How to Find a Psychotherapist Who Loves Your Rainforest Mind

photo from Morgan Sessions, Unsplash, CC
photo from Morgan Sessions, Unsplash, CC

How do you find a psychotherapist who isn’t overwhelmed by your fast talking, fast thinking, complex emotions, difficult questions and multiple sensitivities?

How do you find a psychotherapist who isn’t frightened by your uncanny ability to notice when s/he’s distracted or slightly out of whack?

How do you you find a psychotherapist who isn’t fooled by your articulate insight, your wit and your idealism; a psychotherapist who sees beneath the surface to the deep pain and shame that suffocates you?

How do you find a psychotherapist who knows the difference between giftedness and ADHD, OCD, and bipolar disorder?

How do you find a psychotherapist who can understand your long, complicated, nonlinear, out-of-the-box explanations and experiences?

How do you find a psychotherapist who is energized and not drained by your intensity and who gets your sense of humor?

How do you find a psychotherapist who’s also been a client and who knows the importance of his or her own continued self-examination?

Here’s how:

  1. Be willing to “shop around” for a while until your intuition says “yes” unequivocally.
  2. Look for a psychotherapist who also has a rainforest mind.
  3. Bring this blog post and other relevant posts and articles on giftedness to a first meeting. See how the person responds to your request that s/he read up on the topic.
  4. Check out this list of professionals around the world who specialize in giftedness, from Lisa Conrad’s blog. And this list from Noks Nauta. Here’s a comprehensive database from Davidson Institute.
  5. Know that you might need to see professionals in different modalities for a more comprehensive approach. (bodyworkers, acupuncturists, energy healers, doctors, naturopaths, herbalists, astrologers, etc.)
  6. Look for people who are trained in depth psychology (psychodynamic, internal family systems, somatic experiencing, object relations, Jungian, EMDR, and others) and who feel that it’s important to look at your family of origin as part of the healing process.
  7. Ask the therapist about his/her own personal counseling process and how s/he manages stress and self-care.

Know that your therapist will not be perfect. S/he will occasionally get overwhelmed and out of whack. Get lost in your long, complicated, nonlinear, out-of-the-box explanations and experiences. But, if you’re with the right person, s/he will own up to it. Admit the mistakes. And, still, won’t stop loving you and your fabulous rainforest mind.


To my blogEEs: What suggestions do you have on how to find a good therapist? What questions do you have? I love hearing from you. Your comments benefit our whole community!

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

55 responses to “How to Find a Psychotherapist Who Loves Your Rainforest Mind”

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  1. Krister Horn Avatar
    Krister Horn

    Hi Paula,
    My complements for this informative and funny site.
    I enjoyed it very much. 1 remark, I blocked on the shortcut to ‘Noks Naut’. This should be ‘Noks Nauta’.
    And the ‘interview of one hour’ took only 42 minutes…. 🙂
    I hope you’re not offended. I think it’s better to optimize than to keep people to stumbel over and over.
    Krister Horn, Dutch Mensan who’s interested in Psychotherapy and in beautiful rainforests

    1. pprober Avatar

      Oh, I appreciate the correction, Krister. I will go into the post and fix it. I did not see the typo. Thank you!

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  6. Jess Avatar

    I have seen a variety of psychologists over the years. I have moved a lot and had to find new ones.

    In September, I saw a psychologist who told me
    I was gifted. I never heard that before. It didn’t work out with her. I had interviewed her to see if she’d be good for couples counseling. She couldn’t keep a schedule. My husband is very linear and it ended up being a source of contention although he’s gone with me in the past (short term) to other psychologists.

    I have been trying to find another. I went back to the one I was seeing before finding out I was gifted. That’s for individual. I’ve also started the process of getting adhd and giftedness testing through another office since the one I’m now seeing doesn’t do all that.

    Since finding out about being gifted, I’ve been struggling a bit about what it means and how to accept it. But the psychologist who told me would either be running forty minutes behind or wouldn’t confirm appointments or follow up after. Her advice and reasonings were all over the place and I feel I was getting more anxious because I couldn’t get the answers I was looking for from her.

    What qualifications does a psychologist for the gifted need? Do they have to know a lot about giftedness or IQ testing to be a good fit?

    What should I do if I want to talk about giftedness, but I feel so pretentious?

    I want to go back to her (the disorganized one) because she’s the only one who ever told me I was gifted, but she also constantly made me uncomfortable and said things that I was internalizing and didn’t clarify. Long story.

    I am in a more rural area and most online therapists aren’t in network.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be quite disconcerting to have a therapist who is so disorganized consistently. I can see how you might want to find someone else, A therapist does not need to do IQ testing to know about giftedness. Here is more information that might help:
      It can be hard to talk about giftedness. Many people have expressed the concern about looking arrogant. You do need to pick and choose carefully who you share with so that you aren’t ridiculed or shamed. Thanks for sharing, Jess.

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  19. Natasha Avatar

    When my postpartum depression became too much for my OB, I was assigned a counselor that had never encountered a gifted patient. When I asked her how she would measure my success in therapy, for quantifiable goals, and a checklist, she thought I was being funny. When I stared at her and then explained that I just wanted an A in therapy, her response was “oh boy”. Over the next several sessions we had many disagreements on whether my high standards, goal setting, over analyzing, and nearly obsessive organization was a problem. I won. It wasn’t a problem. My chemistry was just out of whack from giving birth. At the end of my last session, she said that I changed how she would approach clients in the future. I think she just needs a Type A in her circle, or at least running the office. I spent time in the waiting room mentally correcting their efficiency issues.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It sounds like this turned out well. You didn’t pathologize your gifted traits and your therapist was eventually able to learn from you and not get defensive when you noticed details about how she worked. Yes? Thanks for providing this example for us, Natasha.

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  23. Rahul Tyagi Avatar
    Rahul Tyagi

    The clinic of Dr Sanju Gambhir has been major destination for many patients dealing with different types of stress related scenario. Being a famous psychotherapist she has mastered the art of treating various psychological conditions. The services provided at her clinic includes energy psychology treatment, stress management treatment and anger management treatment which has the maximum cases till date due to increasing pressure to sustain oneself in this challenging atmosphere.

    Dr. Sanju Gambhir

    Plot No.2, Yog Ashram Marg,
    Sector 3, Institutional Area,
    Rohini, New Delhi, 110085
    phone- +91-9350599168

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you Rahul for letting us know about this therapist. I know there are more readers here from India so this information ought to be helpful.

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  28. Renee Avatar

    I love this. I would only add this to your list:

    8. Find a Polarity Practitioner.


    Mine is beyond incredible. I only wish I could clone him 30,000 times and distribute him everywhere. The world would be a much better place.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the suggestion, Renee. Glad you have such a great person to work with!

  29. Lauren Avatar

    Your blog is amazing. I really feel like you’re speaking directly about my life. The only problem is I don’t think I’m considered gifted. I feel as though I fit the description in some areas, but not in others. I was diagnosed with ADHD almost two years ago and since then have found a great group to connect with, but I still feel like I haven’t found my tribe. I feel like no one thinks or feels like I do. It’s very isolating. How do I find where I fit? I feel like I need a rainforest therapist even though I might not be truly gifted.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Lauren. I’d trust that feeling that you might be gifted. There are what we might call degrees of giftedness. There are people who are at the genius level but there are those who may have less of that type of intellect but would still be in the gifted zone. If what I’m writing fits for you, chances are, you’re somewhere in the gifted category. Don’t give up on finding your tribe. They’re out there.

  30. gailkpost Avatar

    Paula, Great advice, and such an important topic. I think that most gifted people will sense pretty quickly if their therapist doesn’t “get” them.

    In addition to your good advice, I would also suggest that a gifted individual seek out a therapist who is experienced, since a relatively inexperienced therapist may not be a good fit, and secondly, if affordable, avoid automatically choosing a therapist just because he or she takes your insurance.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, thanks for these suggestions, Gail. Definitely, experience is important!

    2. honey34567 Avatar

      While health & well-being are an important (if not the most important) investment, many families are not in a position to choose a therapist that does not take (their) insurance. Often those gifted adults that need the most help are barely keeping their head above water, and despite surveying all available options extensively have to settle for someone who does not specialize in or have much experience with Gifted Adults. This leaves most of us to attempt self-help with the limited printed resources on Gifted Adults and the few blogs / groups as a reminder we aren’t alone, but not necessarily healing and putting our individual puzzle together.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        I just sent you a link to this post, not knowing that you’d already seen it. Yes, it can be hard to find someone when you don’t have the resources. That said, some therapists will have sliding scales or do some probono work. Or if you find someone who takes your insurance and you like, you can bring him/her articles to read to learn about giftedness. Not ideal, but it can work. But I do know how hard it can be to reach out for help if a person is treading water. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming.

    3. Heidi Aronson Avatar
      Heidi Aronson

      I am a pre-licensed marriage and family therapist, also a rainforest dweller who began graduate school at age 49. I’ve observed that trainees and interns can be some of the best matches for clients with intensity, because they never question that they have a great deal to learn and that learning to see from the client’s perspective is the only way to do it. They are passionate about giving their best to their work, having not yet learned to be cynical or intellectually lazy. In short, they’re “all in.” So don’t rule us newbies out!

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Point well-taken, Heidi! Thanks.

  31. Julie Cortez Avatar
    Julie Cortez

    Ah, so where does a unicorn go for validation & support and to get things re-framed? Over the years I have come to believe that “It takes one to know one” is more than a schoolyard chant and taunt. How true the words ring…for it truly does take a unicorn to really know a unicorn. I have found that my tribe, my “ya-ya sisterhood”, my intense and over-excitable friends are my therapists; as I am theirs.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      So wonderful to have found your tribe of unicorns, Julie.

  32. dmstauber Avatar

    I’ve had several experiences with therapists who were not a match for me because of my giftedness. One helped me a lot with the very specific issue that was her specialty; when we tried to move on to more general issues her eyes would glaze over as soon as I started talking, and she couldn’t follow my trains of thought. More recently I went to a psychiatrist who at our initial meeting, when I consulted the several pages of notes I had taken about my fairly complicated situation, laughed in a derisive way and said, “You must have a lot of time on your hands!”


    I am so very lucky to have found Paula!!!! At the first meeting of our gifted women’s support group, we all started talking at once about the nuances and implications of the ground rules we were setting. Then we stopped and looked at her in chagrin; someone apologized. Her response? “I love gifted children.” Ahhhhh. She tracks me with joy and approval as I bounce all over among issues and memories and all the layers of my multilayered mind.

    It was worth the wait. I hope everyone here can find such a therapist.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes. Joy. To be with you.

  33.  Avatar

    Well given my experiences I would say you don’t. You don’t find somebody who is able to help you with all the myriad of challenges gifted people face. Well said again Paula..I swear to God you’ve got a knack for getting inside my psyche and perhaps other people, to understand gifted people so much. My most recent experience with a “gifted” counsellor was at first I believed good. He promised he was gifted himself and knew what he was doing, but alas no, he betrayed me just like everybody else did…way brutal… But then it was internet counselling and apparently some people literally have no problem lying through their teeth and then wanting to weasel out of it. They seem to want to take zero responsibility for their behaviour, way brutal… He wasn’t even a counsellor! BUT on the upside I have a wonderful naturopath who wants to get to know me not just the me I was forced to be…the entertaining use my skills, and charm and ability for everybody else kind of person. He wants to know me and help me heal and feel better so that is awesome. For example you can’t be up all the time, it is what is contributing to my problems, you have to take breaks and relax. As well, I’ve been seeing a new counsellor person a bit but she isn’t gifted herself and she is quite a ways a way. So it is a bit of trek to see her….but she seems to understand CPTSD well and is okay with me being gifted…so I don’t know if I should keep seeing her, but I might…I just wanna feel better you know 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be so hard to find the right match. I’m so sorry you’ve had bad experiences. A good naturopath can be very helpful. And sometimes a trek can be worth it to find the right person. I hope it starts to go well for you!

  34. holbart Avatar

    Here are six therapeutic attitudes Nancy McWilliams teaches her student counselors in her book, Psychoanalytic Diagnosis:

    Willingness to admit limitations
    Willingness to admit mistakes

    These are a good set of attitudes for anyone to have, but essential for a therapist working with sensitive, intuitive clients, IMO.

    It’s crazy-making when you have more self-awareness and emotional congruence than your therapist.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      This is a great list, holbart. And yes, that’s one of the challenges for a gifted person, to find a therapist who is more self-aware and emotionally mature/healed than you are.

  35. Aimee Yermish Avatar
    Aimee Yermish

    I wrote a blog post on this topic, which might be helpful:

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Aimee. I appreciate your sharing your expertise.

  36. Noks Nauta Avatar
    Noks Nauta

    This is very important!, Paula! I get many questions about this. We published a leaflet on this topic too: ‘How to choose appropriate professional support’. You find it here:
    We used many experiences from gifted people when writing this.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks Noks. You’re a great resource.

  37. lauralynnwalsh Avatar

    My psychotherapist is my music teacher. She also has a “rainforest” mind and she helps boost me up.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Absolutely. Music teachers as therapists!