FORMAT:  3 hour workshop for 10 - 15 people


I developed this workshop on perfectionism for a team retreat for family practice residents. Medical professionals are at high risk of burnout and the toxic thought-patterns of perfectionism contribute to that problem.  Drawing on the wisdom that artists and writers have developed about strategies for managing perfectionism, I offered a framework to help learn healthier, more compassionate ways of thinking.  

In this powerful, interactive workshop, we use literature, self-reflection, dialogue, terrible drawings, and shared stories to identify how perfectionism operates to limit our possibilities, undermine our well-being, and squash our ability to find joy in learning and growth. Then, we practice three specific alternative mental habits that can keep perfectionism at bay.


  • What is the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving? 
  • How does perfectionism limit performance and enjoyment?  
  • What is the connection between perfectionism and burn out?
  • How to recognize when the perfectionism station is playing in your head.
  • Practice accessing three specific healthier alternatives to the perfectionism thought pattern and learn how to "change the station" from self-recrimination to self-compassion.


Dear Sara,
Thank you so much for the incredible half-day "Imperfection Option" workshop you created for our Family Medicine residents. Your humor and insight, along with left and right-brained activities, inspired us to craft a vision of a creative professional life that is sustainable and meaningful.
Through the use of literature, self-reflection, artistic creation and shared stories our young physicians developed new confidence and skill in maintaining compassion for themselves and their patients, recognizing what is healthy striving versus limiting perfectionism.
My residents reflected on how quickly you established a safe environment for us, a space in which to be vulnerable and honest about our limitations and fears - something physicians don't readily do with one another.
Your work has had a lasting impact on me, my residents and we have already begun to integrate the workshop concepts into our required curriculum for future classes. 
We cannot thank you enough for bringing your remarkable skill and creativity to the training of physicians.
Shannon U. Waterman, MD, Swedish Family Medicine, Seattle Washington