Psychotherapy is a term originally meant to describe a method, closely related to psychoanalysis, for the treatment of patients with various forms of psychological illness. Today, the term has evolved to describe any method used by specifically trained therapists who use the relationship with their patients (sometimes referred as clients) and various techniques of verbal and nonverbal communication. Its purpose is to eliminate, change, or suppress psychological processes that interfere with psychological and personality development.
Techniques may involve a combination of confrontation, clarification, interpretation, insight, advice, support, encouragement, guidance, and reassurance, as well as strategies for cognitive and behavioral modification.
There are no research studies that suggest standardized procedures or uniform approaches for the psychological treatment of gifted individuals. Nevertheless, clinicians are often faced with the need to help gifted individuals in psychological distress. A review of the limited psychotherapy literature may provide some useful insights.
A range of approaches is described. Cognitive and behavioral methods address conscious aspects of psychological difficulties. Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic methods address unconscious factors. One eclectic approach describes how both approaches are combined.
The literature includes a case report of the psychoanalysis of a young, gifted girl; clinical excerpts from the psychoanalysis of adolescents; a case report of the psychotherapy of a young boy. Other authors give general descriptions of the issues for both patient (or client) and therapist as they arise in psychotherapy. A recent unpublished manuscript gives a detailed description for how a traditional psychodynamic psychotherapeutic approach can be modified when treating exceptionally gifted adolescents and adults. The report also describes how their psychotherapy unfolded in predictable stages.