Episode 27: Through the Neurodivergent Mirror

Chris Wells & Emma Nicholson with guest Tracy Winter

Release date: January 29, 2023

In episode 27, Chris and Emma were joined by Dr. Tracy Winter, an ICF-credentialed coach with a PhD in Human Development. In her coaching practice, she works with neurodivergent adults and specializes in the gifted / 2e population. We talked about Tracy’s dissertation research on gifted adults “being seen,” where most of her participants fell into two groups: they were not seen as gifted, or they were mis-seen in a way that was not aligned with their self-perceptions.

We discuss the importance of “mirroring”—finding yourself reflected in others—and the loneliness that can happen when we are not seen for our authentic selves, even when we have a support network around us. Tracy holds up a “flat mirror” with clients to help them see themselves accurately, and we talk about how devastating it feels when neurodivergent and gifted people only see ourselves in a distorted “funhouse mirror” if they cannot find people like themselves to connect with.

Tracy talks to us about overexcitability in neurodivergent clients, and what it’s like to work with the Theory of Positive Disintegration in her practice. She shares other developmental models she finds helpful, including Kegan’s Subject-Object Theory of Development and Cook-Greuter's Constructive Developmental Theory in her work, along with classic theorists such as Erikson.

We talk about the difference between a coach and a therapist, what you can expect from an ICF-certified coach, and the importance of an authentic relationships in both clinical work and coaching. We also discuss the activation of dynamisms in clients, and the benefits and pitfalls of nudging someone into disintegration, and the importance of “meeting people where they are” when talking about experiencing a disintegration—whether that be with a client or with a loved one in a relationship.

Bio: Tracy Winter specializes in coaching neurodiverse and twice-exceptional clients who are gifted and ADHD, as well as executives and leaders grappling with ADHD-related challenges. In addition to her coaching, Tracy also works with students through Rice University's Doerr Leadership Institute and serves as an ADHD coach trainer and mentor coach at the International ADHD Coach Training Center (iACT). She is credentialed as a PCC by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and facilitates leadership development for Tesla and other companies.​ She is also a Co-Founder of the Neurodiversity Coaching Academy. Tracy's background is expansive and multi-faceted, which serves her well in coaching high achievers with ADHD. Prior to becoming an ADHD coach, Tracy worked as a legislative researcher, a legal editor and writer, an adjunct professor, as well as a professional musical theater dancer. She received a PhD in Human Development, an MA in Human and Organization Systems, along with BA degrees in International Relations and Political Economy.

Links from this episode:

Nerd Coach (Tracy’s Website)

Neurodiversity Coaching Academy

Download Tracy’s dissertation from the Media tab of her website

Tracy on LinkedIn

Tracy’s episode on Unleash Monday

Emma’s Triangle of Loneliness video

Chris’s paper on the Inner Experience of Giftedness [PDF download]