Parents of Gifted Children — Who Needs the Counseling?

my first book, new cover

Parents come to me worried about their gifted kids. Anxiety, existential depression, trouble in school, sensitivities, loneliness, empathy, perfectionism, social responsibility. I describe the typical social-emotional traits of gifted children and the challenges they often experience. We strategize. This information is a relief for parents who are overwhelmed by these super intense, extremely curious, highly sensitive beings.  Then I tell them: “Your child doesn’t need counseling. You do.” 

That doesn’t always go over so well.

But it is often true*. Parents who understand their own beliefs, behaviors, patterns, and pasts will be better able to care for their children. Experiences you have in childhood have a huge impact on self-esteem and self-confidence. This seems obvious to me but many people still don’t seem to get it. Even if you were raised in a healthy family, if you were also a gifted child, you may be overly reactive to your kids’ struggles. And if you were raised in any sort of abusive home, the effects will impact how you raise your own children. It will be important, then, to make the time to address your own doubts and sense of self to see where you need guidance. Your sensitive children will pick up on your unexpressed distress, even if you think you are hiding it well. When you are introspective and gain self-awareness, they will learn that self-examination and self-compassion matter.

Of course, counseling can come in many forms. Psychotherapy will be particularly important if there was abuse, neglect, or addictions in your family of origin. There are also 12-Step and other support groups, self-help books, coaches, online courses, and Instagram therapists. There are Facebook groups for parents with twice-exceptional kids (2e).

Where, then, do you start?

I’m glad you asked. I have two books to recommend. OK. Full disclosure. These are my books. I wrote them because there isn’t much out there specifically for gifted adults. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, includes many case studies of my psychotherapy clients so that you can see what the counseling issues are and also how they might be addressed in therapy. It also lists quite a few resources and strategies and covers perfectionism, sensitivities, relationships, multipotentiality, anxiety, and more.

From a reader: “…I see this book as a beacon to those who are ready to expand into a deeper knowing of themselves, as a portal to liberating the gifts of those with rainforest minds so we can self-actualize – become whole – awaken to the truth of who we are…”

My second book is a compilation of my most popular blog posts from 2014-2018 organized by topic. It includes exercises at the end of every chapter that will help you understand and accept your own giftedness. It is an easier read so it makes a great gift for friends, educators, therapists, relatives, and your busy teenagers.

From Dr. Melanie Hayes founder of Big Minds Unschool: “…You will find no better guide to help you examine all of the complex nuances of having a mind that is teeming with inexplicable life!…”

If you’d like to see me in action and learn more about my books, here’s a short video with a heart-felt review from the lovely Dr. Amber Siler.

And here is a link to psychotherapist and fabulous human Tina Harlow’s free ebook on parenting gifted children that contains statements from many experts in the field of giftedness. Including me.


To my bloggEEs: Many of you have read my books. Thank you! I would be most grateful if you would write a review on Amazon. (It doesn’t need to be long or perfect!) And let us know in the comments what you think. If you are a parent, can you make time for introspection and self-healing? What has worked for you? What are your questions?

(*Note: Of course, there are times when your child does need counseling.)

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.

8 responses to “Parents of Gifted Children — Who Needs the Counseling?”

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  1. treeguy1954 Avatar

    I am not, who is able to judge but what if Tesla or Einstein was to be 20 or 30 years old in today’s society or time period? For as much as we do know, how much we don’t understand is how much we judge and degrade a person for who they are or what they think. (I read this and it kind of made sense?)

    I find myself to be above average for intellectual capacity but it does not matter what I know because I know no one to share it with(to share an idea with a company to show value and get a job, they are 20 years behind on knowledge, science or really up to date on technology, being smart means people are/can be scared of you). If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

    Speaking to a counselor is good and getting help really does relieve stress, at what point are you truly to intelligent to actually find someone who can relate? A mental health professional is going to help you cope but not help you figure out who to talk about thermodynamics or heat transfer or even electrodynamics (or very highly intellectually stimulating subjects)?

    I feel discouraged. Stories and others personal experiences sound similar but still seem not relevant to me personally. I will keep working my Einstein job but just know I will just have to keep dumbing myself down.

    As an experiment, I did try Puttytribe. I was not impressed. It seemed like there was a lot of spiritual or religious conversations or topics and it did not help. Also, there were more than a few people who wanted to learn how to write or do things online. I find somethings online to be highly entertaining (people want to be paid to entertain you) and it just does not contribute to everyday living. I didn’t do much with groups but with 2 or 10 people, no real substantial meaning/action/discussion was really had. The model of paying a fee and being part of a small community sounded good but in the end, a business owner needs to make an income on time spent on a project and it really seems like it was for profit and the original goal had been lost(I thing there is less than 3000 members on the site and maybe 20 are active weekly participants?).

    Today was a boring day and difficult day, my venting might not be accurate but maybe feed back will be encouraging or help me change my train/thought of mind. Finding a community to relay my feelings is very helpful and I am glad Paula has created it.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      The higher you go on the gifted scale, the harder it is to find people who will understand you or who you can talk with. So that may be what you’re dealing with, treeguy. I hope you can find a little comfort here. <3

  2. Sherri Avatar

    This post resonates with me, as this is the path I took to get to where I am now, and that I continue along. Parenting a highly gifted son (now 8), led me to seek answers on how to parent my neuroatypical son, while still retaining my sanity and to help him be understood by the world. That led to parenting coaching with a gifted child expert, which then evolved into my own work as I discovered my Rainforest Mind. I have very recently (and continue to) come to embrace my emotional sensitivity and intensity, in part from reading your blog articles Paula. Turns out my well meaning family really didn’t help me by ‘toughening me up’, in my childhood. As my daughter gets older, and I see she carries many of the same emotional intensities I do, I know I need to address these within me, so I can be an example as well as have tools, to teach her to be complete self. Thank you for your blogs Paula.
    PS I’ve also come to embrace the multi-potentiality side – I just thought I was flakey, but turns out having 2 different careers isn’t crazy!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Not flakey! Not crazy! Thank you for sharing, Sherri.

  3. ewabs2 Avatar

    your books have really helped me get started on the way to recovery.
    and now I am recommending your blog and your books to lots of parents with what sounds like rainforest kids. Very often the parents also look like rainforest minds to me, but they are so in denial about that because they where not good at school and now have an ordinairy job, how can they ever be rainforest. most come back the next time with, yep I see it now.
    but it is still my kids not me.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you so much for sharing my work, ewabs2. <3

  4. Adriana Avatar

    So true. I will read those books for sure.
    I have had always been considered gifted by others but I never believed that I was. After a PhD and two Masters degrees and many different jobs I still think I am not that gifted but deep inside…I think I am (and I have most of the characteristics you list to define gifted people). My rainforest mind wanders too much so I am still looking for professional fulfillment and I feels jealous of colleagues who followed one career path and are successful. I am still struggling with my 1000 interests. They don’t produce anything valuable. My kids are highly successful and my younger is a very bright child (the classic definition of gifted). I am nervous about her future because of my insecurities.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Adriana. Be sure to read the chapters on multipotentiality!

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