Highly Sensitive People

Woman sits holding a cute, cuddly puppy.

Counseling for Highly Sensitive People

Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are individuals who tend to process sensory information – light, noise, pain, and hunger – in a deeper way. HSPs pick up on details that others might miss and are affected by changes in the environment and in internal experiences. 

If any of the experiences below sound familiar to you, you may be highly sensitive.

  • Do you ever feel emotionally exhausted by your acute awareness of your environment?
  • Is your ability to pick up on subtle changes in the moods of people around you overwhelming?
  • Do you have many intense emotions that affect you physically and psychologically? For example, empathy for others, fear of failure, or difficulty self-regulating emotions? 
  • Do you feel a need to retreat to a place of quiet, privacy, and peace to reach a calm state? 

What is High Sensitivity? 

A Highly Sensitive Person is a neurodivergent individual who exhibits a personality trait known as sensory-processing sensitivity, or SPS. Research shows that HSPs have a highly developed sensitivity to stimuli within their central nervous system. Although High Sensitivity is not considered a disorder, it can lead to increased anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and/or other mental health concerns.

Because HSPs process experiences, emotions, and thoughts on a deep level, they are highly aware and compassionate. Increased emotional sensitivity can provoke strong physical reactions that lead to feelings of sensory overload.

If you are highly sensitive, you are not alone.

High sensitivity is an innate personality trait found in about 15-20% of the population. Being Highly Sensitive means you have a unique survival strategy that calls for being observant before acting. You may also have many intense emotions that affect you physically and psychologically. For example, a deep empathy for others, fear of failure, feeling overwhelmed by too much stimuli, or difficulty self-regulating emotions. 

Common Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People

A Highly Sensitive Person is a neurodivergent individual who exhibits a personality trait called sensory-processing sensitivity, also known as SPS. Some HSPs experience or can be described by the following:

  • Sensory overwhelm produced by too much stimuli – loud noises, bright lights, crowds, strong smells, rough fabrics, etc. 
  • Intensely observes their environment and surroundings; notices subtle cues that others miss
  • Has heightened empathy and experiences intense emotions in response to other people’s feelings
  • Has difficulty sleeping due to worry
  • Was / is described as shy or sensitive during childhood
  • Avoids violent movies and TV shows as they tend to cause overwhelm and feelings of unease
  • Has strong and intense emotional reactions that cause them to feel dysregulated
  • Becomes anxious and upset when they have many things to do during a short amount of time
  • Has a need and desire for downtime where they can be alone after a busy day
  • Is deeply moved and affected by art, nature, music, beauty, etc. 
  • Is highly attuned to injustice
  • Is prone to perfectionism and may worry about ability, performance, and disappointing others
  • Consciously avoids experiences that could be overwhelming or upsetting
  • Has a rich and complex inner life, with strong feelings and deep thoughts
  • Has a greater awareness of feelings and emotions in themself as well as others around them
  • Has a tendency to think deeply about life’s puzzles

If you’re still unsure if you may be a highly sensitive person, you can check out the HSP questionnaire developed by psychologists Elaine Aron and Arthur Aron in 1996 to describe the term ‘Highly Sensitive Person.’

Challenges of Being a Highly Sensitive Adult

There is nothing wrong with you – being highly sensitive can actually be your superpower! 

Highly sensitive personality traits can help create a rich and complex life. However, being highly attuned to subtle changes in your environment or to the moods of people around you can also be emotionally exhausting.

A young woman sitting on a cozy sofa, hands behind head looking away happily as if daydreaming.

Being a HSP isn’t a disorder, and there isn’t anything you need to “fix.” If you find you are having difficulty navigating relationships, anxiety, intense emotions, or feelings of overwhelm that make it difficult to live the life you want, counseling for highly sensitive people can help. 

Benefits of Therapy for Highly Sensitive People

Therapy is an incredibly effective way for HSPs to address their unique struggles in a safe setting.

Through therapy tailored for HSPs, you can gain greater insight into how your sensitivity impacts your daily life. With increased understanding of your own experiences, you will learn to make more mindful choices when facing difficult circumstances and emotions that have felt overwhelming in the past.

Coping Skills and Therapeutic Approaches for Highly Sensitive Adults

In therapy as an HSP, you can:

  • Develop strategies for managing overwhelming emotions
  • Build feelings of safety and comfort in life situations
  • Practice self-care techniques that bring peace and balance.
  • Manage your heightened sensitivity to lead a more balanced life
  • Explore ways of honoring your sensitivities without being held back by them
  • Gain tools for navigating social situations – such as work, school, or family gatherings – without becoming overwhelmed
  • Get help with recognizing and managing intense emotions
  • Find support in dealing with overwhelm and improving self-care
  • Gain an understanding of the impact of hyperarousal on day-to-day life 
  • Develop coping strategies and build inner strength.
  • Receive assistance with common HSP issues, such as overwhelmed emotion and persistent fatigue
  • Discuss triggers, stressors, and emotional needs

Our therapists will also focus on helping you manage any underlying mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, or trauma – that may be affecting your daily life.

Our goal is to help you become more aware of how your sensitivity affects you and to provide you with the necessary tools to lead a happier life.

Meet our Therapists

Counseling can help you learn to accept yourself for who you are, cope with life’s challenges, and develop long-term strategies for success. We’d love to support you and your growth in therapy.

A quiet office with two round teal chairs.

Live a full and meaningful life as a Highly Sensitive Person

You don’t have to suffer alone. Our therapists can help you Grow, Heal, and Thrive.