Guiding the Gifted

Article by Shulamit Widawsky, ©2003

Why Counseling for the Gifted?

Traditionally, the gifted members of a tribe were taken under the wings of the elders, and nurtured in ways that satisfied, supported, and promoted their gifts so that they grew up to be considered integral and cherished members of their society.

 Contemporary society is inclined to reverse this process, imagining that the gifted are capable of finding their own way, and then ostracizing them for being different or rocking the boat.

 American society ostensibly supports creative initiative and lauds independent thought. This myth generally neglects to mention that American society also tends to torment creativity and independence wherever it may surface—until it proves itself. Only after proof of success, does our society show acceptance. And even then, it often places the survivor on an unrealistic and unsupported pedestal.

 Gifted children and adults can benefit from the opportunity to explore their “differences” as they are: to discern the gifts those differences may bear, to accept the difficulties associated with them, and to learn to navigate a society that may well never fully understand them.

 It may be expected that some gifted people are so unique they will never find general populations who experience life as they do. From an early age, gifted people are likely to experience this isolation, and be confused and frustrated by it. Without a truly supportive parent or other understanding mentor, the gifted are likely to experience depression, anxiety, disillusionment, shutdown or avoidance.  However, with understanding and guidance, such unique souls can learn to appreciate themselves, appreciate those who are different from them, and learn to successfully navigate the world as it is.

 Support for the gifted, as individuals and in groups, allows the opportunity to experience the comfort of being accepted: neither denigrated, nor venerated for their gifts. Too often, people with intellectual, creative, physical, spiritual, or emotional gifts are misunderstood, disparaged or neglected. All people benefit from emotional support and guidance. The more exceptional an individual is, the less likely she or he has satisfactorily experienced either. Working with a professional experienced in the exceptional needs of the gifted can help to provide both.

 In families where the parents are also gifted, they may have been derided and neglected in their families of origin, and come into parenthood frustrated and ill equipped to support their children, though they want to. Guidance in the form of consultation, counseling, or therapy for gifted individuals, families, and groups can address these issues.

 Exceptional children are not the only ones who benefit from counseling. Any gifted adult who is struggling in their life may benefit from counseling that addresses their specific issues.

 Family, school, work, social and community environments each pose their own challenges to the gifted individual and the gifted couple or family.  Knowledgeable guidance can provide the comfort and direction needed to best understand and appreciate one's personal pattern of abilities and limitations, and play to the strengths. It can also help a person learn to appreciate, nurture and support others across their unique pattern of gifts and adversity.


Shulamit Widawsky
Guiding the Gifted

Annandale, VA


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This page was last updated on 05/15/13.

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The Online Gifted Assessment Tools (OGAT), is not a scientific way to identify giftedness. However, this does not preclude the possibility that the results could suggest some level of giftedness in the areas touched on by the instrument's questions. You are welcome to use the OGAT for your own curiosity. Please do consider "submitting" your results to be added to the research base. If enough subjects submit enough well-considered answers, we may someday be able to call a future version of the OGAT "scientifically valid."

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