Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Understanding the gifted from a unique perspective: An interview

With the release of "Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-being of Gifted Adults and Youth," author Paula Prober has agreed to an interview about her new book.

Available now on Amazon, this engaging read uses the metaphor of a rainforest mind to offer a unique perspective on giftedness. It also provides useful tips to help gifted individuals and families weather the emotional ups and downs associated with being gifted. Learn more about the book below:

Gail: What messages and understanding about Rainforest Minds (RFMs) do you most hope readers will take away from this book?

Paula: I hope that readers will gain a greater understanding of their rainforest minds, and find tools that they can use that will move them toward more self-acceptance, self-confidence and to a life of authenticity, meaning and purpose.

Gail: You have a very comprehensive history - as a teacher, a gifted education teacher and a psychotherapist. How does this combination of experiences inform your understanding of RFMs and gifted individuals?

Paula: My first experience with gifted children was in the schools when I was in my mid-twenties. Over those years, I worked with students in grades 1-8 and I got to see their academic frustrations and needs along with their social-emotional struggles. I saw how important  it was for them to interact with each other and to work at their own pace on projects that interested them. I loved the work because the kids were such sensitive, empathetic, and eager learners when the educational setting was flexible and intellectually stimulating.
Now, as a psychotherapist, I counsel gifted adults and consult with parents. My years with the kids has given me a foundation of understanding so that I can identify giftedness fairly readily, help clients sort through their gifted traits and understand how giftedness affected their experiences in childhood, both at home and at school. If they're dealing with anxiety or depression, for example, I'm able to help them determine the roots of the symptoms, as they learn how the rainforest-minded traits influenced their life. Then they can differentiate that from dysfunctional family issues or trauma. We stop pathologizing giftedness!

Gail: You write about various traits seen amont RFMs that tend to create impediments - oversensitivity, perfectionism, existential depression, loneliness, for example. Does any one particular trait stand out to you as the most difficult barrier these individuals face?

Paula: I don't think there's one that stands out because there are so many variables. That said, I do see loneliness as an issue quite often. The sensitivities, intensities, perfectionism, etc. can all be addressed within the person. But finding friends and partners requires circumstances and situations often beyond one's control. So perhaps, that's the most difficult barrier.

Gail: You convey a general impression that many gifted people and RFMs often have difficulty recognizing and understanding their giftedness. What do you recommend to help them appreciate more about who they are?

Paula: Gifted folks often know how much they don't know, link giftedness to high achievement and care deeply about justice and fairness. So they tend not to recognize and to minimize their abilities. They often don't realize that sensitivity, empathy, and perfectionism are indications of rainforest minds.
They may not know that acknowledging giftedness isn't about competition or proving their worth, but is a way to understand their struggles and then find their particular path(s) in life. I recommend books (Jacobsen's The Gifted Adult and my book), blogs (yours and mine!), and online groups (Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, Hoagiesgifted.org, Intergifted.com). And many other resources depending on the individual.

Gail: At the end of each chapter in your book, you offer ideas and advice for embracing one's giftedness and finding solutions to improve a sense of well-being. How does someone know when they need to move beyond these suggestions and seek professional help?

Paula: Here are some signs one needs to seek professional help: frequent bouts of anxiety that feel out of control and frightening, repeated over-reactions to your child's emotional intensity or boundary testing, frequent periods of overwhelm with an inability to self-soothe, rage responses to minor events, serious depression, patterns of unhealthy and/or abusive relationships with friends and partners, frequent feelings of unworthiness or self-hatred, a history of serious childhood abuse or trauma.

Gail: Do you have any additional thoughts that you would like to share?

Here are some related links:
Description of my book: https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/your-rainforest-mind-the-book/
Webinar on gifted adults: https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/webinar/
What therapists need to know about rainforest-minded clients: https://rainforestmnd.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/psychotherapy-and-gifted-clients/
How to find a psychotherapist: https://rainforestmind.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/how-to-find-a-psychotherapist-who-loves-your-rainforest-mind/
Website about social and emotional issues among the gifted: Sengifted.org        

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