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Progress over Perfection

Wait…I’m not perfect?!?

When I started my experience with The Vine Wellness Group as a graduate student, I thought I had all the skills I needed to be a successful clinician. After one semester, it was time to for an evaluation with my supervisor; an evaluation that would change my life.

You see, prior to this evaluation, I had always leaned into being seen as a high achiever. Most evaluations I received up to this point were full of compliments and great scores. However, this evaluation pointed out a lot of “areas of growth”. I interpreted these as personal flaws, failures, or offenses. I defended why I should have gotten “exceeds expectations” and explained why “needs improvement” shouldn’t have applied.

Then, my supervisor taught me a lesson I will never forget. She said, “Stephen, you are not a finished product. You are a work-in-progress. You have a lot of strengths, but you will never grow if I only praise your strengths. This is a process evaluation and not a product evaluation.”

Evaluations can be tough. Whether they come from other people or internally, knowing the difference between a product evaluation and a process evaluation can be life-changing.

Imagine a toy being inspected. If the legs and arms were reversed, that toy would be a failure and would not be sold in stores. Sometimes people are stuck in this same product mindset; if they don’t succeed at a task, they are a failed or flawed product.

However, human beings are not products. We are all in a lifetime process of change. As clinicians at The Vine Wellness Group, it is our job to walk you through a process evaluation. We can help shift your perspective from “Am I perfect?” to “Am I making progress?”

If you find yourself struggling with feedback, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I internalizing this as an opportunity for growth or as a personal failure?

  • How can I make this feedback into manageable and achievable objectives?

  • If I gave this feedback to someone else, what would I want them to get out of it?

In other terms, fear of failure, or perfectionism, if left unchecked can lead to severe anxiety or depression, creating more difficulty to change your faulty thinking patterns. If you need additional help addressing these types of issues, call us!

Stephen Trotter, MA, LPC-Associate

Supervised by Annie Viers, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S


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