Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

Medication and Counseling Histories of Gifted Students in a Summer Residental Program

Academic journal article Journal of Secondary Gifted Education

Medication and Counseling Histories of Gifted Students in a Summer Residental Program

Article excerpt

Many gifted students are served through special programming. However, little large-scale information is available regarding the incidence of psychological disorders, medication requirements, and counseling histories in that population. This type of information is important to ensuring the well-being of gifted students, particularly those served through residential programming. This study reports the results of a review of medical information forms for over 1,900 gifted 8th-11th graders participating in a 3-week residential academic programs. Rates of diagnosed psychological disorders, medication prescriptions, and counseling needs are presented. In general, this sample reported low rates of psychological disorders, medication use, and counseling. Results are discussed in terms of program development and program policy issues.


This special issue of The Journal of Secondary and Gifted Education dedicated to counseling of gifted adolescents and young adults underscores the importance of the social/emotional and behavioral characteristics of gifted youth. This issue also speaks to the need of practitioners, such as administrators of gifted programs and teachers of the gifted, to obtain accurate information regarding the social/emotional characteristics of gifted adolescents. This information is important for making staffing and programming decisions, such as deciding whether and what sort of counseling services might be appropriate within a residential or school-based gifted program. The current investigation examined the prevalence of diagnosed mental health concerns and treatments among participants of a university-based summer residential gifted program.

Social/Emotional Functioning of Gifted Students

Research in the area of social/emotional functioning of gifted and talented students stems from the early work of Terman (1925) and Hollingworth (1926). Terman reported that his gifted sample exhibited lower levels of mental illness and adjustment problems and was psychologically and socially more stable than nongifted peers. Conversely, Hollingworth found evidence of social and emotional concerns and interpersonal problems among the gifted sample she studied.

Others have continued to investigate the social/emotional characteristics and accompanying behavioral difficulties of gifted students through research and clinical practice (Colangelo & Assouline, 2000; Cornell, Delcourt, Bland, Goldberg, & Oram, 1994; Gallucci, 1988; Gallucci, Middleton, & Kline, 1999a, 1999b; Garland & Zigler, 1999; Grossberg & Cornell, 1988; Kaufmann & Castellanos, 2000; Nail & Evans, 1997; Oram, Cornell, & Rutemiller, 1995; Parker, 1996; Reynolds & Bradley, 1983). Some authors have described greater vulnerability of gifted students to social/emotional difficulties (Janos & Robinson, 1985; Pfeiffer & Stocking, 2000), while others have suggested that gifted students suffer from social/emotional problems at rates similar to those in the general adolescent population (Coleman & Cross, 2001; Neihart, 1999; Robinson & Noble, 1993; Webb, 1993). Despite evidence to the contrary, gifted students are often subjected to stereotypes and persistent myths about the mental health and social characterist ics related to their giftedness, such as the notions that "gifted and talented people tend to be mentally unstable" or "gifted and talented people tend to be odd" (Sellin & Birch, as cited in Coleman & Cross, p. 5).

Gifted children and adolescents experience the same developmental stages and developmental tasks as their nongifted peers (Robinson & Noble, 1993; Webb, 1993). They may also experience additional stressors or issues associated with giftedness, including, but nor limited to, inappropriate educational programming, asynchronies in development, difficulty in finding compatible friends, identity development, and potential conflicts between balancing acceptance in a social group and fulfillment of academic talent (Colangelo & Assouline, 2000; Coleman & Cross, 2001; Fiedler, 1999; Hebert Long, & Neumeister, 2001; Meckstroth, 1991; Neihart, 1998; Robinson & Noble). …

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