Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Theses

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    The counselling needs of parents of children of high intellectual potential (CHIP)
    ALSOP, GLENISON ( 1994)
    The study reported in this dissertation examines the experiences of parents of children of high intellectual potential (CHIP) in their interface with three contexts, those of support networks (family and friends), community resources and education professionals. Its premise is that by comprehending such contextual experiences the need of these parents for counselling support could be better understood. Although the literature associated with families of the intellectually "gifted" abounds with recommendations regarding counselling, the definition and reporting of these needs has been largely anecdotal and inferential. Reporting of clinicians has suggested what are the issues of primary concern. Research evidence has not been collected to substantiate these observations. Furthermore, issues reported as being of primary significance for potential family dysfunction have relied on an interpretation of intra-family dynamics. Counselling literature has largely ignored these families in contextual settings and relationships. Two survey instruments were developed. A questionnaire collected empirical data on parental experiences in relation to assistance and attitudes within support networks, to assistance and attitudes from community resources (including professionals other than those associated with teaching), and to assistance and attitudes in relation to educators. A semi-structured interview schedule was also developed to compile information about how individuals felt about their experiences, and the impact on their sense of competence and confidence as parents of CHIP. A sub-sample of personality data was also collected using the 16PF to relate objective data on personality to subjective inference. Triangulation of data suggested exceedingly negative experiences for parents of CHIP within all three support contexts. Parental responses to these interactions varied. The most damaging was that associated with the educators of their children. The responses of these parents suggested that their experiences had had an adverse effect on them and their sense of competence and personal effectiveness. The 16PF data confirmed the predictable personality of parents who would persist in the negative environment in Victoria. The findings associated with school movement exceeded the State norms by a factor of five. The continuing difficulties faced by this group of parents was further demonstrated in additional movement of children from schools even after the collection of the survey data for the thesis. The findings suggest that there is potential for personal and family dysfunction among this population in situations where the usual support systems and productive relationships with professionals are absent. This study therefore offers strong evidence of the need for counselling support of parents of children of high intellectual potential.