Navigating the world as a highly sensitive person (HSP) can be both a challenging and rewarding experience.
To help you better understand this unique trait, we’ve compiled a comprehensive article filled with valuable information about HSP therapy, symptoms, gifts, and strengths of being an HSP. We aim to provide mental health support and empower you on your journey toward self-discovery, growth, and well-being.
The Online Mental Health Reviews team is composed of experienced mental health professionals and dedicated researchers, making us qualified to provide in-depth information on HSP therapy. Being writers ourselves, we identify!
We also deliver, in this article, comprehensive comparisons of online therapy services, tailored to support those seeking mental health guidance for Empaths and Highly Sensitive People.
1. Recognizing the Signs of Being an HSP
Highly sensitive people possess a heightened sensitivity to various stimuli in their own skin and environment. This increased sensitivity can manifest itself in several ways, including:
- Feeling overwhelmed by sensory input such as loud noises, bright lights, strong odors, or large crowds
- Experiencing intense emotions and deep empathy for others
- Tendency to overthink or ruminate on thoughts and decisions
- Needing more downtime or alone time to recharge
- Being prone to stress, anxiety, or depression
- Having a strong connection to nature or the arts
If you identify with many of these traits, you may be an HSP. It’s important to remember that while these symptoms can be challenging, they can also bring about unique gifts and strengths.
How do I know if my client is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
For Therapists: Mental health professionals need to recognize the signs of an HSP so they can provide appropriate care for their clients.
- A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is an individual who has a heightened or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to multiple stimuli. This means that HSPs are more aware of their environment, emotions, and thoughts than those without this trait.
- Signs that may indicate an individual is an HSP include intense emotional reactions to stressors or stimuli, overstimulation, sensory sensitivity, avoiding some environments, and having heightened empathy or intuition.
- Common jobs for HSPs include artists, writers, marriage counselors, therapists, social workers, and teachers. These individuals often use tools such as journaling or meditation to help them cope with the intensity of their emotions and feelings.
- Additionally, they may also find solace in nature walks or other activities that allow them to be alone with their thoughts and feelings.
High Sensitivity May Be Result of Adverse Childhood Experiences
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are becoming an increasingly well-researched topic, according to CDC.gov (https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/index.html).
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can lead to increased sensitivity, characterized by greater awareness, heightened emotional reactivity, and greater susceptibility to stress.
- The effects of toxic stress on the developing brain may contribute to this connection.
- Those with high sensitivity may have difficulty with social, academic, and occupational functioning due to their heightened emotions and vulnerability to stress.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based interventions as well as self-care activities such as exercise or journaling can help manage the effects of ACEs on high sensitivity.
- Seeking out appropriate treatment is recommended for individuals dealing with this issue in order to manage symptoms effectively and live a healthy life.
2. Embracing the Gifts and Strengths of Being an HSP
Being an HSP means that you possess a range of unique qualities that can positively impact your life and the lives of those around you. Some of the most notable gifts and strengths include:
- Highly intuitive: HSPs are often able to pick up on subtle cues in their environment, making them more perceptive and insightful.
- Deep empathy: Highly sensitive people have a natural ability to connect with others on an emotional level, allowing for deeper relationships and understanding.
- Creative and artistic: With their rich inner world, HSPs are often drawn to creative pursuits, such as writing, painting, or composing music.
- Detail-oriented: HSPs have a keen eye for detail, which can be an asset in many professional and personal situations.
- Strong moral compass: Because of their deep connection with their emotions, highly sensitive people tend to possess a strong sense of right and wrong.
While being an HSP presents its challenges, it’s essential to recognize and celebrate these gifts and strengths as well.
List of Common Challenges for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs)
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are individuals with a heightened sensitivity to their environment, often taking in more sensory input than the average person.
This can lead to a variety of challenges, such as feeling overwhelmed by loud noises or bright lights, struggling with uncertainty, and overthinking social interactions. HSPs may also experience physical discomfort due to increased pain sensitivity or become easily drained and exhausted emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Why Highly Sensitive People Seek Out Therapy
Due to their heightened sensitivity, HSPs tend to feel more intensely and become more easily overwhelmed than the general population.
As a result, they may seek out therapy for a variety of reasons. For example, they may feel misunderstood or alienated from others due to their unique sensitivities; they may struggle with anxiety or depression; or they may need help in coping with past traumas.
Therapy can provide a safe space for HSPs to feel understood, validated, and supported. It can also help them develop new coping mechanisms and manage their emotions with greater confidence and skill.
By working through difficult experiences in therapy, HSPs can gain insight into themselves and learn how to better navigate life’s challenges.
3. Exploring HSP Therapy Options
HSPs can benefit from finding a therapist who understands their unique needs and can provide support in managing their emotions, stress levels, and relationships.
To better manage the symptoms of being an HSP and fully embrace your unique qualities, it’s important to find the right therapy for your needs. Here are some options to consider:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a popular form of therapy that helps individuals change negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies. This can be particularly helpful for HSPs who struggle with overthinking and anxiety.
- Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Practices such as mindfulness meditation and yoga can help HSPs develop greater self-awareness and learn to manage overwhelming stimuli more effectively.
- Art Therapy: As many HSPs are naturally drawn to creative pursuits, art therapy can provide a safe outlet for expressing emotions and exploring personal experiences.
- Online Therapy: For those who may feel overwhelmed by traditional face-to-face therapy, online platforms offer a flexible and convenient alternative. This allows HSPs to access mental health support from the comfort of their own home.
When seeking therapy, it’s crucial to find a therapist who understands the unique needs of highly sensitive people and can provide tailored support.
How do you treat an HSP person?
To effectively manage their sensitivities, HSPs can benefit from a variety of treatment methods.
- Self-care practices such as journaling or meditation can help individuals process their feelings and gain perspective on difficult situations.
- Establishing a routine with adequate rest can also be beneficial for managing stress levels.
- Additionally, learning self-soothing techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety when faced with overwhelming situations.
For those who need additional support beyond self-care practices, professional help through therapy or medication may be necessary.
A mental health expert can guide lifestyle changes that facilitate an environment conducive to relaxation and practical strategies for dealing with overstimulation social anxiety or hypersensitivity.
What type of therapy is best for a highly sensitive person?
These are just some examples of therapies that could be beneficial for Highly Sensitive People who may struggle with emotional stimulation and stress. It is important to find the right type of therapy that works best for each person’s needs and goals.
- CBT may help HSPs. This therapy targets negative mental processes to improve behavior. CBT helps HSPs understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior. HSPs can improve their emotional health by learning new coping strategies.
- DBT may benefit HSPs. Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral approaches help people regulate their emotions with this strategy. For extremely sensitive people who struggle with emotional overwhelm or excessive reactivity to stressful situations, DBT promotes distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal efficacy, and mindfulness.
- Finally, HSPs may benefit from somatic experiencing (SE). SE helps people recognize and control their emotions and physical feelings. This method helps HSPs learn how to regulate their body’s stress responses.
Additionally, there are many other resources available such as books, websites, support groups, etc., which can provide additional support and guidance for HSPs on their journey towards healing and self-discovery.
6 Steps to Find Therapy for HSP
Here are six steps to help you find therapy for highly sensitive people:
- Understand Your Needs: Before beginning your search for a therapist, it is important to understand your own needs and what type of therapy would best suit them. Consider whether you prefer individual or group sessions, if you need someone with specialized training in HSPs, or if you would like to explore different types of therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy.
- Research Therapists: Once you have identified your needs, start researching potential therapists online or through referrals from friends or family members. Look for therapists who specialize in working with HSPs and read reviews from past clients to get an idea of how they work with this population.
- Ask Questions: When interviewing potential therapists, make sure to ask questions about their experience working with HSPs and what techniques they use when providing treatment. It is also important to ask about fees and insurance coverage so that you know what to expect financially before committing to a therapist.
- Schedule an Initial Consultation: After selecting a few potential therapists, schedule an initial consultation with each one so that you can get a better sense of how they work and if they are the right fit for you. During the consultation, discuss your goals for therapy as well as any concerns that may arise during treatment such as confidentiality or scheduling issues.
- Take Time To Reflect: After meeting with each therapist, take some time to reflect on your experiences before making a decision about which one is right for you. Consider how comfortable you felt during the session and if the therapist was able to answer all of your questions satisfactorily.
- Make A Decision: Once you have taken time to reflect on all of your options, make an informed decision about which therapist is best suited for your needs and begin treatment!
Find an HSP Therapist via Talkspace
Talkspace is a well-known online therapy site that helps people with a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety. The app puts people in touch with licensed therapists who have experience helping people with anxiety and other mental health problems.
Most importantly, Talkspace gives you a lot of choices when it comes to picking a therapist, so you can choose one who specializes in HSP / Empath therapy.
Talkspace wants to make mental health care easier to get and less expensive for the more than 40 million Americans who have health insurance. The app offers personalized treatment plans, which may include medication, as well as easy-to-use ways to talk, like texting, phone, and video sessions.
In our online review of Talkspace, we talk about how we bought it and share recordings of our therapy and medication meetings with a Talkspace therapist and doctor. When we talked to the doctor, we were moved to tears.
But it’s important to remember that Talkspace might not be the best choice for everyone. For people whose main worry is anxiety or depression, other tools or treatment methods, like Brightside Health, may be better. When picking an online therapy service, it’s important to think about your own needs and preferences.
List of Steps to manage life as an HSP
Daily Habits for HSPs
Daily habits that can help HSPs manage their heightened sensitivity include:
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day
- Practicing mindful breathing exercises
- Setting healthy boundaries with others
- Learning to say “no” when needed
- Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water
- Getting adequate sleep each night
Weekly Habits for HSPs
Weekly habits that can help HSPs manage their heightened sensitivity include:
- Practicing yoga or another form of physical activity at least once a week
- Scheduling regular time for self-care activities like taking a hot bath or reading a book
- Spending time in nature or engaging in creative activities
- Keeping track of mood and energy levels throughout the week
Monthly Habits for HPSs
Monthly habits that can help HPSs manage their heightened sensitivity include:
- Scheduling regular check-ins with loved ones or a licensed professional
- Making time for meditation practice at least once a month
- Creating an action plan for managing stressors and difficult emotions
HSP Therapy Conclusion
Being a highly sensitive person comes with its share of challenges, but it also offers a wealth of gifts and strengths that can enhance your life in numerous ways. By recognizing the symptoms, embracing your unique qualities, and seeking appropriate therapy, you can learn to navigate the world as an HSP with greater ease and confidence.
Remember, your sensitivity is not a weakness – it’s a unique trait that, when understood and nurtured, can lead to deep personal growth and meaningful connections with others. Embrace your own sensitivity trait, and allow it to empower you on your journey toward self-discovery, mental well-being, and personal fulfillment.
We encourage you to leave a comment with any questions you may have about HSP therapy, or share your suggestions on which mental health service, app, or course you’d like the Online Mental Health Reviews team to explore next. Our mission is to provide informative, positive, and structured guidance to empower you on your mental health journey.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). (2021, April 2). Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/index.html
- Rizzo-Sierra, C. V., Leon-S, M. E., & Leon-Sarmiento, F. E. (2012, May). Higher sensory processing sensitivity, introversion and ectomorphism: New biomarkers for human creativity in developing rural areas. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice, 03(02), 159–162. https://doi.org/10.4103/0976-3147.98314
Frequently Asked HSP Questions
If being an HSP is so common, why haven’t I heard about it until now?
High Sensory Perception (HSP) is a trait that has been around for centuries but was not widely discussed until recently.
- This is because HSPs often have difficulty processing sensory information and can be overwhelmed by their environment, leading to them being perceived as shy or anxious.
- However, in recent years, there has been an increased awareness and acceptance of the concept of HSPs due to research into the neurological basis of this trait.
- Studies2 have found that people with high sensory perception have differences in brain structure and function compared to those without it, which may explain why they are more highly sensitive brain them to certain stimuli than others.
- Additionally, research has revealed that HSPs tend to be more creative and intuitive than their non-HSP counterparts.
As a result of these findings, HSPs are now being recognized as having unique strengths and abilities rather than simply being seen as overly sensitive individuals.
Is High Sensitivity the Same as Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, or being gifted?
High sensitivity, also known as sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), is a trait that affects up to 20% of the population.
Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is often confused with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) due to their similarities.
- SPD sufferers have trouble processing sensory input. They may be excessively or undersensitive to specific feelings and overwhelmed by environmental stimuli.
- Autism impacts social interaction and perception. Autism causes repetitive actions, limited interests, and social difficulties. 90% of autistic people are either oversensitive or scarcely register sensory stimulation.
- Gifted people excel in academics, music, art, and other fields far beyond their age group. Gifted youngsters may be easily distracted by noise or have trouble focusing for lengthy periods.
In conclusion, high sensitivity is not the same as sensory processing disorder, autism, or being gifted; however, they do share some common characteristics such as heightened sensitivities and deeper processing of stimuli in one’s environment.
It is important to note that each individual has unique traits and experiences that make them special in their way.
Does Being an HSP mean that I’m weaker than other people?
No, being a highly sensitive person does not make you weaker than other people.
A highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a mental trait in which people are more aware of the things going on around them. This means that they are usually more sensitive than others to physical, mental, and social stimuli.
There are both good and bad things about being an HSP.
- On the one hand, it can make someone more creative, empathetic, and able to notice things that others might miss or make links faster.
- On the other hand, it can also make you feel overwhelmed in some scenarios or have trouble adjusting to new ones.
It’s important to remember that being an HSP doesn’t mean you’re weak; it’s a unique trait with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
Is being a highly sensitive person a mental disorder?
No, being a highly sensitive person (HSP) is not classified as a mental disorder.
The term “highly sensitive person” was first coined by psychologist Elaine Aron in her book “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You“.
According to Aron’s theory, HSPs are a subset of the population who are high in a personality trait called sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS). Those with SPS have heightened awareness and reactivity to both positive and negative influences in their environment.
This means that they may experience strong emotional reactions to events or situations that other people may not find particularly upsetting.
Although research has suggested that HSPs may be at greater risk for developing certain mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, there is no evidence that being an HSP is itself a mental disorder. Many people with this trait lead healthy and successful lives.
Are HSP people neurodivergent?
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) are often considered to be neurodivergent, meaning that they have a neurological difference or disorder that is not the norm.
- Neurodiversity is the concept of recognizing and respecting differences in human brains, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other conditions.
- Though neurodiversity and Highly Sensitive Personality share some common characteristics, they are not necessarily the same thing.
- Neurodiversity includes a range of neurological conditions that can affect learning styles and communication abilities; whereas HSPs tend to be more emotionally highly sensitive children rather than neurologically different from others.
- It’s important to note that both concepts should be respected equally as valid forms of diversity.
Individuals with either condition should not be judged or labeled negatively; rather they should be embraced for their unique strengths and perspectives.
Do HSPs make good therapists?
Highly sensitive persons (HSPs) can make excellent therapists, as they possess a range of traits that are well-suited to the profession.
HSPs are often highly attuned to non-verbal cues, which can be invaluable in therapy sessions. They also tend to have heightened emotional intelligence and empathetic nature, both of which can help them connect with clients on a deeper level.
However, there are some challenges that HSP therapists may face.
For example, they may become overstimulated in the therapy room due to their heightened sensitivity or find it difficult to set boundaries with clients.
To overcome these challenges, HSP therapists may employ unique techniques such as mindfulness and self-care strategies to ensure they remain grounded and balanced during sessions.
Additionally, they may use creative methods such as art therapy or journaling activities to help their highly sensitive clients express themselves in meaningful ways.
Ultimately, HSPs have the potential to be outstanding therapists if they take the necessary steps to manage their sensitivities while providing exceptional care for their clients.
How do I calm myself as an HSP?
Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) often struggle with managing their emotions. It is important to create a peaceful environment, practice self-care, and limit screen time.
- Practicing deep breathing exercises can help to reduce stress levels in HSPs.
- Eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water can also help to regulate emotions.
- Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, or frankincense can be used to promote relaxation.
- Creating mantras or positive affirmations can also help manage emotions.
- Hobbies like yoga, meditation, journaling, and art are great ways to relax and express yourself.
- Setting boundaries is also important for HSPs so that they don’t become overwhelmed by the demands of others.
- It is also beneficial for HSPs to join support groups where they can connect with others who understand their struggles and share coping strategies.
If You’re In An Emergency
If you find yourself in such a big deal crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment might not be the safest option. In case of immediate assistance, please dial 911, especially if there are plans to harm yourself or others. For those contemplating self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling 988 and provides 24/7 support.
Alternatively, the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be reached at 800-662-HELP (4357). This free and confidential helpline offers round-the-clock assistance, 365 days a year, connecting individuals with mental or substance abuse disorders to treatment resources and valuable information.