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

High sensitivity (also called Sensory-Processing Sensitivity) is a well researched genetic trait shared by 15-20% of the population (as well as in at least 100 other animal species too!). Being an HSP does NOT mean that you have a disorder that needs to be fixed – it simply means learning to understand how your nervous system works, as well as the tools and skills for navigating life and relationships more easily and effectively. That’s where therapy can be helpful.

— Danielle Bush, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Santa Rosa, 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.

— Kristen Henshaw, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

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

I work with HSPs to help you to recognize your unique tendencies, and to learn to build a life that embraces those sensitivities while setting boundaries and creating a personal support system to help you thrive.

— Angela Albert, Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

You feel deeply, so much so that your own emotions can overwhelm you. Living life this way can be difficult. Being so sensitive feels like a liability. All this stimulus leaves you overwhelmed, tired and anxious. Being an HSP can be hard to navigate in a world that doesn’t value or validate this trait. You may have suspected that you’re different. Through therapy you can learn skills to make your HSP abilities an asset, and not a liability

— Meala Datura, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Mill Creek, WA

Do you often notice things that others miss? Or feel things deeply and have strong emotions? Maybe you get caught up in worrisome thoughts or feel overwhelmed easily by stress or social situations and need alone time to decompress? If so, you might be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Find out on my website by downloading the free guide: Sensitive & Strong - A Survival Guide for Highly Sensitive People.

— Becky Howie, Licensed Professional Counselor in Boulder, 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

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

Do you feel everything? The emotions of others? Places? Animals? Can’t watch certain shows or the news because you feel it all? Being a highly sensitive person or empathize can be exhausting and overwhelming. You are drained by others and love helping. Learn vital tools that support you and help you thrive as an empath.

— Margaret Bell, Counselor in Denver, CO

You feel deeply, so much so that your own emotions can overwhelm you. Living life this way can be difficult. Being so sensitive feels like a liability. All this stimulus leaves you overwhelmed, tired and anxious. Being an HSP can be hard to navigate in a world that doesn’t value or validate this trait. You may have suspected that you’re different. Through therapy you can learn skills to make your HSP abilities an asset, and not a liability.

— Meala Datura, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Mill Creek, WA

Being an HSP and/or HSS may make you feel out of step with the world. I see it as a superpower; a trait that seeks deep insight, attunement with the world around you, a strong sense of justice and care for the world and creativity in your approach to life. This depth of processing may also lead to feelings of overwhelm, difficulty protecting your energy or managing relationships with others who do not share the trait. Therapy can be an excellent way to harness this superpower!

— Jeanne Higgs, Clinical Social Worker in Houston, TX

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

The highly sensitive person can often feel misunderstood or invalidated. I use a caring, insight-oriented approach to guide clients to improving communication and interpersonal interactions with others.

— Priscilla Anzaldua, Therapist in Chicago, IL

I understand how overstimulation can impact a highly sensitive person in a non-sensitive world.

— Kristen Martinez, Counselor in Seattle, WA

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

Your life will be improved by the Highly Sensitive Person strategies that you will learn to implement on a daily basis, throughout the day. I believe in brain-based approaches that are effective and goal-setting with an action-stepped approach.

— Dr. Maysoon Park-Huatuco, Counselor in RIDLEY PARK, PA

Reed loves using Compassion-Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to teach HSP's/Empaths the skills they need to increase their emotional resilience, self-compassion, and interpersonal relationship health.

— Reed Balentine, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Little Rock, AR

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

As Elaine Aron, Ph.D., states in her work with highly sensitive people (HSP), "There is nothing wrong with high sensitivity. Sensitivity is an advantage in many situations and for many purposes, but not in other cases. Like having a certain eye color, it is a neutral, normal trait inherited by a large portion of the population, not the majority." Dr. Aron estimates that this trait s found in 15-20% of the population. I help HSPs understand their strength and true gift as an empath.

— Shari Grande, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Jose, CA

I help clients with sensitive temperaments cope with living in a less-than-sensitive world. Signs that your or child might be a highly sensitive person include: -Easily overwhelmed by busy or noisy environments -Significantly bothered by physical discomforts such as scratchy clothing or temperature -Slow to warm up to new people and situations -Tendency to be a perfectionist -Difficulty making decisions -Processing emotions and experiences deeply

— Emily Long, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Dallas, TX

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,

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or sometimes called having a Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS), has a set of innate, genetic traits and comprises about 15-20% of the population. An HSP’s nervous system is wired differently and they experience stimuli (sights, sounds, touch, smells, and tastes) and emotions at a deep and intense level. Therefore, they are overwhelmed easily, have difficulty making decisions, detail-oriented, very observant, intuitive and generally self-aware. Our culture and society is usually not conducive to living as an HSP, but by using their strengths to their advantage, having regular self-care and learning methods for emotional and physical regulation, HSPs can thrive. Having a psychotherapist that is familiar with and knowledgeable about these traits can help a person better understand themselves and identify what works best for managing their sensitivities. 

— Carmen Schmidt Benedetti, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Rosa, CA

My expertise with Highly Sensitive Person (also called sensory processing sensitivity) is based on personal and professional experience. I've completed Dr. Elaine Aron's books and video training. I'm a member of several groups for ongoing consultation and growth in this area.

— Nancy Lee, Licensed Professional Counselor in Aurora, CO