Imposter Syndrome

Signs that you might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome

You often feel you have to over prepare and work extra hours which leads to less work – life balance. In addition, you may have thoughts along the lines that you are not good enough, that others are more qualified than you are, and you are going to be found out as a fraud. Having a positive experience often does not stop you from feeling like an imposter, as you attribute your success to coincidence or luck, and don’t take any credit for it.

Joan Harvey and Cynthia Katz (1985) defined the three main characteristics of the Imposter syndrome:
1. Believing that one has fooled others into overestimating one’s own abilities.
2. Attributing personal success to factors other than one’s ability or intelligence, such as luck, extra work, charisma, or evaluator’s misjudgment.
3. Fearing exposure as an imposter.

On review of the literature, there are mixed results from various studies on gender differences within the imposter syndrome phenomenon. Early studies indicated that it as a problem among high-achieving women, however, recent research showed that men experience Imposter syndrome at a similar rate and that gender is not a contributing factor.

Rather gender being a contributing factor, according to research (Clance and Imes), who first defined imposter syndrome over 30 years ago, we now know that it is most likely to occur in people for whom success came quickly, individuals with high achieving parents, first-generation professionals, students and members of minority groups.


Imposter Syndrome is not classified as a mental health condition, but it can often lead to anxiety and/or depression, burnout, and suicidal ideation.

In order to combat imposter syndrome you will have to look at your core beliefs you are holding about yourself. Those core beliefs are developed during your formative years and are influenced by your environment. As a result, we tend to find it difficult to recognise those beliefs, as we think they are normal and everyone holds the same belief. Often those beliefs are around thoughts such as “I must be perfect all the time for others to approve of me”, “If I don’t exceed expectations I won’t be loved” or “I am not good enough the way I am”.

During therapy, your therapist will help you identify your core beliefs and unhelpful thinking patterns and help you to challenge and change them.

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