Impostor Syndrome: Do you feel like you’re faking it?

Impostor Syndrome: Do you feel like you’re faking it? Flickr: Emergency Brake.

Impostor syndrome – the sense that you’ve got where you are by luck, not skill – has cropped up over and over again in our contributions. So we decided to talk to psychotherapist Dr Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, ABPP, who’s written reams on the topic (including this rather famous book), to find out a bit more about it.

Dr Pauline Rose Clance, and expert on Imposter Syndrome

The Impostor Experience (that sense of truly competent people that others will discover how much they don’t know) interferes with women’s ambitions for success. High impostor feelings create doubt, anxiety, worry, and dread, contributing to thoughts that one cannot continue to succeed, or making success seem to cost too much. For example, in Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg discussed her Impostor Experiences.

As a major researcher in this area, I am concerned that in the popular press there are not many recommendations that good psychotherapy can be a powerful tool in changing high impostor feelings.  I have seen that psychotherapy can really shift the consequences of this impediment to ambition and success. I also think we need to consider that women who are seen as ambitious are often criticised in the press and by colleagues for being too ambitious – as if that is a bad quality to have!

If you are interested in learning more about the Impostor Experience, I recommend two recent books by Joyce Roche and Valerie Young. I think it is important that we stand together in supporting each other in our ambitions – I also hope that we will support each other to use our power to help better the lives of women who have not had as many opportunities as we have. 

To find out if you’re suffering from impostor feelings, hop over to Dr. Clance’s very own website to take her free test

And what does Dr. Clance see when she looks in the mirror? ‘A professor’.


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