Tips for Selecting the Right Counselor For Your FORM OF ADULT Giftedness.

When should one seek counseling? Is it worth it? How do I find a counselor? Such questions are often are asked by gifted adults as their intellectual prowess begins to beckon. Here are some helpful hints.

Regrettably, it likely will be difficult to find a counselor who is knowledgeable about the many complexities of our Gifted Adults. Few psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers or counselors have received training in the social and emotional needs of gifted adults. They, like many others, often believe that giftedness is only an asset and that high ability seldom is associated with the problems of newly emerging gifted adults.

So how do you find a counselor? I would suggest that you shop around. Ask other gifted adults for their recommendations or if they know counselors who have been helpful to them. There are two kinds of gifted adult, those with acknowledgement and support and those yet undiscovered and/or recently discovered.

If you can find a well-trained counselor who is open to learning about gifted adults, that usually is sufficient to find direction. Ask the counselor about his or her experience and background with gifted adults. Then, ascertain if the counselor is open to learning about this area by consulting with colleagues regarding gifted adults.

Once you find a professional, enter counseling on a trial basis to see if the counselor’s approach and style fit the needs of a gifted adult which vary greatly. Sometimes a very competent counselor may have a personal style that simply doesn’t fit with your adult giftedness. If you are uncomfortable with the initial findings and recommendations, consider getting a second opinion. Second opinions have been accepted for a long time within our gifted communities. Perhaps you can talk to the professional ahead of time to get suggestions for your particular situation. Remember, it is not uncommon that counselors have limited experience with gifted adults. This is to be expected as we are only 2% of the population!

What can you expect?  Probably the counselor will want new gifted adults to fill out questionnaires or brief psychological tests to help get an understanding of the level of your particular adult giftedness. The counselor may want to do formal testing of intellect, achievement and emotional functioning. All of this will take time. The testing alone may take three or four hours and probably divided into two or three sessions. This is good. You want thoughtful suggestions and advice based on a thorough assessment, not a casual or sloppy approach. Try to be patient but ask the counselor questions. Do your research!

When the assessment is finished, you should expect to have a meeting of at least an hour with the counselor. If there is a significant diagnosis, ask how it was arrived at. Make sure, ahead of this appointment, that the professional was made aware of articles that consider gifted behaviors and/or the very real and quit common problem of mis-diagnosed of gifted adults. For example, as suffering Asperger’s Disorder or others, with their intense moods, may be misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar Disorder.

Be aware of Medications! Try to insure that the medication is not being prescribed to treat characteristics of giftedness! All too many highly gifted adults have been mis-diagnosed and placed on medication, when what really was needed was more understanding, appropriate behavioral approaches or an advanced look into the use intellectual utilization as a defense mechanisms.  

Finally, believe in yourself. Professionals are “hired help.” Seeking counseling or therapy is not easy, particularly when you are an newly discovered or unrecognized gifted adult.

Author: Richard Brees

Note: Gifted Awareness, Inc. does not recommend any particular counseling service. The following is only listed as a reference point.