Counseling the Gifted and Talented
"There is no off position on the genius switch."
- David Letterman
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. "
- attributed to Albert Einstein
"People think genius is fine thing if it enables a man to write an exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, that of originality in thought and action, though no one says that it is not a thing to be admired, nearly all, at heart, think they can do very well without it."
- J.S. Mill
"It is never too late to be what you might have been."
- George Eliot
"It isn't easy being green."
- Kermit the Frog
Understanding the counseling needs of gifted people is important. Being gifted and talented is about more than grades and high IQ. It affects emotions, sensations, energy level, concentration, and imagination as well as other attributes. Most importantly, giftedness does not disappear with childhood. Gifted and talented children grow up to be gifted and talented adults, and sometimes, they need psychotherapy.
Giftedness and Counseling
Why does understanding giftedness matter in psychotherapy? Giftedness can lead to difficulties at work and in relationships. Very few therapists understand or even consider giftedness as an important factor in working with people. It is not a topic that is taught in graduate school.
I have experience working with gifted people and have trained other clinicians to recognize the unique needs of the gifted. Finding a therapist who understands the differences between giftedness and psychopathology can mean the difference between having a successful therapy experience in which you feel better about your life and circumstances versus one that leaves you feeling frustrated and misunderstood. I also know from personal experience what a difference this knowledge can make.
Think of the gifted brain as an engine. Its horsepower is not just limited to intellect. The brain with more horsepower runs faster and more intensely in other areas as well. These intensities occur in five main areas--psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional and can mimic some diagnoses.
Beliefs and Misconceptions about Being Gifted and Talented
Giftedness is just about intelligence or IQ.
No, there is more. The gifted share personality traits like perfectionism, intensity, sensitivity, idealism and introversion.
It does not. Gifted people may not realize their gifts or may not care about societal definitions of success.
The gifted do not need any special support.
They might. Gifted people often feel misunderstood. Depression and other issues become concerns.
Being female and gifted presents no unique challenges.
It might. Giftedness among girls tends to go underground especially during the middle school years. Girls may choose social acceptance over developing their gifts.
Being gifted and a minority presents no unique challenges.
It might. There is more to overcome when you are not from the dominant culture. This can interfere with the identification and expression of giftedness, and may limit your access to resources.
Children are the only ones that are gifted.
Giftedness does not disappear with childhood. It doesn't go away, but it can go underground.
Intelligence overcomes all obstacles.
If this were true, the gifted would be well represented in visible positions of leadership and acclaim. This is not the case.
You can identify a gifted person by how well they do in school and in work.
Not necessarily and for some, the opposite might be true if they get bored and tune out.
If a person knows they are gifted, they will have "a big head".
Actually lots of gifted people minimize their gifts or feel self-conscious about them. Some gifted people might not know they are gifted but feel different from others. Or they may compare themselves to someone else who they think is smarter, and use that as proof that they are not smart. Giftedness looks different from person to person.