Your Rainforest Mind

Support for the Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

Your Rainforest Mind — The January 2021 Interview (with French subtitles!)


I was interviewed for this online conference in France on neurodiversity, January 2021. I shared some of my background as a middle school teacher of gifted children, what therapists need to know about gifted clients, typical issues clients bring to consultations such as multipotentiality and perfectionism, and more. It is about an hour long. Interviewers were the French writer Alban Bourdy and Swiss executive coach Christine Leclerc-Sherling. (Merci!) I am introduced in French but the rest of the interview is in English, with subtitles.


To my bloggEEs: What are your thoughts, feelings, and questions? You know your comments add so much to my blog. Thank you, as always, for being here. Much love to you. And, again, thank you Alban and Christine, for inviting me to this conference and for your thoughtful questions.

Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rainforest to describe this population. Like the rainforest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists, was released in June 2019.

14 thoughts on “Your Rainforest Mind — The January 2021 Interview (with French subtitles!)

  1. I found your remark that gifted kids cope with trauma differently enlightening. But it makes sense. We know intelligence to be a protective factor. So it could be expected that the trauma would morph differently. I recently encountered this description of perfectly hidden depression, which looks a lot like trauma + giftedness to me (at least in sample of one…)

    Ah yes, I have a visceral reaction to CBT. So condescending – as if I didn’t know about these cognitive distorsions. Many therapists don’t seem to acknowledge how much self-management already goes into fending off the cognitive distorsions, and don’t validate how much exhaustion already goes into that constant internal fight and self-management. Besides, with too much self-management, CBT ends up just repressing thoughts deeper, i.e. the opposite of the intended result.

    I am surprised that the facilitators did not mention to you that in France gifted people are referred to as “zebras” for the same reason – no judgment, no stigma, looks like a horse, but different.

    Thanks for the sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • They didn’t mention the zebras in the interview but I have heard that used. I think other presenters at the conference talked about it. Thank you for the link, CelileN. Good to hear from you.


  2. Brilliant interview, I thoroughly enjoyed this! Wish it had been longer but you managed to address so many interesting traits of the rainforest mind so thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful, Paula!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy your blog and this interview.

    It is difficult to find a therapist that will take on a client who is under the age of 18. It is also very difficult to find a therapist that understands the complexities, sensitivities, etc. of being a young gifted person.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a great interview. You understand the origins of so many of us, what it was like for us. Listening to your comments and remembering my routine childhood day, brings back a lot of sadness. Everything you said was so true for me. I knew my parents were not being good people, especially my mother; but I never thought of it as my fault. Although I did learn to try to make everyone happy in life, which meant always helping, always listening to others, always getting perfect grades etc. Anything to help calm people down, make them smile. Anything I could think of to do that would make others stop being so angry and hateful. Always keeping myself in the background and trying to do things that made other people happy. Needless to say I grew up one very depressed human with zero sense of self-worth. Life was all about making others happy, then they wouldn’t be angry, or disappointed or sad or whatever.

    It took 60+ years to stumble here and find out I’m a glorious, quintessential RFM; now I just desperately wish I could work with a psychologist who understands me. I am so very tired of trying to figure everything out on my own, and of always having to be strong. (Can you tell I’m having a rare boo-hoo pity party morning; which accomplishes little, so enough of that!)

    Closest professional who works with RFM types is a 4-hour drive and I’m seriously thinking of trying to make the pilgramage once a week….. but there still stubbornly refuse to be 124 hours in this planet’s day.
    Thank you so very much for being here for us Paula; you help so many of us just by being here.
    And I know I’m not the only one who finds great comfort in hearing from others on here….. is there any sort of universe out there where RFMs can strike up friendships via semi-mindless general blogging about life and it’s many topics?
    Hugs to all you talented souls; we are the very best of humankind; we just have to keep at the puzzle until we all bloom radiantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Paula! Taking a real look at your blog and watched this video – thank you – the topics you presented are so very interesting. I was wondering, would you say that it is probable to have a highly intelligent HSP who is not rainforest mind? Or rather is it that not all HSPs are rainforest minds, but all rainforest minds are HSPs, of course to the varying degrees of giftedness you briefly mentioned? Also, you spoke about childhood trauma and a somewhat innate resilience that RFM have. That segment in addition to some other things mentioned caused me to wonder: in your practice do you see any difference (not necessarily related to resilience, but potentially) in RFM who are extraverted instead of introverted or vice versa? Thank you so much for the opportunity to ask questions! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You got it, Kay. You can be an HSP without a RFM. But all RFMs are HSPs!! The issue around trauma and resilience is complex and so what I say in the interview is too brief. I’m just speaking from my sample of clients so I can’t speak generally. About extraverts (extroverts?? how is it spelled?). I haven’t seen a difference between them and introverts when it comes to trauma really. It’s a good question. So I don’t know the answer. I have seen that it can be harder for extroverts when it comes to the loneliness of RFMs. But that may be obvious. Glad you are reading more of my blog!


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