Psychotherapy For The Gifted
Jerald Grobman M.D.
Madelon Sann L.C.S.W.

Gifted Adolescents

Why do Adolescents Come to Us?

Existential Depression, underachievement, social isolation, learning disabilities (reading disability: dyslexia, writing disability: dysgraphia, math disability: acalculia), homework refusal, and school refusal. Psychiatric disorders such as bipolar, anxiety disorders other depressive disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders: OCD.

Special Developmental Conflicts of Gifted Adolescents

  • Dependence/Independence
    In order to advance to higher levels of achievement and accomplishment, gifted adolescents need to accept a prolonged period of dependence just when there is a normal developmental push for more independence.  Gifted adolescents must depend on:
    • Their parents:
      • To provide increasingly sophisticated and specialized resources.
      • To provide the necessary perspectives and controls on gifted development.
    • Their mentors, coaches, and advisors:
      • As role models for inspiration and as experts who can guide them.
      • To a professional level of achievement and accomplishment.
  • Grandiosity/Reality
    • With an upsurge of physical and intellectual energy, gifted adolescents frequently have desires for both grand personal accomplishments as well as for making important social and political contributions.
    • Accepting the frustration of their current limitations, the need for more personal growth and the hard work required to develop true expertise can be frustrating.
  • Gifted Development/Normal Development
    • Gifted adolescents often need to make choices between the demands of gifted development and the normal time-sensitive tasks of establishing a social network and developing intimate personal and sexual relationships. These choices may seem exclusionary and cause conflict and anxiety.

How do Gifted Adolescents Attempt to Resolve These Developmental Tasks?

Despite their intellectual sophistication, gifted adolescents rarely can use mature coping methods to resolve psychological conflicts. Their attempts at managing the anxiety that accompanies unresolved conflicts can be quite maladaptive – conflicts and anxieties can be:

  • Passively avoided
  • Passive/aggressively projected onto others- especially parents and mentors, coaches and advisors
  • Acted out self-destructively
    • Putting themselves in harm’s way
    • Poor personal hygiene
    • Substance abuse.
  • Expressed by the sudden appearance of a learning disability or refusal to attend school
  • By trivializing gifted curiosity and passion
  • Expressed as psychosomatic illnesses
  • Expressed as psychological symptoms
  • Expressed by the beginning of an “Existential Crisis”.

Left untreated, these maladaptive methods of conflict resolution may develop into true psychiatric disorders the most common of which are:

  • Mood disorders
  • Depressions which may include suicidal ideation
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive/Compulsive disorders.

Contact Us

Jerald Grobman M.D.

Madelon Sann L.C.S.W.​