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If you have OCD or are perfectionistic, you build a box around your anxiety and worry. You try to contain and suppress those feelings so you won't feel out of control and overwhelmed. The box has rigid sides in the form of impossibly high standards, specific rules that must be followed, and even specific actions or rituals you feel compelled to perform in order to feel better for a little while. Adding insult to injury, if you "break a rule" or fall short of your unattainable standard, you feel guilty or ashamed--and try to contain those feelings by further reinforcing the sides of the box (greater perfectionism, more rigid rules). Socially, you might feel also feel ashamed of the effect that your worry, rules, and routines have on others. On the other hand, you might spend lots of energy keeping it all a secret. So, you may end up feeling very isolated even when you are around people. If this is a cycle you are caught up in, you don't have to deal with it all alone. I can help you to identify your worries more precisely and resolve them, rather than just contain or suppress them. That process involves learning how to get a fuller perspective on what's worrying you, and also involves some experimentation on your part in the form of "risking" giving up a little bit of control in order to feel substantially higher self-esteem, improved productivity, and more flow in your daily life.


Perfectionism and "all-or-nothing" thinking can rob the enjoyment from many areas of life, and they can also have a negative impact on your productivity. Does this scenario sound familiar? You have a presentation or project, and 95% of it goes brilliantly, but you are fixated on the 5% that was "wrong" and made the whole thing a failure. Therapy can help you to embrace the gray zone in between perfection and failure - the flawed and beautiful place where real living can happen. I find that most perfectionists struggle with a deep belief that they are unworthy, and perfectionism becomes a way to feel "good enough." If you are ready (or want help becoming ready) to let go of the battle with yourself over unattainable standards, then I may be a good fit for you.


Obsessive compulsive disorder is a particularly locked-in form of anxiety that provides its own 'as-if' solution in the form of superstitious rituals that help a person pretend they could actually have control over a crazy, dangerous, uncontrollable world. If you think about it, it's pretty understandable: it's a very human desire to have simple rituals or thoughts that--if we just repeat them enough--would do away with the fear deep inside of us. But it's an addiction to a false god of relief. And breaking it is extremely difficult, taking tremendous will and discipline. Are you ready?


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Elizabeth Nelson, Ph.D.

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Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
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The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence