What Should Gifted (Rainforest-Minded) Adults Expect From Therapists, Consultants, and Coaches?

Are you wondering what to expect when seeking guidance from therapists, consultants, and coaches? Wonder no more! Here is your handy list:

With any therapist, consultant, or coach, you ought to expect:

  1. To speak freely and openly about your frustrations, challenges, losses, and fears without being judged, misinterpreted, or misunderstood. Without being told you ought to rise above it all because you are “so smart.” Without the listener feeling threatened because of your intelligence. Without being bullied or scapegoated. Without being told to just think positive thoughts.
  2. To feel comfortable speaking about successes, accomplishments, and dreams because you are not being judged, misinterpreted, or misunderstood. Without being told you ought to be more humble or should not make others feel bad. Without being told you will not be liked if you show too much confidence.
  3. To have your trauma, anxiety, depression, and/or loneliness addressed and acknowledged, not dismissed and minimized. To be seen, met, and helped even though you are able to articulate an in-depth understanding of your traumatic experiences. (Note: This would only apply to therapists because trauma is not directly addressed in consulting or coaching.)
  4. To have needs!
  5. To experience greater trust and safety over time.
  6. To maintain your high standards.
  7. To work with someone who is introspective, highly sensitive, smart, (rainforest-y!) and has their own on-going practice of self-examination.
  8. To trust that your practitioner will find their own self-care. That they will be able to hold a large enough container for you and gain support from their own practitioners, not from you. That they love your complexity, so it does not overwhelm them; and if they don’t understand something you are saying, they will ask for clarification.
  9. To speak up if you are judged, misinterpreted, or misunderstood and then, be heard and appreciated for your courage.
  10. To trust your intuition if something does not feel right to you. To give yourself permission to end the relationship when you feel the practitioner has taken you as far as they are able.

(Note: Just to clarify. Licensed psychotherapists in the US, including myself, are typically only able to see clients in the state in which they are licensed, so my counseling practice is limited to Oregon. But I do consultations worldwide. The consultations are on the topics here on the blog and in my books, specifically about the rainforest mind issues, rather than about trauma and family of origin events. If you want to know more about consultations, I’d love to hear from you through the contact form on my About page.)


To my bloggEEs: What other expectations do you have when working with a therapist, consultant, or coach? I’m guessing your next question might be ‘how do I find this person???’ Well, I am in the process of procuring a list from some colleagues of mine. I will link to that list in a future post and add it here later. (Sorry, it’s not ready yet.) In the meantime, the site Psychology Today has a therapist search engine with many profiles. Along with asking your friends who they know, this could be a place to start.

And thank you, as always, for being here, and for your love. If you want to know more about my books, go here! And if you already have my books, I would be so grateful for a review on Amazon! Your support means so much to me.

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.

12 responses to “What Should Gifted (Rainforest-Minded) Adults Expect From Therapists, Consultants, and Coaches?”

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  1. Shannon Avatar

    Would you like to move to Illinois? Seriously though, I have not found this mythical therapist (yourself excepted). What I have found is that the uniqueness of our wiring is not only not understood, but unknown to most therapists I have dealt with. One that I worked with didn’t even know she fit the profile herself. They don’t understand the depth, breadth, and pervasiveness of the gifted experience and try to fit us into the tiny little box of their protocols. The work they want to focus on is so incredibly small, shallow, and slow. My own psychoeducation and integration quickly outpaced the treatment plan and the therapist could not keep up. Didn’t recognize that I quickly and thoroughly understand and integrate concepts and that intuition and insight are bread and butter to me. Deeply sensitive and spiritual work isn’t available with every therapist to begin with, and finding one who understands the gifted populace is even more difficult. Honestly, I’ve had more luck with my deep dive into psychoeducation, my understanding of the therapeutic process through going through it, and doing the work on my own using my own intuition and knowledge. I wish that I could have found someone who gets me and could work with my differences in not-Chicago. It works more fluidly in relationship.

    1. pprober Avatar

      Yes, these are some of the reason it’s so difficult, Shannon. There is a therapist/coach in the Chicago area. You might meet her and see what you think. https://www.aileenkelleher.com

      1. Shannon Avatar

        Unfortunately, I’m downstate, but that doesn’t preclude tele-sessions. Thank you so much for your recommendation. The world’s a better place with you in it.

        1. pprober Avatar

          Oh, thank you, Shannon. I’m sure she works online. Again, I don’t know her personally so you will still need to see if you think she’s a good match.

    2. Jennifer Avatar

      This! 👆

      Finding this blog has been very validating in helping me realise there wasn’t something “wrong” with me that I have never had a therapist who really got me or could really dive deep enough for what I needed (which for me doesn’t feel that deep). This was even though (because of my mental health knowledge due to my work and personal interest) in more recent years, I could nearly give them the roadmap of where I was and what I needed and still not get it or be able to help.

      I think it’s been a mixture of my being rainforest-y and them (often) being well-meaning but unfortunately ill equipped / trained or introspective enough to work together, though I tried to stay open and give it a best shot each time.

      In a funny way it’s been a bit of a blessing though, although frustrating at the time!! I used to, till recently be very much looking for answers outside myself and I think with the help of my lovely partner who is also rainforest-y IMO, there’s been something positive for me about where I’ve got to with my brain and his, rather than a therapist, if that makes sense?

      I know they’re out there. You are an example of that, Paula. I know that I also provide it to clienyin my work. A bit like good friends, I think they’re not always easy to come by.. we often need to work hard to find them and have some luck or synchronicity on our side too. I hope if I ever need therapy or similar again, I will find it this time. This blog helps remind me of what it is.

      1. pprober Avatar

        Glad to hear you have a rainforest-y partner, Jennifer. If you ever decide you would like therapy again, there is a link to the google doc in this post which could give you a place to start. Thanks for sharing.

        1. Jennifer Avatar

          Thanks Paula! I just realized I’ve mentioned therapy not working for me a few times here.. I want to apologise but am catching my people pleasing habit! 😉 I guess it feels like a safe place where I’m understood and you have helped me clarify further why it’s probably happened in regards to how I think. It still boggles my mind a little how hard it can be to find good appropriate therapy if I’m honest. Last week I thought, maybe it’s about going privately but then I remember the horror stories I’ve heard from some clients about that too. Your list will be helpful for me and them, thanks! And yes, thank god for a rainforest-y partner! He’s been amazing.

    3. Alia Avatar

      Yes, to all of this. I’ve made a few abortive attempts at therapy over the years. Each time, when confronted with literal coloring books, mindless platitudes, or those tiny boxes for various protocols I couldn’t jam myself into, I realized the therapist didn’t get it/me, was uninterested/incapable of growth, and, therefore, per usual, if I wanted actual information, I was going to have to do the reading myself. Sigh. I’m not sufficiently interested in the field to do degree-equivalent reading, but that seems like the only way to get past the abundance of mediocre practitioners.

      Good luck Shannon and everyone else!

      1. pprober Avatar

        I’m so sorry this is your experience, Alia. Sadly, there are a lot of platitudes and tiny boxes out there. Sending you love. I’m glad you are here.

      2. Shannon Avatar

        therefore, per usual, if I wanted actual information, I was going to have to do the reading myself. Sigh.

        This, so much of this. Good luck to you too!

  2. Me Avatar

    Thank you Paula!

    I found her by chance, just by being willing to have therapy through video calls during the pandemic.
    She was/had/gave a lot of what you listed above and it helped me immensely.
    Unfortunately she retired but I cherish her for the space and the freedom she provided. For her curiosity and openness.
    Even though she had no idea about giftedness she was willing to walk with me down that road.
    I hope I find another therapist of that calibre again.

    1. pprober Avatar

      A great description of what to look for, Me. Glad you found her. Always good to hear from you.

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