How Perfectionism Can Affect Your Holidays

How Perfectionism Can Affect Your Holidays

Nina Rifkind, LCSW, ACS

Nina Rifkind

Member Since 2014

Nina Rifkind, LCSW, ACS, Owner, Wellspring Counseling, Denville, NJ. Nina Rifkind is a licensed clinical social worker, practicing in Morris County NJ for almost 20 years. She specializes in treating Anxiety Disorders and OCD, in people of all ages, particularly connecting with adolescents and young adults. Bringing the most current, evidenced based treatment to her clients is a priority. 

Nina and ADAA

"I originally joined ADAA and attended my first conferences in the mid 1990’s. I rededicated myself to the organization several years ago, when I went full time with my private practice. It was important for me to have a community that would facilitate professional growth and provide me with a network of expertise to draw on and contribute to.

ADAA has satisfied those expectations and done much more. What I’ve enjoyed most is the sense of comradery and partnership among members and the ADAA staff. When I participate in Special Interest Group meetings, I know I will be learning, whether I present a case or not. Others’ willingness to share their experience and knowledge as well as their most challenging clinical issues, is always validating and gives me the support I need, as an independent practitioner. The annual conferences are by far, the best place I’ve found for highly specialized trainings and a nice way to connect with everyone I meet on a virtual basis throughout the year.

Being an active member of ADAA, attending SIGs, conferences, and webinars has benefited my work in immeasurable ways. I have the confidence to take on some of the most challenging cases and help those who may not have many options for effective treatment. I’m proud to help promote evidence-based treatment and offer it with the expertise that ADAA has helped me build and sustain, with ongoing developments in research and clinical practice. I believe my involvement in ADAA, has in large part, led to referrals from some of the most well-respected residential programs around the country.

When I’m asked by colleagues how to effectively treat OCD or help kids and adolescents with debilitating anxiety, I encourage them to join ADAA and take advantage of access to the most current research, trainings and consultations. To me, participation is key, to gain and maintain the skills to be an effective, specialized clinician and the best possible resource for your patients.

I am currently a member of the OCD SIG and Professional Education Committee."

How Perfectionism Can Affect Your Holidays

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Holidays often come with the pressure to entertain and be a “perfect” host.  Being perfectionistic in the details of holiday planning, can ruin the fun for ourselves, as well as those around us.  While most people are happy to be around friends or family, enjoying good food, drinks and the sight of kids opening gifts, for certain people, the thought of something being out of place, someone not getting their favorite dish or the decorations falling short, can cause significant feelings of distress.  People who struggle with anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety or panic disorder, may be plagued by a fear of disappointing others, or feeling that their actions are being scrutinized and judged.   This type of anxiety can cause an onslaught of “what if” thinking.  What if my in-laws hate the food, what if the decorations fall apart, and on and on.  These worries, cause tension that can spread throughout the household, as someone rushes to ensure that none of their “what if” thoughts happen.  These individuals truly suffer, as the anxiety can put them in a fight or flight state, causing physiological changes, like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or nausea.  Often those around them are unaware of what’s happening inside their bodies, as all they see and hear is the flurry of worry and activity.

Similarly, for those who suffer from a specific category of OCD, known as perfectionism OCD, the thought that anything they do may turn out to be less than perfect, can cause significant distress, whether it be cooking a particular recipe, setting up holiday lights, or seating family around the table in the “perfect” arrangement.  Someone with the clinical diagnosis of OCD, may avoid doing these things for fear of not doing them perfectly.  Since any of us can have a streak of perfectionism, without having OCD, anyone may be affected by a lesser level of this type of stress.  We may all be susceptible to a bit of perfectionism around the holidays, when media portrays so many images of the perfect holiday scene, from family, to food, to decorations and gift wrapping.  It’s easy to see how anyone can get caught in the trap of striving for perfection.  What’s critical during this time of year, is reminding ourselves that if doing less, brings more enjoyment for family and friends, as well as ourselves, than a good time should be the goal, rather than a perfect one, whatever that may mean.

Anyone struggling with perfectionism on a regular basis, causing significant distress, and interfering with daily life, should seek the help of a professional, ideally, a therapist specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to build skills for tolerating uncertainty, as well life outcomes that are less than perfect.

Nina Rifkind, LCSW, ACS

Nina Rifkind

Member Since 2014

Nina Rifkind, LCSW, ACS, Owner, Wellspring Counseling, Denville, NJ. Nina Rifkind is a licensed clinical social worker, practicing in Morris County NJ for almost 20 years. She specializes in treating Anxiety Disorders and OCD, in people of all ages, particularly connecting with adolescents and young adults. Bringing the most current, evidenced based treatment to her clients is a priority. 

Nina and ADAA

"I originally joined ADAA and attended my first conferences in the mid 1990’s. I rededicated myself to the organization several years ago, when I went full time with my private practice. It was important for me to have a community that would facilitate professional growth and provide me with a network of expertise to draw on and contribute to.

ADAA has satisfied those expectations and done much more. What I’ve enjoyed most is the sense of comradery and partnership among members and the ADAA staff. When I participate in Special Interest Group meetings, I know I will be learning, whether I present a case or not. Others’ willingness to share their experience and knowledge as well as their most challenging clinical issues, is always validating and gives me the support I need, as an independent practitioner. The annual conferences are by far, the best place I’ve found for highly specialized trainings and a nice way to connect with everyone I meet on a virtual basis throughout the year.

Being an active member of ADAA, attending SIGs, conferences, and webinars has benefited my work in immeasurable ways. I have the confidence to take on some of the most challenging cases and help those who may not have many options for effective treatment. I’m proud to help promote evidence-based treatment and offer it with the expertise that ADAA has helped me build and sustain, with ongoing developments in research and clinical practice. I believe my involvement in ADAA, has in large part, led to referrals from some of the most well-respected residential programs around the country.

When I’m asked by colleagues how to effectively treat OCD or help kids and adolescents with debilitating anxiety, I encourage them to join ADAA and take advantage of access to the most current research, trainings and consultations. To me, participation is key, to gain and maintain the skills to be an effective, specialized clinician and the best possible resource for your patients.

I am currently a member of the OCD SIG and Professional Education Committee."

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