Are You A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
Have your feelings become so powerful that they’re unbearable or seemingly beyond your control?
Are you tired of being told that you’re too sensitive, too emotional, and that you care too much?
You may describe yourself as a “deep feeler,” empath, or introvert. Rarely able to tune out your sensitivities to environmental stimuli—bright lights, pungent smells, and loud noises—or other people, you probably feel exhausted by simply existing. You may require a lot of alone time to recharge, and it’s possible you feel like something is fundamentally different about your experience of the world.
HSPs are more likely to develop anxiety and perfectionist tendencies. Maybe you’re particularly sensitive to criticism or prone to fixate on past mistakes. In one moment, you can feel extreme joy and excitement before being equally overcome with intense feelings of sadness and disappointment. Because everyday surroundings and situations are so often overwhelming, you may have turned to alcohol and drug use, overeating, self-harm, or other numbing behaviors to help you manage your emotions.
Of course, being empathetic and aware of your surroundings is not always a bad thing, and your sensitivity has likely added richness and complexity to your life. However, living on such high alert can be tiring. And when your emotions become so intense that they feel unbearable, it’s important to seek support and new strategies for coping.
Fortunately, I am a therapist who specializes in HSPs. With my experience and perspective, we can work together to help you feel more in control.
HSPs Are Common And Should Be Celebrated For Their Strengths
High sensitivity is not a disorder or condition—rather, it is a personality trait that is closely related to sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS). HSP expert and author of The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aron, estimates that upwards of 20 percent of the population are highly sensitive. She strongly believes that highly sensitive personalities aren’t something to “cure.” Instead, they should be used to foster deeper self-awareness and understanding so that HSPs can thrive in their emotions and not feel bogged down by them.
Dr. Aron and other HSP researchers speculate that genetics are likely at play in the formation of highly sensitive personalities but that early childhood environments are probably the most influential factor. There is evidence to suggest that both factors are at play in HSPs, in that early experiences might have an effect on the genes associated with sensitivity.
Women Are More Likely To Develop Highly Sensitive Personalities
In addition to genetic predisposition and childhood experiences, there is something to be said about the gendered aspects of highly sensitive personalities. Statistically speaking, women are more likely to be HSPs, and many HSP traits strongly correlate with common emotional experiences shared by women.
For those of us who cried a lot as children or were told that we were too quiet and too sensitive, we internalized conflicting messages. As women, we’re conditioned to be more emotionally aware while also being told that feeling deeply and being sensitive to criticism is a character flaw. It can be hard to appreciate when our feelings are serving us and when they’re just making life more stressful and taxing.
Yet, surprisingly, the concept of a “Highly Sensitive Person” is still very new to the vast majority of my clients. Many women come to counseling thinking that they are fundamentally different from everyone else or that something is wrong with their approach to the world when in reality they are just an HSP who requires unique treatment.
Together in HSP counseling, I can help you understand yourself better, accept and embrace your sensitivity, and improve your ability to cope.
Therapy That Honors Your Outlook And Perspectives As An HSP
If you’ve regularly heard the message that your emotions are too much, you may be hesitant to explore and discuss them. But as your therapist, I will listen without judgment, collaborate with you on identifying your strengths, and give you an opportunity to celebrate your HSP traits. By embracing the thought patterns that serve you—and learning to change the ones that don’t—you can live a more affirming and satisfying life.
My Approach As An HSP Therapist
In our first session together, I will ask questions about your history, background, and therapy objectives, which will likely lead to a discussion about how being an HSP has impacted your everyday life and relationships. Building a trusted, safe connection is the most essential aspect of counseling, so we will use initial sessions to create a strong therapist-client relationship.
Because the therapeutic process is grounded in dialogue, counseling offers you the rare opportunity to talk openly about your emotions with an objective, neutral professional who can provide insight into your personality as an HSP. With my customized blend of traditional psychotherapy and behavioral methods—including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)—you can learn to work with your sensitivity so that living as an HSP is not so overwhelming and draining.
Therapy for HSPs will allow you to explore your innate gifts and learn to optimize your environment so that you can manage stress. By leveraging your sensitivity in its many forms, you can use your HSP personality to your benefit, ultimately resulting in improved executive functioning, mental health, relationships, and career accomplishments. And as you develop vital mindfulness practices, you’ll be able to identify when sensitivity is increasing so that you can cope and manage better.
Being an HSP is a strength—not a weakness—and in therapy, you can learn to harness your personality to have a satisfying experience of the world. When you can see and celebrate yourself with more clarity, you’ll be able to observe the many ways that sensitivity can serve you.
Maybe You’re Considering Counseling As An HSP But Still Not Sure If It’s Right For You…
Therapy will just make me feel worse about my HSP traits.
Therapy can be difficult because self-understanding and improvement are complicated. However, counseling is a journey of navigating discomfort to find comfort.
As you begin to take a closer look at yourself and your HSP personality, you can make connections between your past and present that will help you change your responses in the future. I am confident that the right therapist can help you create and actively work towards goals that will make life more enjoyable.
Why go to a therapist when I can just talk to my friends about being an HSP?
Having strong support systems is essential, and it’s important that you feel comfortable talking to your friends in times of need. However, even the best of friends aren’t trained professionals, and they may not have the experience to help you navigate certain problems.
A clinically trained therapist who specializes in HSPs has the specific knowledge and skills you need to thrive. As a professional clinician, I can provide nonjudgmental and objective feedback in ways that friends who are emotionally invested in your life cannot. And unlike friendship, the therapist-client relationship is not about give-and-take—it’s a one-way street designed to support your needs and your needs alone. Not to mention, this process is bound by confidentiality, which is not the case among friends.
I don’t have time for therapy.
It’s important that you make time to find the support you need as an HSP in counseling. As such, I aim to make my services flexible and accessible to all clients. I will work with your scheduling preferences to ensure that therapy accommodates your needs. And because I conduct all sessions online, you don’t have to worry about added commute time.
Harness The Strength Of Your Emotions
If your emotions often overwhelm you or you think you might be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), therapy can help you embrace your sensitivities and celebrate your strengths. For more information, you can schedule a free consultation via email or by visiting my contact page.