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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

What Does High Intelligence Have to Do with Therapy?

In my art therapy private practice, I specialize in highly intelligent women with overwhelming emotions and thoughts.

So what does high intelligence have to do with therapy or mental wellbeing?

While high intelligence has its many benefits, it also poses a unique set of challenges.

Individuals who are highly intelligent often feel they “should” be doing more for the world because they are “gifted.” They face an unusually high amount of self-pressure, as well as pressure from family, friends, and colleagues to “reach their potential”and contribute to the world.

I frequently work with clients who are facing deep existential questions, such as what is the purpose of their life, how do they derive meaning, and what substianties worth.

A mandala marker of three main layers and black and white designs.
"Multi-Capable" Marker by Jackie Schuld

Highly intelligent individuals are often multi-passionate and multi-capable. Since they are interested in many things and could pursue many things, they often experience difficulty discerning career choices and how to best use their time (I explore this further in my essay When You’re Multi-Passionate and Multi-Capable).

Highly intelligent people are often painfully aware of everything they “should be doing.” I’ve frequently heard my clients say, “I know better, but don’t do better.” They experience a particularly high level of anxiety, rumination, and shame about the gap between what they think should do and what they actually do.

Much of this is due to their often complicated relationship with their own emotions. They frequently honor their logic above their emotions, leading to a severed connection with their intuition, wants, and needs. When we work together in therapy, much of our work focuses on reframing emotions as valuable messengers of important underlying human needs.

Highly intelligent people also frequently experience difficulty connecting with others, and thus feel lonely, ostracized, or “othered.” This is similar to other forms of neurodiversity (such as autism), where a neurodivergent individual struggles to feel seen, heard, and understood by neurotypical individuals.

These are just some of the topics that frequently come up with highly intelligent individuals. They are unique challenges, and most highly intelligent clients who come to therapy express deep shame that they are struggling. They see others who “have it worse” and feel like they should be able to solve all of their own problems due to their intelligence. This in itself is another example of a unique challenge that highly intelligent individuals face.

An individual does not need to have a mental health diagnosis or something “mentally wrong” with them to go to therapy. I view therapy as a place to figure out how to live your fullest in a very demanding world. Anyone who wants to improve the quality of their life can benefit from therapy, including those who are highly intelligent.


Thank you for reading, if you are interested in therapy for highly intelligent individuals, you may schedule a consultation here.


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