Episode 35: Dąbrowski's Theory in Practice

Chris Wells & Emma Nicholson with guest Patricia Gatto-Walden

Release date: June 5, 2023

In episode 35, Chris and Emma talked with Dr. Patricia Gatto-Walden, a licensed psychologist with offices in Colorado and Florida, USA. Patty applies the theory of positive disintegration in her practice with the highly and profoundly gifted.

Patty studied with Dr. Michael M. Piechowski as a graduate student when he taught at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the late 1970s, and he introduced her to the work of Dąbrowski and Maslow. Years later, they reconnected, became close friends, and worked together as Senior Fellows to help create Yunasa, a camp for gifted children run by the Institute for Educational Advancement.

We learned about Patty’s early work with the profoundly gifted in her role as the Director of Guidance and Counseling at University High School at the University of Illinois. She described falling in love with that population, and she’s worked with PG individuals of all ages ever since. She talked with us about her holistic approach to the gifted, which is the basis of her book, Embracing the Whole Gifted Self. Patty talked with us about the necessity of honoring all five domains of the self: intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social. Patty shared the importance of seeing gifted individuals as whole people and more than their minds.

How can therapists of the gifted serve this population well? Patty shared several ideas on this topic from her own experience. Understanding one’s own levels of giftedness and empathy is critical when working with clients. We learned some of the essentials for clinicians and how they can prepare themselves to be present and grounded in their work.

In the final part of our discussion, Patty talked about the life journey inward toward the Golden Core, or our inner guidance system. Discovering our meaning and purpose in life and facing ourselves courageously are parts of this journey.

Bio: Patricia Gatto-Walden, PhD, a nationally recognized psychologist, has worked therapeutically with moderate, highly and profoundly gifted children, adolescents and adults for over three decades. Her adjunct consulting practice helps parents and
educators recognize innate gifted characteristics, promoting self-confidence, academic and professional success, and holistic health and well-being. Dr. Patty was honored with the Clinician of the Year award by SENG, 2016. She provides world-wide digital teleconferencing and has offices in Colorado and Florida. Her foundational book, Embracing the Whole Gifted Self, personifies giftedness. She conducts teacher in-service trainings, and is a featured presenter at international, national and state gifted conferences. 

Links from this episode:

Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D. (Patty’s website)

Embracing the Whole Gifted Self (Patty’s book)

Yunasa (IEA website)

Piechowski archive (Dąbrowski Center website)

Who Is Michael M. Piechowski? (Substack article by Chris)