The impact of a universal intervention targeting perfectionism in children: An exploratory controlled trial

Eva J. Vekas, Tracey D. Wade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Perfectionism is considered to be an underlying mechanism of relevance to a broad array of indicators of psychological distress. The current research examined the impact of a three-session intervention targeting perfectionism in children on perfectionism, self-criticism, and well-being. Design: The design of the current study can be considered quasi-experimental as the intervention and control classes were not randomly allocated but decided by convenience factors at the school level. Methods: Students (aged 10.08–12.79 years) were allocated to the intervention (N = 107, 41 boys) or control condition (N = 105, 33 boys), completing self-report assessments on perfectionism, self-criticism, and well-being at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up. Results: At post-intervention, children in the intervention group had significantly lower perfectionism than the control group (d = 0.35, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.07–0.62) and at 3-month follow-up had significantly higher levels of well-being (d = 0.33, 95% CI: 0.06–0.60). As predicted by theory, decreases in perfectionism mediated the relationship between condition and improved well-being. Conclusions: This exploratory study provides evidence for the usefulness of a brief universal prevention programme targeting perfectionism. Future research should use more robust designs, explore longer-term effects, and the impact on a wider range of variables, including scholastic achievement. Practitioner points: Clinical implications. Perfectionism linked with negative outcomes in children can be decreased in a classroom setting. Decreasing perfectionism leads to improved well-being in children. Limitations. More rigorous designs along with better assessment of perfectionism are required in further evaluations. The impact of perfectionism on scholastic achievement in children requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-473
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • children
  • perfectionism
  • prevention
  • self-criticism
  • universal
  • well-being


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