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

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 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

Are you stressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Do you feel ungrounded in your relationships? Do you find it hard to manage your life without losing who you are? Learn how to rediscover your sense of purpose and empowerment as a Highly Sensitive Person, by managing stress, anxiety, relationships and work demand while honoring your authentic self.

— Layla Ashley, Marriage & Family Therapist in Valley Village, 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

Boundary definition is vital in improving our own health and creating balance in relationships. I assist people in attuning to your own needs and recognizing when you are holding emotions and stresses that are not actually your own. I can safely hold space for people who are used to being the one everyone else goes to with problems but feel you have no one to turn to for support. I understand how it can be exhausting work to stay strong all the time and offer ways to shift from that.

— Shana Wright Wood, Associate Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

Oooh, guess what? I ALSO wrote about this topic on my blog! In short, HSP qualities can include: Being easily overwhelmed by stimuli Being affected by other people’s moods Being easily startled Needing to withdraw during busy times to a private, quiet place Getting nervous or shaky if someone is observing you or competing with you Check out my blog for a longer explanation AND a link to a quiz!

— Wendy Curtis, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

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

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

Self-identify as HSP; member of HSP and HST (therapist) groups; certification in HST (therapy) underway.

— Amy Singer, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Highly sensitive persons have an an amplified and intense sensory set of experiences and interpretations that are sometimes unrecognized, overlooked, and misinterpreted by others. As a highly sensitive person myself, with a first career in art as an artist and teacher, I have a personal basis for understanding the difficulty inherent in being a highly sensitive person. In addition to exploring the experience of this, we will develop new ways of relating to this experience and new tools.

— Mary Bruce-Owenby, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

I specialize in helping HSPs (also termed Sensory Processing Sensitivity) better understand, value and thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person. 15-20% of us have the innate trait of high sensitivity, it's not a diagnosis it's a common personality temperament.

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

"Over-sensitive" "over reacting" "extra" "drama queen" "overly emotional" "too sensitive." Has anyone accused you of any of these things? You are likely a highly sensitive person. I believe this is a blessing not a curse. To feel things deeply is a gift but we live in a world where big feelings are not acceptable. Learning to regulate your emotions helps make huge emotions easier to deal with in day to day life.

— Stacey Aldridge, Clinical Social Worker in Canton, MS

Individuals who experience an increase in sensory and emotional stimuli could have characteristics such as high creativity, innovation or empathy. These gifts can also come with unique challenges that I address from a multifaceted mind-body approach.

— Emily Fisken, Counselor in Eugene, OR

Having Sensory disorders or being emotionally sensitive is often highly miss understood. I am very patient and understanding when working with these type of symptoms and have found the art to be a helpful way in working with sensitivities of any kind if one is open to it.

— Samantha Hanson, Art Therapist in Menasha, WI

High sensitivity can be both a gift and a curse. It carries inherent challenges, especially in an increasingly overwhelming, fast-paced world. I can help you learn tools to cope, freeing you to harness the gifts of your sensitivity, such as your creativity, intuition, and empathy. I can help you increase your understanding of your sensitivity, reframe past experiences through the lens of sensitivity to heal sensitive traumas, let go of perfectionism, and learn tools to manage overwhelm.

— Tiana Leeds, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Barbara, CA

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 am passionate about High Sensitivity. When I was able to find out about the trait, it changed my life, as I am an HSP. The depth of processing, sensory sensitivities, and emotional experiences are just a part of the HSP experience that I understand and appreciate. As a fellow HSP, I am able to understand the challenges and strengths of sensitivity. I would love to help you see your sensitivity as a strength and explore the High Sensitivity trait.

— Claire Eggleston, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

Those who describe experiencing the world as a "highly sensitive person" or "empath" generally have a much harder time fitting into the prescribed cultural and social norms. These folks typically have intense emotions, mood swings, sleeping difficulties, and very high anxiety. Learning what types of environments and people are right for them and learning how to communicate their needs is critical to their overall well-being and fullness of living. Discernment skills are also important for the HSP/empath, as they often feel the feelings of others, not knowing what feelings are their own or someone else's. When a highly sensitive person is traumatized, or has been traumatized in childhood (and the memories have gone underground), the results can be very confusing for both the HSP and their caregivers/loved ones. They may hear voices, see visions, and report paranormal activity. I can help navigate this confusing journey and have extensive experience doing so.

— Lisa Wheeler, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

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,

— Patti Sabla, Therapist in , FL

I am a Highly Sensitive Person. It's one of my passions to help other HSPs to discover their unique gifts as well as learn tools to cope with the overwhelming influx of sensory input through the environment. Example are: vibrations, sounds, sights, smells and other's emotions.

— Donna Del Bello, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Austin, TX

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

For those who live as a human sponge and easily soak up the energy of the environment, other people, nature, etc., life can be challenging. I work with HSP's to learn strategies for maintaining the gifts of being an intuitive and empathic human being while protecting oneself from the energetic overload of everything they make contact with. Please visit www.whitneysutherland.com/services for more information.

— Whitney Sutherland, Counselor in Cedar Park, TX

Being a Highly Sensitive Person myself, I know first hand what it is like. A term that some are more familiar with is an Empath. With this wonderful gift of being empathically attuned to the world, people, nature, animals it comes with many challenges that we as HSP's have to navigate. Building awareness, getting in tune with the body, listening to intuition, grounding, meditation, are just a few of the ways that I help HSP's navigate through their life while using a Trauma-Informed approach.

— Courtney Keiser, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Austin, TX

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

— Kristen Martinez, Counselor in Seattle, WA

I have professional and personal experience understanding and unpacking highly sensitive personality traits and how to develop self care tailored to the HSP.

— Alicia Pace, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Pflugerville, TX

There are 15-20% of the population who are Highly Sensitive. As an HSP myself, I understand the struggles HS Person has, especially living in a world where people who can work long hours under stress are valued more. There is a need to re-discover the gifts that HSP's bring to the world. We will work on embracing your sensitivity so that one day when others say to you "You are too sensitive!", it will be a compliment instead of a criticism.

— Chui-Tan Lee, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

As a highly sensitive person (HSP) myself, I am able to work with clients on how to understand both the challenges and strengths the trait can bring. I often work with clients on how sensitivity, creativity, and giftedness have shaped their life experiences and how they can utilize these in their adult lives.

— Kami Sidman, Licensed Professional Counselor in Arlington, VA