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Digital Recording

ACT for Anxiety-Driven Perfectionism: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Tools to Decrease Worry, Fear of Failure, and More

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Clarissa Ong, PhD
6 Hours 11 Minutes
Feb 26, 2024
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Digital Recording
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Helping anxious perfectionistic clients lower their standards feels impossible.

They cling to rigid rules and ideals, and therapy sessions can turn into exhausting reassurance-filled visits, yes-butting, and even arguing.

You need another option to reach these clients.

Whether you’re a seasoned Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) therapist or just getting started, now you can give your clients the tools they need to pivot from the quest for perfection toward a rich, meaningful, imperfect life.

Watch Dr. Clarissa Ong, ACT expert and lead author of The Anxious Perfectionist for this skills-packed training to build your clients’ psychological flexibility so they can focus on living their values rather than striving to reach unattainable standards. You’ll learn:

  • Effective ways to help clients cultivate the bravery they need to take risks
  • Top techniques for accepting challenging emotions that fuel avoidance
  • Values-based action plans to get clients centred on what’s really important

PURCHASE TODAY to free your clients from the tyranny of the shoulds!


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.


This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Clarissa Ong, PhD's Profile

Clarissa Ong, PhD Related seminars and products

Clarissa Ong, PhD, is an assistant professor and the psychology clinic director at the University of Toledo who trained at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. With clinical and research specialization in perfectionism, Dr. Ong has published 70 peer-reviewed articles and co-written two books: a transdiagnostic ACT manual, ACT in Steps, and a self-help book for perfectionism, The Anxious Perfectionist. She has received grant funding from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science and International OCD Foundation for randomized trials testing online self-help interventions for perfectionism.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Clarissa Ong has an employment relationship with the University of Toledo. She receives a grant from the International OCD Foundation. Clarissa Ong receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Clarissa Ong is a member of the Ohio Psychological Association, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

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  1. Identify perfectionistic behaviours and their function in clients with anxiety.
  2. Develop an ACT-consistent case conceptualization of anxiety-driven perfectionism.
  3. Evaluate cognitive defusion skills to decrease the impact of perfectionistic-driven self-criticism.
  4. Utilize at least one mindfulness practice to improve clients’ ability to tolerate worry.
  5. Choose interventions for a values-based action plan with clients struggling with perfectionism-driven anxiety.
  6. Identify a common barrier to treatment with anxious perfectionistic clients.


Psychological Flexibility as the Antidote to Perfectionism: Why ACT for Perfectionism?

  • The ACT model: psychological flexibility and its six core processes
  • Undermine rule-following and avoid intellectualizing
  • Common functions and characteristics of perfectionism
  • The hidden value in perfectionism
  • Transdiagnostic factor: associated mental health diagnoses
  • The latest research on ACT for perfectionism

Assessment and Case Conceptualization: The Hidden Costs of Striving for Flawlessness

  • Top assessment tools for anxiety – generalized, specific, social, and more
  • Four signs that your client might be struggling with perfectionism
  • How to talk with clients about perfectionism
  • Explore the impact of perfectionismdriven anxiety on functioning
  • How self-stories about control and success strain relationships and limit connection
  • Case conceptualization skills for clients with anxiety-driven perfectionism
  • Help clients find the strength to be vulnerable
  • Metaphors to illustrate the paradox of control
  • Case study

ACT Interventions for Anxiety-Driven Perfectionism: Constant Control or Creativity and Commitment

  • Help clients notice perfectionistic thoughts that accompany anxious feelings
  • And what else? Techniques to increase attentional flexibility
  • Experiential exercises to facilitate clients’ out-of-session mindful awareness
  • When negative self-talk arises – how to help clients let go
  • Top cognitive defusion skills to get space from fear of failure
  • Cultivate acceptance of shame, worry, and other challenging emotions
  • Expand clients’ views of themselves to see who they are outside of perfectionism
  • Self-compassion practices for when clients come up short
  • Creative hopelessness exercises to motivate clients to try something different
  • How to foster clients’ willingness to make mistakes
  • Top tips for taking steps even when anxiety is present
  • What makes life worthwhile? Help clients discern important life values
  • Create values-based action plans that challenge rumination and procrastination
  • Committed action despite anxiety and self-doubt
  • Case study

Clinical Considerations: Not Just Symptom Relief

  • Which clients are a good fit for ACT versus CBT?
  • Integration of ACT strategies into other treatments
  • Factors to determine length of treatment
  • Treatment consolidation and relapse prevention
  • Cultural considerations
  • Toolbox of experiential exercises
  • Troubleshooting top barriers to treatment
  • What to do when perfectionism is identified as a value
  • When the therapist is also perfectionistic
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks

Target Audience

  • Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Addiction Counsellors
  • Other Mental Health Professionals

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