Highly Sensitive Person

Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a personality trait characterized by a high level of sensitivity to external stimuli. A person with a particularly high measure of SPS is considered to be a highly sensitive person.  A highly sensitive person experiences the world differently than others. Due to a biological difference that they’re born with, highly sensitive people have a greater depth of cognitive processing and high emotional reactivity. This can have both positive and negative implications. Highly sensitive people tend to be more empathetic, creative and insightful, but are also more easily overwhelmed and stress prone. They may “feel too deeply” or “feel too much.” If you think you may be a highly sensitive person and are having trouble managing on your own, a qualified mental health professional can help to teach you emotional and sensory immunity strategies. Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s highly sensitive person experts today.

Meet the specialists


I am an HSP having learned this about myself at the age of 47. It was life-changing. I am listed as an HSP Knowledgable therapist on the Highly Sensitive Person's website.

— Vicki Quarles, in Louisville, CO

Emotional sensitivity can seem like a curse to those of us who feel deeply. It often leads to experiencing intense emotions and difficulty coming back to neutral. Through my training and experiences, I have learned that emotional sensitivity is a strength. Highly sensitive people feel intensely; therefore, they are passionate about what is meaningful to them and inspire others to care deeply too. Acceptance of feelings as valid and learning to respond differently is the goal.

— Paola Granados-Radlick, Clinical Psychologist in Miami, FL

As a sensitive, myself, I have learned to work with my energy system to balance and restore it, recognize its warning flags, and keep my energies humming. Energy medicine techniques, clearing non-self energy, releasing energetic impacts from others, learning to discern what is yours from what belongs to another, and developing healthy emotional and energetic boundaries are specialties of mine. Rather than seeing your sensitivity as a problem. you can learn to recognize it as a valuable tool.

— Lisa Love, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Brunswick, ME

If you've always been told "you're too sensitive," I can definitely relate. Sometimes you just want to scream at the world, "YOU'RE NOT SENSITIVE ENOUGH!" I promise, there is a way to strike a balance. I can help you identify, understand, and communicate your emotions in a healthy way. There are tools I can teach you to manage moments in life when you feel like you're about to fall apart or when it feels like no one else understands. Being sensitive doesn't have to be a burden, it can be a gift.

— Dr. Alice Rizzi, Clinical Psychologist in New York, NY

Tired of being told you're too sensitive? Join the club. I've managed to make a career out of it, but I know the hazards of living in a too fast, too loud culture with a sensitive nervous system. Half the battle is knowing there's a name for it. The other half is figuring out how to design a life and community that treats these qualities as the strengths they are, rather than as liabilities.

— Ann Stoneson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

I provide individual therapy and couples counseling to introverts and highly sensitive people who struggle with managing deep emotions, feeling easily overwhelmed or overstimulated. The flip side of the HSP trait may be a strong sense of justice or empathy or noticing details that others often miss. There are tools that we can learn to help cope with the overwhelming feelings and sensitivities while honoring the strengths that go along with the HSP trait.

— Rachelle Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Spokane Valley, WA

Highly sensitive people make up most of my practice and my family. As an HSP myself, I have a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges that come with feeling deeply into oneself and one's environment. This is not pathology! This is evolutionary humanity and my goal is to help people lean into their sensitivity not away from it. The world is not suffering from an overabundance of sensitive people!

— Susan Pease Banitt, Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

If you are an HSP, you might notice yourself asking: -Why am I so emotional about things? -Why does life seem so exhausting? -Why is it so difficult for me to enjoy others and have fun? It’s natural to want to withdraw when we are under stress, but being highly sensitive without support can cause you to isolate, or spend more time alone, just because life doesn’t seem “doable” anymore. For HSP's, it could be challenging for you to interact with others and to handle your daily responsibilities.

— Lisa Knudson, Counselor in Asheville, NC

I think highly sensitive people are like superhero's with an extra skill not everyone has! However, being a highly sensitive person can be exhausting at times. When you feel everything in the world stronger, it can be overstimulating. Some things we work on in therapy are learning how to balance your emotions, know how to use your strengths in being a highly sensitive person, and find a partner and friends who are a good fit for you and your needs.

— Katrina Zaleski, Psychologist in TEMECULA, CA

High sensitivity is misunderstood in the therapeutic community. I have seen on many occasions when an HSP (me included) was mistakenly diagnosed with a disorder when symptoms were actually attributed to temperament. However, many HSPs I work with do have challenges with anxiety and depression. Studies show there are reasons for this, and when HSPs become aware of why this happens and know how to process, reframe, and care for their sensitivity, life becomes more manageable. Balance is possible.

— Carolyn Memmott, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in West Jordan, UT

That's me! In case you're not sure if you are an HSP, here are some signs: very conscientious, quickly overwhelmed, easily startled, avoid violent TV/movies, deeply moved by art/music, rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time, sensitive to smells, loud noise, course fabric, or caffeine, try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things, are a deep thinker or process stuff on a deeper level, notice subtleties in your environment, easily affected by other people's moods?

— Patti Sabla, Therapist in , FL

As a highly sensitive person myself, I understand the difficulty of navigating a world that was not designed to meet our needs. Feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, dissociation, and reactivity are common issues facing HSPs. I will help you unpack some of the coping mechanism that may not be helpful, draw healthy boundaries with others, respect your inner-rhythms and cycles, and live a life feeling grounded and centered, while learning to see your sensitivity as a strength.

— Kaylee Friedman, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in New Brunswick, NJ

As a highly sensitive person myself, I know firsthand how it can impact daily life. I have specialized in developing treatments to address the overwhelm often associated with high sensitivity. While treatment will focus on anxieties- it will also focus on what it means to be highly sensitive and how to embrace it as a strength. Sometimes sensitivity is accompanied by other issues which enhance daily challenges which we can navigate together.

— Sheilagh McGreal, Creative Art Therapist in Rochester,

Have you been told you are "too"--too sensitive, too picky, too thin-skinned, think too much, worry too much? Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) have AMAZING gifts to offer the world! I have such a passion for Sensitives, that I created a podcast called Unapologetically Sensitive, where we talk about the strengths you have BECAUSE of your sensitivity. It's not uncommon for HSPs to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, self-critical and not good enough. Let's work together and find your superpowers!

— Patricia Young, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego, CA

Through ten years of working with clients from all walks of life, it became obvious that a special population of people are highly sensitive. I began reading and learning about HSPs, which also lead me to learn about those with the "empath" gifts. While many people in this category have been given diagnoses for their sensitivity - I view these sensitivities as a gift and teach my clients to better understand and use sensitivity as a strength!

— Meghan Farr, Clinical Social Worker in Fishers, IN

Highly Sensitive People make up about 15-20% of the general population and possess a unique sensory processing trait that allows them to pick up more on subtleties in the environment. As such, they may become overwhelmed very easily, absorb other people’s emotions, or have difficulty navigating mainstream culture’s expectations. It’s important to work with a therapist who is knowledgeable about this trait and can provide a strengths-based approach as opposed to pathologizing one’s inherent sensitivity. I have undergone specific training to be listed on the hsperson.com website as an HSP-Knowledgable Therapist.

— Arianna Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor in Littleton, CO

Are you an empath? Empaths feel "everything"! Many have developed anxiety in social settings due to feeling overwhelmed around others. I specialize in helping empaths develop boundaries. I do this through the process of therapy, and also through the use of energy work tools.

— Sara Rotger, Marriage & Family Therapist in Montrose, CA

I specialize in helping HSPs better understand, value and thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person. 20% of people have the innate trait of high sensitivity.

— Louisa Lombard, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Los Angeles, CA

I work to support the highly sensitive person in finding calmness, clarity, and self-acceptance by utilizing their natural ingenuity and intuition. I promote balance and interconnectedness between spirit, mind, and body to support whole person wellness. https://praxisthriving.com/highly-sensitive-person

— Kristen Henshaw, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Many of my clients are immensely relieved just to learn their sensitivity and expressiveness are in fact parts of a temperament--something we are born with, but which is Not admired in our society. Some people benefit from reading the book (The Highly Sensitive Person) or using the accompanying workbook. In therapy, we learn ways to validate our spontaneous reactions and also to manage strong emotions.

— Nancy Gardner, Therapist in Chicago, IL

I also specialize in working with highly sensitive individuals who often suffer from depression and anxiety. If you are such an individual, then you know that you are mostly misunderstood as being oversensitive. However, you are likely just more receptive to your surroundings and respond according to your feelings. Let me help you live a more enjoyable life by learning coping techniques to manage your symptoms.

— Alexandra Lambeth, Licensed Professional Counselor in Grand Prairie, TX

You are keenly aware of your surroundings, readily overwhelmed or bothered by strong sensory input: colors/lights, sounds, texture, smells, etc. Your emotions run very deeply and are easily affected by other’ emotions, for better and for worse. Your nervous system is overloaded that you easily feel foggy or frazzled and need to withdraw to recharge. You've been called "too sensitive" or "too emotional." You often feel misunderstood but don't know how to explain yourself.

— Joanne Kim, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Jose, CA