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Therapy Chat

Welcome to Therapy Chat podcast! Whether you're a therapist or not, you'll be fascinated by the discussions on this podcast, which focuses on emotions and well being. Baltimore area clinical social worker Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, specializes in trauma related to family of origin issues and trauma. Laura interviews psychotherapists, authors and other experts about psychotherapy, mindfulness, trauma, worthiness, perfectionism, self compassion, attachment, parenting, self care and much more. Find more about Laura at . 


Apr 15, 2016

Welcome! My guest today is Sharon Martin, LCSW, a psychotherapist in San Jose, CA. Sharon writes the blog “Happily Imperfect” for Psych Central. Our topic today is Perfectionism—something so many of us struggle to overcome.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Sharon’s private practice focuses on perfectionism, co-dependency, people-pleasing, and anxiety—she tells us how they are all intertwined.
  • Sharon works as a clinical supervisor, both independently and for a non-profit; she enjoys working with new social workers.
  • In her 20+ years in this field, Sharon has had to learn to focus on self-care, knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”
  • “It can’t just be about making everybody else happy.”
  • Sharon says that some total failures can be re-labeled as “partial succeses.”
  • Change requires that you experience some amount of anxiety.
  • Co-dependency is a relationship dynamic where two people are dependent on each other in different ways. One takes on the role of caretaker, rescuer, or fixer in this lopsided relationship.
  • In co-dependency, anger and resentment build up over time and the relationship becomes out of control.
  • Perfectionism and co-dependency have some common characteristics, like not wanting to upset or displease and wanting to be “in control.”
  • Perfectionists have a strong need to be liked and accepted; they need constant validation that they are “enough.”
  • “There is no possible way to succeed at being perfect.”
  • Perfectionists tend to be very self-critical and critical of others.
  • Perfectionism is often mistaken for a quest for excellence and high standards.
  • Many high school students feel this pressure, which can lead to depression and suicide.
  • The solution lies in our ability to accept ourselves for who we are.
  • “My purpose is to be ME, and not be a clone of everyone else.”
  • In her therapy practice, Sharon uses the following techniques with her clients:
    • Get in touch and be more aware of the negative self-talk in their lives.
    • Reframe ideas about making mistakes.
    • Find out how to let ourselves off the hook and forgive ourselves.
    • Move past negative thoughts toward acceptance and positives.
    • Ask, “What’s good about me and my life?”
  • For perfectionists, there can be 99 positives, but a perfectionist focuses on the ONE negative thing.
  • Sharon shares gratitude practice tips and how to make them work for you!
  • The mindfulness approach can help us learn to enjoy the small things and the basic experiences in life.

Resources:  (Sharon is writing a workbook on Overcoming Perfectionism. She is offering a free sample chapter to download for TC listeners!)