The Expert Bookshelf:  Books on Perfectionism

The Expert Bookshelf: Books on Perfectionism

Have you ever wondered what books the top people in our field are reading? In this series we ask some of our favorite authors and psychology heroes to share their top picks with us.

In addition to helping clients who struggle with perfectionism, many of us therapists deal with it ourselves. Today, Sharon Martin, LCSW who wrote The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism, shares with us her top recommendations for people who are carrying this burden. Whether this is something you deal with personally or professionally, be sure to check out her favorites.

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Overcoming Perfectionism by Ann Smith

Smith’s book offers a solid foundation for understanding the roots of perfectionism in the dysfunctional family system and identifying both overt and covert perfectionism. Smith’s relatable style provides plenty of insights for those trying to understand why and how perfectionism is holding them back. FIND IT HERE

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff

While Neff’s book isn’t specifically about perfectionism, self-compassion is an essential tool for learning to quiet your inner-critic, accept your mistakes and struggles, and love yourself. This book includes Neff’s personal experiences and powerful research about self-compassion, as well as practical ways to include it in your life. FIND IT HERE.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Through her engaging stories, personal experiences, and research, Brown provides us with ten guideposts for authentic living, including cultivating self-compassion, intuition, and calm. These guideposts create a tangible map for rebuilding our self-esteem and feeling worthy. FIND IT HERE.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

In this book, Niequist shares her personal journey, as a Christian woman and mother, to simplify and slow down, find self-acceptance, and enjoy life just as it is. FIND IT HERE.

Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz.

This book explores why humans assume they’re right about everything and why we have such a hard time recognizing when we’re wrong. And not surprisingly, our inability to see our mistakes affects all aspects of our lives. This book is an interesting mix of psychology, philosophy, and research. The author also has an interesting TED Talk on the same topic. FIND IT HERE.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.

Based on Brown’s extensive research on vulnerability and shame, Daring Greatly is about finding the courage to be vulnerable – to share our mistakes and struggles. Brown explains how we use perfectionism to shield ourselves from vulnerability, criticism, rejection, and pain — and that we can only achieve authenticity and deep connections when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. FIND IT HERE.

Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics by Robert Ackerman

This book addresses the challenges of codependency, perfectionism, people-pleasing, and self-criticism that frequently plague women who grew up in alcoholic or addicted families. It also contains personal accounts of recovery from dozens of “perfect daughters” and helpful chapters about healthy relationships and parenting. FIND IT HERE.

The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism by Sharon Martin

In addition to a thorough overview of perfectionism – what it is, why we’re plagued by it, and how it affects our physical and emotional health – this workbook provides practical exercises to help you change your perfectionist thoughts, stop people-pleasing, and untangle your self-worth from your achievements. FIND IT HERE.


Sharon Martin, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Jose, CA and the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism. She specializes in helping men and women overcome codependency, perfectionism, and self-criticism so they can embrace their authentic selves and build happy, healthy relationships. In addition to her clinical work, Sharon writes the popular blog Happily Imperfect for and teaches online blogging classes for therapists.

Le Shepard

Le Shepard, LPC earned her MA in Counseling Psychology from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX. She sees clients face to face at Wise County Christian Counseling and works with individuals or couples through her online-only private practice. 1000 Hills Counseling & Consulting. Le loves to read, adventure, and play with her corgi or kids.

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