposure exercises, and behavioral experiments to challenge beliefs about the value of perfectionistic standards with youth across a broad age-range.
- Identify the ways in which families and schools can become collaborators in addressing perfectionism
Presentation level: Intermediate/Advanced. Assume knowledge of basic CBT interventions for childhood anxiety disorders.