My Focus on Gifted Services

I have worked as a school psychologist in many public, private, and parochial schools for over 40 years and with gifted students, PreK-12, for 40 years.  I am providing the following services to parents or schools in the field of gifted education

 

Psychological Assessment

  • Intellectual 
  • Academic
  • Learning Styles
  • Social Maturity
  • Individual Learning Plan
  • Creativity
  • Study Habits, Attitudes and Skills
  • Educational Preference
  • Emotional Status
  • Self Confidence
  • Verbal Learning
  • Classroom Observation
  • Visual - Spacial
  • Communication Skills 
  • Adaptive Behavior 
  • Pre Vocational and Vocational Interest
  • Early Entrance
  • Executive Functioning

 

Consultation

  • Forms of Assessment
  • Gifted Identification
  • Academic Coaching
  • School-Parent Relations
  • Implementing Learning Plans
  • Classroom Modifications and Adaptations
  • Integrating Gifted and Special Education Services
  • Reviewing School Assessments
  • Counseling Gifted
  • Forms of Acceleration 
  • Teacher Selection
  • Learning Styles
  • Working with Parents and School Staff
  • Reducing Stress and Perfectionism
  • Highly Gifted
  • Social and Emotional Needs
  • Underachievers
  • Teacher Inservice
  • Learning Teams Telephone Consultation

 

A good time to seek counseling for a gifted child is when he or she has a change in their educational program.  This change may occur when the child transitions from elementary to middle school or from middle to high school.  It could also happen when the child has a change in their program of acceleration or a change in teaching style.  Counseling can also help when a child has a problem such as anxiety, poor interpersonal relations, or sadness that lasts for more than a few weeks.  Most parents agree that it is very helpful to get a professional measure of the severity of the problem, reasonable expectations of the child, and recommended treatment of the problem.

Paige Dansinger, 2015

Paige Dansinger, 2015

However, it is difficult to find a therapist who is knowledgeable about gifted and talented children.  I have a great deal of experience working with gifted children in the areas of assessment, program planning, staff and parent consultation, research, and counseling.  I have recently completed a 40 year survey of gifted children I have assessed which was presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Minnesota Council of Gifted and Talented.  As a Licensed Psychologist, I am also experienced in counseling children with a variety of problems including adjustment reactions, anxiety, depression, ADHD, interpersonal relations, and “stressed out” feelings.

When you do seek counseling, you can tell your child you are getting professional help in planning so as to make family and school experiences more enjoyable.  You may indicate to your child that the family has concern rather than labeling the child with a problem to be remedied.  I will ask parents and the child to fill out questionnaires or take brief psychological tests to help understand the issue.  In most cases, I will also ask the child’s teachers, with parent permission, to fill out rating forms.  A treatment plan will be developed if counseling is needed.  Parents will be kept informed and often included in counseling sessions.  I will suggest specific behaviors or techniques for your child to try at home and/or at school.

My preferred counseling technique is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  CBT combines the effective strategies of cognitive therapy and behavior therapy.  Cognitive therapy teaches your child how certain patterns in his or her thinking are causing your child’s symptoms such as sadness, anger, or worry.  Behavior therapy helps your child break the link between problem situations and his or her usual reactions to them and to teach your child to calm his or her mind and body.  Gifted children are excellent thinkers and will be able to use CBT in order to think more clearly, feel more satisfied, and make better decisions.  Extensive research by psychologists and other mental health professionals have shown that CBT has been very effective and a preferred treatment technique for many problems gifted children experience.  Research in the field of gifted children’s services finds that counseling during several stages in the child’s life are well worth the benefits.

 

Parenting a Gifted Child

I have spent a great deal of time consulting with parents of gifted children and meeting with school staff members. Over the years I have learned how to help parents who are concern about three following problems relating to their gifted child:

 

  • How to deal with behavioral or emotional issues
  • Deciding on services and programs to meet the gifted child’s needs
  • Responding to school staff who do not encourage acceleration
  • Building positive relations with school staff
  • Exploring options for gifted services
  • Locating contacts and programs outside of school
  • Implementing effective discipling strategies
  • Guiding improved peer and sibling relationships
  • Teaching skills in organizing, planning ahead, persevering, managing time, completing assignments, and self regulating behavior
  • Motivating the child to work up to their full potential
  • Coping with others’ negative opinions about giftedness
  • Assisting with home or extracurricular learning activities
  • Advocating to see needed services, materials, and programs
  • Obtaining important information to make proper decisions for the gifted child
  • Effectively communicating with staff during school conferences
  • Supporting the gifted child with issues of self esteem associated with feeling “different”
  • Managing uneven development of abilities such as high reading skills and lower fine motor skills with can result in frustration for the gifted child 
  • Balancing the needs of the gifted child and those of the other family members as the compete for attention
  • Building independence and self help skills as the child becomes older
  • Comping with emotions and adjustments associated with the child’s giftedness and behavior 
  • Coping with frustration when the school excluded the gifted child from needed services 
  • Adjusting to the child’s different learning styles, specific learning differences, or a “poor educational fit” 
  • Dealing with bullying

 

All of the above problems are issues that may be solved successfully. Parents do not need to go it alone, since there is help available. Although others can be supportive, you would benefit from professional help to work through the complex realities of having a gifted child. I have many years of experience working with issues my own children presented as well as the hundreds of parents who discussed the concerns that are listed above. The emphasis will be on praise and positive reinforcement and there will be a wide range of strategies employed. Since each child and family is unique, the focus will be tailored to each individual’s needs.