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What is imposter syndrome?

According to Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome is “loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.” People who suffer from imposter syndrome question whether they merit the success they have had throughout their careers.

Imposter syndrome symptoms include self-doubt, low self-esteem, self-sabotage, and fear of failure. These feelings can have a significant impact on the individual’s mental health. A study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling found that individuals with imposter syndrome were significantly associated with burnout indices.

Although imposter syndrome is prevalent in young professionals, it is crucial to note that it is present in individuals of all ages and professions, as found by a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

A research published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that up to 82% of people can face the effects from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can cause feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and ultimately career burnout. According to research by the Frontiers of Psychology, imposter syndrome showed negative results relevant to career development. The study showed that imposter syndrome had the most negative effects on career planning in students and the motivation to lead in a professional work environment.

It is essential to protect yourself from the psychological effects of imposter syndrome and to acknowledge and recognize its existence. Seeking support from sources such as mental health professionals, colleagues, and mentors can be effective in combating imposter syndrome. Building confidence and focusing on personal growth rather than validating external experiences can also help combat the feelings of being inadequate.

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How Psychotherapy can Reverse the Effects on Imposter Syndrome?

C​​ognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a common type of psychotherapy, is an effective way to reverse the effects of imposter syndrome. CBT has also been found effective in treating the effects of depression and anxiety disorders.

The core idea of CBT is to refine the framework your mind has adopted. The basis of CBT is to reform the cognitive frameworks adopted by your mind. As these frameworks become more negative over time, thoughts become more biased and can lead to a spiraling hole of flawed thinking. This affects mood, self-esteem, and how you live your life in general as it casts a shadow over anything you do. A psychotherapist using CBT reforms the ideas and frameworks you have adopted. They do this by inducing the idea of re-evaluating negative thoughts and bias. The idea is that when a negative thought occurs, find evidence that contradicts the thought. Consequently, the emotional discomfort associated with the negative thoughts (e.g., stress and anxiety) will fade away.

What we recommend to youth and young professional?

Imposter syndrome is a prevalent phenomenon in young professionals that can have a significant impact on their mental health and career success. To prevent the consequences of imposter syndrome, it is essential to recognize and acknowledge the existence of imposter syndrome in an individual and seek support to overcome its negative effects.

If you are in doubt or you are not certain about whether you are struggling with imposter syndrome or not, you can connect with one of our psychotherapists in Toronto. To make an appointment with a therapist at our downtown Toronto locations, check our this link.