Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling Is Personal Counseling: A Constructivist Approach to Nurturing the Development of Gifted Female Adolescents

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Career Counseling Is Personal Counseling: A Constructivist Approach to Nurturing the Development of Gifted Female Adolescents

Article excerpt

Gifted individuals face many concerns when contemplating their futures. Often hindered by career indecision; perfectionism; and multiple personal, familial, and societal pressures, some gifted young people flounder when they have the ability to flourish. Many counselors and educators trust that a wealth of talents will propel these adolescents to automatic life success, and the unique needs of this population can go unmet. This article considers the complexity of challenges facing gifted young women, presents current and potential interventions, and encourages integrating developmental and constructnist theories with objectivist techniques. Implications for practitioners and future research suggestions are highlighted.

Gifted students exhibiting multipotentiality frequently receive the social messages that decree they can "have it all" and "be anything" they want to be. These seemingly encouraging dicta can discourage and overwhelm some gifted individuals, especially if compounded by an internalized notion that they should also be "the best" at whatever they choose. Parents and educators alike may mistakenly presume that these students will excel in life based on their talents alone. In schools especially, nonacademic needs receive only nominal attention (Fredrickson, 1986; Kelly, 1996; Mitchell, Levin, & Krumboltz, 1999; Perrone, 1997), and this population is likely to be ill-served (Robinson, 2002) or underserved in counseling contexts (Ambrose, Allen, & Huntley, 1994; Kerr & Ghrist-Priebe, 1988). Plainly, gifted students as a whole do not receive their fair share of attention (Colangelo, 2002). Sometimes counselors fail to recognize that blessings can become a curse for these individuals, and without essential guidance and support, gifted students are at risk to underachieve, overextend, and succumb to personal and societal pressures. Gifted girls seem to be especially vulnerable. Despite some progress, as an aggregate, they still lag behind their male counterparts in occupational status and achievement (Arnold, 1993; Kaufmann, 1981; Kerr, 1985) and attainment of traditional preeminence (Callahan, Cunningham, & Plucker, 1994; Reis, 1998). Frequently, they become "adult underachievers" (Reis & Callahan, 1989, p. 102), which may have profound consequences for their self-concept, their health, and their future.

The American achievement ideology can exacerbate this phenomenon (Ford & Harris, 1992 ). Gifted students, who subscribe to the belief that hard work always pays off and later fail to meet their personal or familial expectations, may criticize themselves as lazy, feel guilty, or discount their talents. Plus, the ethos of achievement in American culture often presses young students to achieve, achieve, achieve with little time to reflect or to develop motivation beyond accruing accomplishments that others deem worthy. On the other hand, gifted students may underachieve out of boredom, fear of failure or success, or perceived social repercussions (Kaplan & Geoffroy, 1993). To combat "achievement for achievement's sake," thwart overextension, eradicate disappointments accompanying underachievement, and prevent mental health problems, an integration of developmental and constructivist approaches, using positivistic techniques, may be warranted in the career and life education of gifted young women.

Although growing in general, literature aimed directly at the gifted adolescent population is sparse (Leung, 1998; Noble, 1992). Likewise, mounting interest in constructivism as a career theory has not permeated this arena yet. Thus, an examination of the characteristics of gifted female adolescents, a consideration of integrating constructivist and developmental theories, and a presentation of the potential utility of interventions that fit into this theoretical context follow and suggest that career counseling is a crucial mechanism in meeting the distinct needs of this population. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.