Gifted Adolescents

Do you recognize some or all of the following characteristics in your teenager?

  • gifted
  • talented
  • creative
  • asynchronous (very advanced in some areas but not in others)
  • overexciteable
  • twice exceptional (gifted + learning disability or other challenge)
  • highly sensitive
  • intense
  • quirky

Is your teenager experiencing some or all of the things below?

  • perfectionism
  • high anxiety
  • loneliness
  • disorganization
  • job frustration
  • serial relationships
  • self-criticism
  • defiance
  • cravings for intensity that you can’t figure out how to meet
  • existential dread/angst/apathy/etc.

You've come to the right place.



If you’re the parent of a gifted adolescent, some of this will sound very familiar!

She rolls her eyes when you talk about living up to her potential.

He is impatient, frustrated, and bored.

You know your teenager is off-the-charts smart, and you just can’t understand why she seems anxious, angry, hypercritical, or apathetic. You know that he is extremely intelligent and loaded with talent, but he insists that he’s stupid and won’t make it in the world. You’ve tried praise, and you’ve tried punishment.

You and your teenager agree that you don’t want things to keep going like this. And it doesn’t have to.

Gifted adolescents are poised to excel, and paying attention to their social and emotional development alongside academics is critical. These young people can otherwise be at risk for school problems, self-esteem issues, perfectionism, and the feeling that they don’t belong. They’re too often wrongly diagnosed and pathologized by systems that don’t understand them.

Adolescence is a time of rampant growth. Adolescence for the intellectually gifted teen is simplified in some ways and complicated in others. The pressure to succeed can be motivating… and suffocating. Building an identity around school-smarts can lead to fears of not being as smart as people think they are. Teens’ high IQs can result in an acute awareness of the shortcomings of the systems, culture, and people around them. Confusion, frustration, and high anxiety can come of it.

Read My Letter To Your Teenager

Read My Letter To Parents

The mother of a teenage client offered this:

My oldest son is extremely intelligent. Off the charts really. This created many problems with teachers, counselors, and everyone involved in his life. It was only when we began working with Gordon Smith that I found hope that he would be able to pull it together and be successful in life. Gordon was able to connect with him, to understand him, and to help him heal and find his voice. 

Intellectually gifted teens can be incredibly creative, witty, and analytical. They think fast, sometimes faster than their parents. And for a lot of teens, those strengths are turned into weaknesses by the world around them.

For the teen who isn’t understood and empowered, his creative problem-solving is cast as non-compliance or disobedience. Her critical thinking skills are rejected as oppositional and disrespectful. His quick mental processing is seen as impatience or attention deficit. Adventurous natures are seen as irresponsible and dangerous. Sensitivity to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of those around them is seen as moodiness.

I went through some extremely difficult experiences with him. His behavior became unmanageable, and I was at my wits end. His grades dropped. His behavior worsened. He became very unhappy. I can gladly say that my son is now very successful as an adult. I cannot imagine how we would’ve succeeded without Gordon’s help. I recommend him highly.

Counseling is especially powerful for intellectually gifted teens because they are extremely resilient, and they rapidly comprehend the opportunity offered by a therapist who is there to understand and empower them.

That’s what I do – Identify teens’ strengths and families’ strengths; Build trust and understanding; and empower people to become the people they want to be.

Counseling offers you and your teens the chance to be heard. I have seventeen years of experience working with adolescents and their families to find their way forward. I’ve seen young people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder grow through counseling into relaxed, self-assured young adults.

If you haven’t had intellectual testing done with your teenager, I can refer you to the best in town. If you haven’t had good experiences with past counselors, I can promise you a different experience.

I tried rewards systems, natural consequences, numerous counselors (most of whom he simply outsmarted), special diets, doctors, lots of sports, acupuncture, medications, and every possible route to find help and support for him. I’m deeply grateful that we were able to work with Gordon. His intelligence, understanding, compassion, and deep dedication to his field is invaluable.

I'm Ready To Help

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