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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Abrams

For Highly Sensitive People and Empaths

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

I offer specialized support for those who recognize themselves as a highly sensitive person (HSP).

Clinical psychologist Elaine Aron, Ph.D. paved the way for the current understanding of what it means to be a highly sensitive person with her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive When the World Overwhelms You and other books tailored to parenting, love relationships and more. Her website, The Highly Sensitive Person, offers many resources.

Based on the research of Dr. Aron’s research, high sensitivity is a trait related to deep processing found in about 20% of the population. About 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts. A highly sensitive person (HSP):

· Is highly observant of subtleties

· Is more bothered by high levels of stimulation such as loud noises, crowded places, extreme temperatures, etc.

· Has strong emotional responses

· Needs more downtime

· Is usually thoughtful and observant

· May have vivid dreams and nightmares

· May be very creative or artistic

· May have special relationships with nature and animals

· May take longer to make decisions, but may uncover considerations that others don’t, resulting generally in good decisions

· May face workplace challenges related to finding a supportive environment, meaningful work, and navigating pressures from others

· May feel “different,” and struggle with low self-esteem until better understanding the trait and ways to cope and live a more empowered life.

(Source: Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron)

Intuitive psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff has created a body of work dedicated to supporting empaths, highly sensitive people who empathize to a very high degree with the people they are around and the environment they are in. According to Dr. Orloff in The Empath’s Survival Guide, empaths:

· Feel everything, often to an extreme

· Have little guard up between themselves and others

· Are often overwhelmed by excessive stimulation

· Are prone to exhaustion and sensory overload

· Have a more reactive neurological system and are therefore “super responders”

· Absorb both the stress and the joy of the world.


Having these qualities can mean that life sometimes feels overwhelming, that you become exhausted, or you feel “different” from most of the people around you. You may struggle with over-empathizing with family members, friends, or relationship partners until you feel completely depleted. You may struggle with accepting yourself and the way you relate to the world, wrestling with low-self esteem. You may have chronic health conditions and feel like you’re treading water to stay healthy.

Identifying that you are an HSP or empath can help you better recognize the ways you are affected by how you process the world around you, whether in relationships or at work. Being highly sensitive is not a disorder and brings with it valuable qualities. It is so important to recognize and validate the strengths that often go along with being highly sensitive, such as conscientiousness, empathy, perception, intuition, deep understanding, and more.

The work of Drs. Aron and Orloff has been instrumental in my own understanding of what it means to be a highly sensitive person and how to develop coping skills to thrive with this experience of processing the world. I draw from Dr. Aron’s books and resources in supporting clients who are highly sensitive and recently completed a program to become an "HSP-Knowledgable Therapist" listed in Dr. Aron's provider directory. I have also completed an in-depth training with Dr. Orloff and draw from her books and resources to provide support to empaths.

As a therapist and highly sensitive person myself, my goal is to help other HSPs recognize their strengths and gifts, gain self-acceptance, and live in a more peaceful and empowered way. Receiving the support you need to better understand yourself as an HSP can be life-changing, something I’ve experienced myself in therapy and in working with outstanding teachers and trainers.

In receiving this type of support, clients often find themselves moving towards deeper self-knowledge and self-acceptance, increased emotional freedom, healthier relationships, and increased clarity about what kind of work and workplace are a good fit.

If you relate to some or all of these descriptions of how highly sensitive people experience the world, and would like to experience the benefits of tailored support for your needs, please reach out. We can work together to explore how you can live a healthier, more peaceful, and empowered life.

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