Multiple Intelligences (MI) in Counselling for Children

Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor at Harvard University, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in 1983. Dr. Gardner felt that the concept of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, was very limiting. Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences delineates eight (possibly nine) distinct intelligences, each one representing a different way that any individual communicates and learns. These intelligences are:

  • Verbal Linguistic
  • Mathematical Logical
  • Visual Spatial
  • Musical Rhythmic
  • Bodily Kinesthetic
  • Intrapersonal
  • Interpersonal
  • Naturalist Environmental
  • A ninth intelligence (Metaphysical) has been considered, but not yet verified.

The conventional education system is largely based on using Verbal Linguistic and Logical Mathematical intelligence, as it was believed that children predominantly think and learn through written and spoken words, have the ability to memorize facts, respond to written tasks, and enjoy reading.  Introduction of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory in counselling has been fairly recent and it has shown to enhance the effectiveness of counselling.

Use of MI helps the therapist  understand and work with the child’s natural abilities. The therapists incorporate experiential activities in their sessions (based on the child’s abilities, preferences and strengths) that stimulate their different intelligences and skills which are less dominant. Use of MI in therapy helps build the child’s sense of competence, allowing them to communicate and work through issues in a non-threatening and non-oppositional way. Furthermore with the use of MI, the therapist is able to establish a strong alliance with the child, as they often enjoy attending the therapy sessions because of the experience.

Lastly, the therapist is able to help the children be aware of their own learning styles and gain a better understanding of how and why they respond to things and situations. This awareness often contributes to increasing the child’s self esteem and confidence.

Expressive Therapies (Art, Play, Sand etc.) have been found to be a useful way to concretize MI in counselling practice. Expressive Therapies provide experiential activities that tap into intelligences like art, imagery, music, movement, emotional expression, therapeutic writing, relaxation and visualization making it fun for children.

The concept of MI is also applicable to adults and some online tests are available to help individuals discover their own preferred intelligences.

Written by:
Vinti Mittal

MS (Counselling), Grad. Cert (Counselling), PGDCA (Comp Sc), BSc (Hons)
Director, SAC Registered Counsellor

The Procrastination Curse

Procrastination is the act of putting off until tomorrow that which can be done today and is something most of us are familiar with.  The reasons for delaying or even avoiding tasks can be varied such as a more appealing activity, the perception that the task is boring or difficult, prioritizing the needs of others over one’s own, fear of failure or even an unrelenting desire to clean the bathroom or eat cake.

Mild levels of procrastination may cause little harm apart from a mad scramble to complete tasks at the last minute. Habitual procrastination however, can have larger consequences or may be indicative of a more serious issue.  There are commonly documented links between procrastination and depression.  Procrastination, lack of motivation and difficulty making decisions are all symptoms of depression and if persist for a long time should be explored further. Similarly, prolonged procrastination and subsequent consequences can be a contributing factor to the onset of depression. Chronic procrastination can result in a lack of confidence, increased stress, missed opportunities, sleep disturbance, loss of confidence and missed deadlines.

It is common when avoiding a task to engage in activities that would generally be considered as relaxing such as spending time with friends, playing video games or watching Netflix.  However, when tasks are being put off they remain present at the back of your mind preventing full engagement in otherwise relaxing activities and merely providing a short-lived escape with the dread of the task returning once the activity is over.

On the flip side when we tackle procrastination and complete the activities that are required of us or that we have set ourselves, increased feelings of productivity and satisfaction are experienced.  When particularly feared or difficult things are conquered self-confidence and sense of mastery are enhanced.  The following are some tips for beating procrastination and generating greater satisfaction and more opportunities for true down time.

  • Be organised – plan time well and set aside time to complete tasks that you are likely to be put off.  Ensure you have everything required for the task and that you are free of distractions, such as your phone.
  • Be Mindful– notice all the excuses that come into your mind that are designed to stop you from achieving your goal. Then ask yourself how you will feel “if you don’t complete the exercise” and how you feel “if you do complete the task”.
  • Get Support – if you are having trouble with self starting, let someone know your goal and ask them to support you in staying on track. You may also want to enlist a tutor, trainer, mentor or group.  Avoid isolation as this can trigger negative self-talk that is de-motivating.
  • Set realistic goals – if your productivity has been low for a while don’t decide to tackle too much too soon with the risk of failure.
  • Reward Yourself – after achieving your goals reward yourself with an activity that is just for fun.
  • Make a mental note of how you feel every time you accomplish what you have set out to, this can be used as incentive the next time you are tempted to procrastinate.

Written by:

Rachel Upperton
Registered Psychologist                                                                                  SACAC Counselling