Are You a “Highly Sensitive Person” or an Empath?
An area of special interest in our practice is working with individuals who identify as having Sensory Processing Sensitivities*, also called “highly sensitive” or as “empaths.” These are normal traits and between 15-20% of people could be considered to be HSPs or Empaths. The HSP trait may also be referred to as Sensory Processing Sensitivity. Some people are both HSPs and Empaths. Some are one or the other. Whether you identify as an HSP, an empath, or both, you may find that your level of sensitivity affects your relationships, your work, and even your health. It can feel isolating and confusing. Therapy can offer a safe place to explore, learn tools for successful living, and come to love your sensitive self.
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) experience the world somewhat differently than non-HSPs. They may be more attuned to subtleties around them, be extra observant, feel easily overwhelmed, and sometimes may be mistaken for shy. They may feel drained when around a lot of people, noises, lights, etc. HSPs typically recharge best with a bit of solitude. It is not a mental disorder or a diagnosis.
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? You can take the free test at HSPerson.com, a website offering the latest news and support for HSPs. Dr. Elaine Aron is a psychologist and an HSP herself, and her site offers a wealth of information. Tammy Fletcher, LMFT, has completed specialized training in this area, and is listed on Dr. Aron’s site as an HSP-Knowledgeable Therapist. Take the free test by clicking here.
Are you an empath? Empaths are sensitive to subtle energies in their environments and in the people around them. They may find themselves internalizing the emotions of others. While there are more books purporting to discuss Empaths than HSPs, definitions of this type of person vary greatly. Psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff, herself an empath, has written the definitive book on empaths, and her website is a treasure trove of resources, articles, and support. Visit Dr. Orloff on the web here: http://www.drjudithorloff.com/empath-support-community
What is the difference between a Highly Sensitive Person and an Empath? Can you be both? Check our Dr. Orloff’s article here: http://www.drjudithorloff.com/_blog/Dr_Judith_Orloff’s_Blog/post/the-difference-between-empaths-and-highly-sensitive-people/
*Sensory Processing Sensitivity and Sensory Processing Disorder are two different things.
Dr. Fletcher discusses the HSP trait here: