This book incorporates an inclusive representation of women and girls across ages and cultures by examining the intersection of their identities and integrating experiences of women and girls around the world. The overarching themes of the book include an examination of the contextual elements that affect the female experience and a focus on prevention and intervention strategies to support the empowerment of women and girls throughout their life spans. The first section of the book provides a foundation for the book and offers a context for understanding gender socialization and the female experience. This section includes chapters introducing empowerment feminist therapy, gender socialization, intersectionality, and relational-cultural theory. The second section offers detailed information on developmental issues and counseling interventions for women and girls throughout their life spans. Chapters focusing on gender identity development, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and middle and older adulthood are included in this section. The third section provides an in-depth look at specific issues affecting women and girls and includes relevant background information and practical application for counselors. In this concluding section, readers will learn about violence against women and girls, educational and work environments, females and their bodies, and engaging men as allies. Each chapter includes helpful resources to further educate yourself and others, as well as practical suggestions for advocacy efforts that can help create social change. Prevention and empowerment are key themes and foci of the book, and counseling implications and interventions are offered for each area of concentration.
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Michael is a 12-year-old Black male in the seventh grade in a remote rural farm community. He recently relocated to this community from a large metropolitan area, where he was a sixth-grader in a culturally diverse elementary school. He is the oldest of three children with parents who have become pillars in the community despite being new there. Identified as gifted in his previous elementary school, Michael took science and math classes in higher grade levels by single-subject acceleration. He had to work much harder in his language arts classes, but he loved his school and was liked by his peers and teachers.
While Michael’s new school is culturally diverse, the school and community norms for students are different. The emphasis is on community fellowship, service, and helping one’s family. Little is said about college; instead, jobs in agriculture and manufacturing are emphasized. Michael has been invited several times to participate in the 4H club. Upon arriving at his new school, despite providing his previous years’ school records, he is placed in the traditional seventh-grade classes. He complains to his parents that his math and sciences courses are a repeat of information from his previous school. Michael is also encountering difficulties in his language arts classes, which require more traditional essay-writing than his last school did.
In a six-week progress report, Michael’s teachers noted that he seems unengaged and withdrawn in class. His parents believe he has become apathetic about school, and they are worried he might lose his love of math and science. In addition, Michael’s language arts homework frequently leads to anger and frustration at home.
Michael’s parents have requested meetings with his teachers, with the school counselor, Brenda, also attending. Prior to the meeting, she evaluates Michael’s cumulative file. Based on his grades, standardized test scores, and teacher comments, she determines that he is extremely bright and very talented in math and science, but has challenges in language arts and social sciences. His teachers’ comments include “Handwriting continues to be a challenge, but he is working very hard,” “Michael is a very hard worker, but writing paragraphs or persuasive essays requires much more effort,” “He is quick at multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions are okay,” “His reading comprehension is fantastic, but writing brings out frustrations,” and “I realized Michael was much more at ease with oral book reports than written. His love of learning really shines through when he gets to talk about what he knows, in all subjects. He even manages to get his peers interested.”
Brenda makes a phone call to the school counselor at Michael’s former middle school and the elementary school he attended. She hears wonderful things about Michael, as well as about his challenges with written work. Many of his former language-arts teachers allowed Michael to demonstrate his mastery of content and skills orally or via multiple choice or computerized testing. The middle school counselor reported that he and Michael’s parents had discussed talking to their school psychologist about more testing for Michael because they were concerned about the increased requirements for writing in middle school. But that conversation did not lead to changes before the end of the school year, when Michael’s family moved.
Despite the attention paid to diversity and inclusiveness, counselor education programs often overlook the gifted population, resulting in a training gap that complicates school counselors' awareness of—and ability to appropriately respond to—the unique needs of gifted individuals. This book is a complete handbook for understanding and meeting the needs of gifted students and is most useful to counselor educators, school counselors, and parents. It is mostly to inform school counselors and counselor educators about gifted kids as a special population and to offer guidance for responding with appropriate counseling services. The book is organized into thirteen chapters. The first chapter provides an overview on counseling gifted and talented students. The second chapter talks about aligning service to gifted students with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) national model. The next two chapters discuss the characteristics and concerns of gifted students, and intersectionality of cultures in diverse gifted students. Chapter five presents theories that support programs and services in schools. Chapter six describes the common practices and best practices in identifying gifted and talented learners in schools. Chapter seven examines working with classrooms and small groups. Chapter eight focuses on academic advising and career planning for gifted and talented students. Chapter nine addresses personal/social counseling and mental health concerns. Chapters ten and eleven talks about creating a supportive school climate for gifted students through collaboration, consultation, and systemic change, and empowering parents of gifted students. Chapter twelve presents school counselors as leaders and advocates for gifted students. The final chapter provides brief summaries of the above chapters described in the book.
In a rural school district, Abby is responsible for creating and delivering gifted-education programming across all school levels. She wants to develop a comprehensive K–12 affective curriculum for it. Though the majority of students are from middle-class families, others come from families that are struggling economically due to unemployment, military deployment, parental incarceration, single parenting, and addictions. Teachers and administrators are concerned about student well-being. Bullying has been a school concern, and the community has been shocked by three student suicides among the “best and brightest” over the past 2 years. Abby believes that attention to the social and emotional development of gifted students during all school years might make a difference. She wants to collaborate with Jack, the one K–12 school counselor, in possibly cofacilitating two proactive small discussion groups of gifted students. She wants to observe his listening and responding skills and share information with him about giftedness. In the past, Jack has not thought of organizing small groups for gifted students, but agrees to the collaboration. He says they should conduct a needs assessment among students identified as gifted and organize a group of high achievers around a common concern, such as bullying or bereavement—an approach he used in the past with the general population. Abby has something different in mind, but is hesitant to advocate for her view, since group work is in Jack’s “territory.” After she learns some skills from Jack, she wants all identified students to have a small-group experience at some point. She also understands that programming should address needs of more than just high achievers, including highly intelligent academic underachievers, who currently are not viewed as eligible for it. Abby needs to have a clear rationale for both the group format and mixing achievers and underachievers in the groups before she talks with the counselor again.
Samantha has been the middle school counselor in a small rural district in the Midwest for the past 3 years. She has spent most of her time in program development and building relationships with students, parents, staff, and community partners. Currently, she is working with community and district administrators to increase access to Internet and other technology in her building for more program options; unfortunately, the district’s increasingly tight budget precludes upgrades to current systems. As the academic year comes to a close, she talks with Rachel, a veteran teacher with considerable experience in differentiation. Rachel is concerned about some of her math students. By year’s end, due to her differentiated curriculum, at least seven will have completed Algebra 1, the most advanced math class at the school. Rachel wonders what can be planned for them for next year. A few parents have expressed concerns about future classes as these students progress. She asks to meet with Samantha about this situation.
An experienced, progressive superintendent is new to a large school district, and at her first meeting with all teachers, she describes ambitious goals, one of which is to reconceptualize and reorganize the program for gifted students. She wisely does not speak negatively of the present program; instead, she explains that an administrative transition is simply an opportunity to look at existing programs. Regarding gifted education, she wants to examine current thought in the field about giftedness, what residents in the district think about those perspectives, whether criteria used for identification of eligible students in the district match the programming offered, which programming models are available, which kinds of goals might be appropriate for local programming, which community resources might supplement and enhance programming, and whether the “whole” gifted child is adequately attended to.
The district she left had experienced individual and family tragedies and disturbing student behavior in recent years involving gifted scholars, gifted athletes, gifted musicians, gifted visual artists, gifted leaders, and gifted underachievers. She says she has already begun her own personal exploration of pertinent literature, and she wants the district to be proactive and strategic regarding preventing poor outcomes for gifted and talented students—at all school levels, beginning at the elementary level. She promises to organize a task force of representative classroom teachers, school counselors, gifted-education personnel, parents, and possibly students to study pertinent literature, explore various models, and make recommendations. She encourages individuals interested in being on the task force to contact her.
Ben, a middle school counselor, immediately expresses interest. He has been frustrated with not being able to connect adequately with some gifted students who have concerns—both high and low achievers. He was always a high achiever himself, but he has realized that gifted students are highly idiosyncratic, with many not fitting common stereotypes. He wants to understand them better and help them understand themselves better as well. He is glad the superintendent seems interested in their well-being, not just their academic performance.
Ben suspects there are many counseling needs in this population, but he has never heard a local or state counseling peer refer to these needs at professional meetings. He also has wondered about the identification process and the fit of his most complicated gifted counselees with the current programming. In fact, he has met with brilliant thinkers who have not been deemed eligible and assumes that learning disabilities affect the test scores used for screening. Last, since he has worked with a number of referred gifted underachievers, he has wondered which kind of program would engage them in school and academics—and even whether academic achievement should be the sole goal.
Ben believes that being on the task force, if he is selected, will be informative and helpful as he considers how to be more effective with this special population. In fact, he is selected. The superintendent is wise to include a counselor on the task force.
Tosha and Erik are the two school counselors in a large suburban elementary school. For 5 years, they have worked to create a school counseling program aligned with their state’s framework, which was developed with the
ASCANational Model in mind. This year, they are hosting a school counseling intern, Tony, from a program in the school of education at a local university. Although the school counselors are grateful to have an intern with fresh eyes and new ideas, they wonder whether the supervision will require too much time and divert their attention from the report they must write prior to a visit by the state department of education later in the year. At the initial interview, Tosha and Erik learn that because Tony had already had several education classes, his program advisor suggested that he take some electives in areas of interest. During his student-teaching experience, he had been intrigued by creative and artistic students and therefore opted to take a few courses in gifted education. He is excited to be working with Tosha and Eric and wants to know if he might work with gifted students and find out how the gifted-education program is currently serving them.
This concluding chapter presents brief summaries of the chapters of the book. The chapters in the book have covered a wide range of theories, concerns, and perspectives. Chapter content has implications for policy and practice. School professionals can incorporate the information and recommendations in them into their current services to ensure that gifted students receive needed support. School counselors respond every day to students who feel different, perhaps painfully different, from those around them—at home, at school, or in the community. Those counselors are distinguished in the school context by rare skills and perspectives that can be used to help gifted students make sense of themselves, value their differentness, and embrace their complex feelings and sometimes perplexing behaviors. Change can happen in either direction because of life events or circumstances. Moving out of impasse and accomplishing developmental tasks can contribute to increased motivation for underachievers.
- Go to chapter: Identifying Gifted and Talented Learners in Schools: Common Practices and Best Practices
Ben, the middle school counselor from Chapter 5, continues to work with the district’s task force. There, he also meets Julie the district’s coordinator of gifted and talented services. Based on the superintendent’s concerns, Julie wants to re-imagine the district’s identification and programming for gifted youth. Ben’s experiences have given Julie new insights into potential roles of school counselors when working with high-ability learners and their parents. Julie was particularly drawn to Ben’s discussions of talking with parents about why their students were not identified. Ben’s frustrations with the gifted services have also included the pervasive mythology that the program is a “cookie” program used as a reward for “good” students with “good” behavior and even better grades—a myth that disenfranchises diverse populations in the school district, including underachieving students, and doesn’t accurately identity those students who may need services. Historically, because the district has implemented identification procedures in third grade, Julie has contacted several of the elementary school counselors in her district to get their perspectives. She is surprised by the range of their knowledge about identification and the degree of the school counselors’ involvement in this process. While Ben has informed her that all practicing school counselors have training in testing and assessment, not all have connected this with identification practices for gifted learners—until they meet with their first parent.
School counselors collaborate, consult, and coordinate resources. They partner with community agencies, empower parents and families, advocate for students, and are probably part of the leadership team in their schools. Every day school counselors probably make lists of tasks that must be accomplished and then prioritize those according to level of urgency. When prioritizing student needs, the needs of gifted students may not rise to the top in the mind of the school counselor. Most educators equate "gifted" with high-achieving, perfectionistic, perhaps slightly eccentric students who have helicopter parents. School counselors work with gifted students regularly. These students come with a variety of different concerns ranging from typical developmental needs to mental health concerns that warrant immediate attention and service. While gifted students are no more or less likely to experience concerns tied to mental health, they do experience the world differently by nature of being gifted.