Emergent themes in the writing of perfectionists: A qualitative study

Robert S. Merrell, David J. Hannah, Amy C. van Arsdale, Matthew P. Buman, Kenneth G. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


As an initial step toward uncovering the therapeutic potential of expressive writing for treating perfectionism, the current study utilized an emotional writing prompt to penetrate the inner world of 14 maladaptive perfectionists. The major question driving the inquiry was whether informative themes would emerge when perfectionists were prompted to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings. Procedures derived from Consensual Qualitative Research were used to analyze the written text. Results revealed domains labeled Stress, Relationships, Coping, Expectations, Perfectionism, and Academic/Professional Goals. These domains and their respective categories, along with the use of expressive writing, could enrich clinical interventions in treatment studies of perfectionists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-524
Number of pages15
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Expressive writing
  • Perfectionism
  • Qualitative research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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