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Wasatch Family Therapy Newsletter
RelationTIPS from Wasatch Family Therapy
September 2009
In this issue
Calling All Perfectionists
What's Your Emotional Style?
Toss Your "To Do" List
Children's Divorce Adjustment Class
Group Therapy
by Todd W. Dunn, Ph.D.
 Todd Dunn
WFT is pleased to welcome Dr. Dunn as the newest member of our clinical team! He holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas Medical School. To learn more about Dr. Dunn's specialties visit our website.
Children are great teachers.  This past week, I was helping my 3 year-old son "go potty" after a long day at work.  When I noticed he had accidentally used the bathroom in his underwear, I must have looked as exasperated as I felt, because he looked up at me and said, "Its ok...its ok Daddy."  Hearing him say that melted my heart and got me thinking about how we often forget that, yes, it is ok to make mistakes. 
In life, we frequently feel the need to excel in all our different roles, as parent, grandparent, spouse, sibling, employee, employer, neighbor, friend, etc.  As a result, our many responsibilities can begin to feel burdensome and near impossible.  As summer winds down and we get back into the routine of the school year, I thought it would be helpful to explain: 1) why we sometimes feel perfectionistic and 2) how we can learn to better enjoy our imperfect, but extraordinary lives. 

What Is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence.  People who pursue excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in working to meet high standards.  Perfectionists aspire to be top achievers by not allowing themselves to make even a single mistake.  Perfectionists are always on the alert for imperfections and weaknesses in themselves and others.  The high achiever has drive, while the perfectionist is driven. 

Causes and Characteristics of Perfectionism
Fear of failure and rejection.  Perfectionists are motivated by self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection if they are not always perfect.  As a result, they often become paralyzed and unable to perform at all.
Low self-esteem.  Perfectionists' often feel the need to earn other's approval and acceptance through their actions.  This need for approval interferes with their ability to see the needs of others, making it difficult to form healthy relationships.
Black-and-white thinking.  Perfectionists see most experiences as either good or bad, perfect or imperfect. There is nothing in between. The perfectionist believes that the flawless product or superb performance must be produced every time. Perfectionists believe if it can't be done perfectly, it's not worth doing.
Excessive determination.  Perfectionists focus only on the result of their efforts. They are unable to enjoy the process of producing the achievement. Once more, when they achieve success, perfectionists often feel unsatisfied and compelled to move onto the next project.  This relentless pursuit of the goal becomes their downfall because it often results in overwhelming anxiety, burnout, and cynicism, and depression. 

How to Reduce Perfectionism and Enjoy Life More
1. Make a List of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Perfect
You may find that perfection is too costly. Perhaps you will discover that relationship problems, endless working, and other compulsive behaviors (eating disorders and substance abuse problems) are too high a price for the results you gain from your perfectionist way of being.
2. Identify Alternative Thoughts and Behaviors
Make a list of specific perfectionist thoughts and behaviors that you want to change. For each one, think of something specific you can think or do instead. Observe your feelings and thoughts as you try new things. 
For example:
       Perfectionist behavior: I expect my teenage daughter to pick up the clothes off her floor and make her bed every day.
       Alternative behavior: I can expect my daughter to clean her room every Saturday and I will close her door every other day.
3. Review Your Goals and Make Sure They Are Realistic
By having achievable, realistic goals, you will gradually see that less-than-perfect results are not as disastrous as you thought they would be.
4. Set Strict Time Limits for Your Projects
When the time is up, move on to another task or take a break.
5. Make Friends with Criticism
Many perfectionists take criticism personally and respond defensively. If someone criticizes you when you make a mistake, the easiest thing to do is to simply admit it.
6. Reframe Mistakes as Opportunities for Growth and Learning
The people who never make mistakes are no longer learning or growing.  When you let go of the fantasy that humans must be perfect to have value in this world, you are less likely to feel angry or embarrassed when you make a mistake. You will see that your mistakes in fact add richness and depth to your life, a refreshing deviation from the rigidity and staleness of perfectionism. 
7.  Get Help  
Ask a trusted friend or therapist for help in identifying areas of improvement or next steps for change.  What do others think about your goals and expectations?  Also, it may surprise you that by opening up and admitting you have faults, your relationships in fact improve rather than deteriorate.  
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Dunn today! Email to set up an initial appointment or call (801) 944-4555.
By Julie Hanks, LCSW, Clinical Director
Julie Hanks LCSW
Have you ever noticed that you find yourself repeating relationship patterns, even if you don't particularly like them? Do you find that you tend to feel similar emotions in your close relationships time and time again? We all have a unique style of relating to others that has its roots in our earliest relationship patterns. In our first few years of life our emotional world revolves around our family and parents (or caregivers). While these patterns aren't set in stone they provide a default pattern for our emotional life and our relationships throughout life. It can be helpful for you to understand your relationship style so you can modify it when it causes distress or it no longer works for you. Identifying your style doesn't mean that you are blaming your parents for the way you are. It can be helpful to understand your early relationships and how they impact your current emotions and relationship patterns so you can choose to make changes. 
To find out more about your emotional style click HERE.
TOSS YOUR "TO DO" LIST - Studio 5 TV Segment
By Julie Hanks, LCSW, Clinical Director
There's nothing wrong with keeping a "To Do" list. Writing down errands, chores, and other things that you'd like to accomplish on a list can be a helpful tool, especially in remembering the details. The trouble with "To Do" lists is not that we use them, but how we use them. In my practice and in my women's workshops I often hear individuals complain of feeling "not good enough" or thinking "I can't seem to get anything done" and use their never-ending "To Do" lists as evidence for their negative self-evaluations. "To Do" lists usually contain things that you may not remember to do, and rarely encompass all of the things that you always remember and automatically take care of each day. Taking an occasional break from your "To Do" list can help you to relax and gain perspective. Practice acknowledging all of your important contributions that never actually make to a "To Do" list. 
Read more about TOSSING YOUR "TO DO" LIST here.
WHAT'S A DIVORCE? Children's Divorce Adjustment Class (ages 5-9) 
Presented by Sara Bannon, CSW

This 6 week class is designed to minimize the negative impact of divorce on children and to help them gain the skills needed to adjust to their parent's divorce. Topics will include:
         Dealing with Loss and Transition
         Learning to Express Feelings
         Healthy Coping Skills
         Strengthening Relationships
Class begins Thursday, September 17th
Time: 4:30-5:20 PM
Fee:   $210.00 for 6 weeks
Email today to register your child!
Women's Therapy Group - Wednesdays 5:30-7:00pm
On-going weekly therapy group for women 18-30. Depression, healthy
relationships, family issues, body image.
Sexual Abuse Survivor's Group - Thursdays 7:00 - 8:30pm
On-going weekly therapy group for women healing from childhood
sexual and other forms of abuse.
Kids & Anxiety Group - Fridays 3:30-5:00pm
Bi-monthly play therapy group to help children ages 8-11. This group will help your child gain skills to manage anxiety and strengthen social skills.
Starting soon: Men's Group, Teens Groups, Children's Divorce Class!
To join a group please Email or call (801) 944-4555. 
$50 THERAPY SESSIONS!  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Amber Dunford
Jonathan Harrop has joined Wasatch Family Therapy as a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, supervised by Clair Mellenthin, LCSW. Jonathan is offering professional counseling services at a significant discount!
50 minute sessions for $50.00.
Evening appointments available. Click here to schedule YOUR appointmet or call 801-944-4555. 
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