Arriving at a Psychodynamic Formulation of the Gifted Child’s Problem

A focused summary of the assessment of a child or adult is called a psychodynamic formulation. This is a concise description of the psychological pathways and psychological mechanisms for how conflicts about particular factors became transformed into specific behavioral and educational problems, as well as psychological symptoms. This psychodynamic formulation is the initial framework within which the therapy begins. The psychodynamic formulation also has several other functions. It allows the therapist to distinguish a gifted child’s emotional responses to his/her problems from the emotional causes. It also helps avoid the pitfalls of misdiagnosis: mistaking an emotionally based problem for a problem caused by a neurobiological defect or a psychiatric disorder.

The consequences of misdiagnosis are serious. Helping a gifted child assumed to have a basic neurobiological defect focus exclusively on compensation techniques deprives him/her of a chance to resolve and eliminate their basic emotional conflicts. Conversely, it is clearly inappropriate to treat a gifted child as if he/she has an emotionally based problem when the basic problem is caused by a true neurobiological defect.