The Gifted Resource Center of New England offers individual and family psychotherapy for children and adolescents through the end of high school. A variety of gifted children’s behavior, emotional and academic problems are addressed with a focus in which giftedness is recognized as an important factor in how the individual and family look at the world, relate to others and feel about self.
Asynchrony is also addressed. Asynchrony is the difference among the different “ages” within the gifted child, for example, cognitive mental age, social age, emotional age, chronological age and physical age. Sam might have a mental age of 10 years 6 months while being 6 years 3 months chronologically. He might have a social age of 8, an emotional age of 6, and a physical age of 6. Handwriting may be age level while his ideas are far beyond his years.
Asynchrony can also occur within a developmental area, for example, a child might show very high reasoning ability but the ability to organize, plan and self-monitor (executive functions) might be more age level.
Finally, asynchrony occurs between the child and the expectations of the outside world. Sue can read at 3rd grade level in kindergarten, but the expectation is that children can’t read in kindergarten, so Sue feels the discrepancy between what she knows she can do, what the other children do and what the teacher seems to expect. Sue might complain to her parents, or she might decide that children aren’t supposed to read in kindergarten so she doesn’t let the teacher know she can read. Worse, she stops reading at home too, convinced that she was doing something wrong. The feeling of asynchrony was so uncomfortable to Sue that she decided to give up reading to be like everyone else.
Socially, the gifted child may feel out of place because the other children do not have similar interests, or have not developed similar interests to the degree the gifted child has. Asynchrony is part and parcel of most of the mental health problems found in gifted children and it certainly gives mental health diagnoses such as ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disability, anxiety and depression an added aspect that needs to be taken into account.
Psychotherapy is the process of both coming to understand an underlying problem and developing strategies of ameliorating the problem. This process involves working as a team with child and family to foster better coping skills, more emotional resiliency and learning particular skills to change behavior and feelings in the problem area. Goals are decided on mutually.
In individual therapy with an older child or adolescent, parents would be part of the treatment but not necessarily with the child. In family therapy, child and parents are present together. In parent sessions, the child is not present.
Therapy with adolescents involves more talking and strategizing within the context of a relationship. With children, therapy involves more playing with therapeutic games and toys. Treatment consists of an initial assessment and then weekly to monthly sessions focused on specific issues that require change. Usually both parents and child are worked with, as well as, schools and teachers.
Referrals for therapy can come from the parents themselves, from another psychologist or other mental health professional, from a physician, and from school personnel. Problems that elicit referral can include: depression, anxiety, anger control, AD/HD, Asperger Syndrome, oppositional and aggressive behavior, mood disorders, tantrums and other behavior problems, poor motivation and school failure, school refusal and avoidance, poor self-esteem, eating and toileting issues. Peer problems are also often a focus of treatment for children. Referral from the Gifted Resource Center of New England can be made for adjunct services such as medication management, group therapy and sensory integration training.