If you are the parent of a gifted or high-ability child, you probably have tried a variety of options: meetings with teachers, discussions with family and friends, books, internet searches, testing, and perhaps even counseling. Now you may be looking for some straightforward advice to help with decisions related to your gifted child's academic choices and emotional well-being. Or you just might need to sort out and prioritize goals for your child.
Why you might be seeking parent coaching
Parents of gifted children also find themselves in the role of advocate, where they battle school policy or must repeatedly explain their child's asynchronous development or social immaturity to puzzled neighbors and friends. Decisions regarding grade acceleration or options such as homeschooling, cyber-schooling, or private schools raise a range of questions. It can be exhausting, overwhelming, and isolating to grapple with life as the parent of a gifted child!
In addition, schools frequently lack an understanding of a gifted child's unique needs, or the resources to help with your child's college search. Gifted students and their families often are left in the dark when it comes to critical tests and other opportunities that could dramatically affect college admissions or even financial aid options. As a parent, you may benefit from coaching support to help your child navigate this path and remain alert before options are closed.
Families seeking coaching often have questions about their child's social, emotional, and academic development. Common questions include:
- child development - what is "normal" for gifted children
- understanding asynchronous development and overexcitabilities
- managing family dynamics when children are gifted
- setting educational goals
- decision-making about testing, acceleration, or other types of schooling
- managing roadblocks within the schools
- developing an advocacy plan
- college planning goals for gifted students
- ongoing parenting support as needed
How Parent Coaching Can Help
Education consultation/coaching provides support, guidance, and advice related to parenting a gifted child. These are some benefits that can be achieved through parent coaching:
- Support when facing uncertainty, feelings of isolation, or difficult choices regarding your child's social and academic development
- Clarity about what is "normal" behavior in a gifted or twice-exceptional child, and when to seek additional services
- Strategies for advocating within the schools, communicating with teachers, or long-range academic planning based on your child's unique needs
- Clarity regarding decisions associated with grade or subject acceleration, dual enrollment, or when it is time to consider homeschooling, cyber-schooling, or private school (assuming these are options)
- Strategies for college planning, including long-range planning, finding the best academic and social/emotional fit for your child, and navigating the high-stress application process
What happens during a parent coaching session?During our initial meeting, I will quickly gather information about your most pressing concerns, along with relevant history related to you or your child. I will ask about your goals and see if we can develop a plan for achieving them. We will focus on your specific concerns and I will try to help you come up with the best solution to the problem.
Coaching/consultation is not psychotherapy, which focuses on alleviating symptoms, understanding the underlying dynamics that create these symptoms, and changing problem behaviors. Instead, coaching/consultation uses strategic planning, values clarification, brainstorming, and goal-setting to reach identified goals.
Here is what I won't do
- I won't criticize your parenting or what you have already tried.
- I won't focus on myself - this is YOUR time and not a place for me to got into detail about my personal experiences.
- I won't tell you what to do - I will offer ideas and strategies, and suggest reasons for any roadblocks in your way. It is up to you to decide what works best for you and your family.
- I won't offer guidance solely based on my personal experiences. Unlike some gifted coaching and consultation services, I do not claim expertise solely due to being gifted or because I raised a gifted child.
- I won't provide psychotherapy during coaching sessions. Although I have practiced as a Clinical Psychologist for over 35 years, my role in our work together will be as a coach.
Why see a psychologist for coaching?
Personal and executive coaching have been around for a while, and people from a range of backgrounds have worked in this field. But it is surprising to note that there are no state governing boards granting licensure or credentialing for coaching, or that oversee the quality of training programs, enforce rules and laws, or ensure that coaches adhere to a code of ethics. (See Gebhardt for more.)
On the other hand, Psychologists (like most licensed mental health professionals) go through extensive training in the study of behavior, motivation, and personality dynamics. Psychologists participate in five or more years of post-graduate education and several years of post-doctoral supervision. Their training emphasizes interpersonal listening skills, methods for providing support and guidance, and the importance of healthy boundaries in the therapeutic relationship that encourage the client's ultimate independence. They adhere to a code of ethics enforced by state and national licensing and professional boards, maintain confidentiality, and respect clients' differences and values.
In short, even though coaching is different from psychotherapy, a psychologists' expertise still informs their work when in the role of a coach or consultant.
I also work with families of musically talented children, where questions may arise related to ambivalence, procrastination, burn-out, multipotentiality, and perfectionism. Parents often question when - and how much - encouragement to offer. Musically gifted children typically receive little guidance within their schools about future career paths. Many struggle with decisions related to career goals, choosing college vs. conservatory, or even whether to major in music at all. Coaching can help provide the support and guidance to navigate these challenges.
Why do I offer parent coaching?
I have provided psychotherapy for over 35 years as a Clinical Psychologist, with a niche in giftedness for the past 15 years. However, many parents of gifted children do not need psychotherapy - they just want support, guidance, and an opportunity to brainstorm about what works best for their child. As the parent of two intellectually and musically gifted young adults, I also understand these dilemmas on a personal level. I served as co-chair of a gifted parents advocacy group when my children were in school, and continue to advocate for gifted children by providing workshops for schools and parenting groups, along with articles, professional workshops, and a recent book about parenting gifted children, The Gifted Parenting Journey. Through all of this, I have acquired a broad perspective on the social/emotional and academic struggles gifted and twice-exceptional children face - and the isolation, frustration, and uncertainty their parents experience.
What about adult coaching?
*I sometimes provide coaching for adults themselves. However, I have typically found that there is less of a difference between coaching and psychotherapy when working with adults, so often recommend psychotherapy instead. If you have an interest in coaching for yourself, please contact me so that we can discuss which approach would be best for you.
What will it cost?When coaching is conducted by phone or videoconferencing, I charge a reduced rate - less than my in-person psychotherapy fee. My fee for the initial consultation is $185.00 per hour, and any follow-up visits are $170.00 per hour or $85.00 per 1/2 hour.
How do I get started?Just give me a call at 215 884-9260 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
I will need to speak with you to see if my services are the right approach for you. Once we have spoken briefly by phone (typically about five minutes) and have agreed to meet, I will ask that you:
- complete a consent form (which can be accessed on my website here), and
- submit payment by credit card at least one day in advance. Information about paying by credit card or Pay Pal online can be found here.
Looking forward to working with you!
(Note: Educational consultation or coaching is not the best option when a psychoeducational evaluation or psychotherapy is needed. If you contact me and it seems clear that a consultation would not serve your needs, I will refer you to the appropriate services.)