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Current Research on the Impact of Perfectionism and Acceptance-Based Therapy on Workers’ Mental Health

March 3, 2014 - 9:00am PST, 12:00pm EST
Recorded in March, 2014


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There is a large body of research showing that a certain form of perfectionism is associated with poorer mental health, higher stress reactivity, and behavioural ineffectiveness.

In this presentation, Dr. Flaxman summarises recent debates in the perfectionism literature, and discusses why these debates have important implications for understanding underlying vulnerabilities for psychological distress among working populations. The presentation also considers the potent role played by worry and rumination in employees’ mental health. Dr. Flaxman reports on research that has shown that some perfectionists continue to worry and ruminate about work during their leisure time (e.g., evenings, weekends, and vacations), leading to inadequate recovery from the demands of work, increased risk of burnout, and reduced well-being across the working week.

In the second part of his presentation, Dr. Flaxman reports on a series of intervention studies evaluating the use of more recent cognitive-behavioural therapy approaches in workplace settings. In particular, he describes the strong emergence of a mindfulness-based approach, known as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Paul and his collaborators have translated ACT into a brief psychological skills training programme suitable for delivery in the workplace. Dr. Flaxman’s research team and others have found this type of training to be consistently effective in improving employees’ psychological flexibility and mental health.

During the session you will learn:
  • To discuss psychological factors associated with perfectionism and their importance to worker mental health.
  • To describe key differences between a potentially more adaptive form of perfectionism (‘perfectionist strivings’) and the more maladaptive ‘evaluative concerns’ perfectionism.
  • To introduce research on a modern acceptance-based therapy that has been adapted for use in workplace settings to help improve employees’ psychological flexibility, personal resilience, and mental health.
Dr. Paul Flaxman has previously held research and teaching positions at London Guildhall University and Goldsmiths College (University of London). While at Goldsmiths, he helped to implement a series of work redesign interventions for improving staff well-being in financial services and local government organizations. Dr. Flaxman was also involved in two separate research projects designed to promote and develop the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards for work-related stress.

He is currently the Program Director of City University London's Master's Program in Organisational Psychology. Dr. Flaxman specializes in adapting cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) interventions to help improve employees' psychological health. Most notably, he has taken a prominent role (alongside Professor Frank Bond) in developing and evaluating acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as a worksite training intervention.

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Last Modified: 1/26/2018 3:58 PM