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Wild Flowers

About the Highly Sensitive Person

The Highly Sensitive Person & The Empath

A few years ago I happened across the personality traits of the Highly Sensitive Person and the Empath. Since then, I have come to realize and embrace these character traits myself. Once I understood what it means to be wired this way, I was able to take better care of my mental and physical health. Society often shames those deemed "sensitive" to the point that we feel deeply flawed and inadequate. I have learned that this trait is not a bad thing! It is an amazing gift that we carry. During this period of self-actualization and growth I have noticed that the families coming to me for help were also struggling with high sensitivity. I do not believe this to be a coincidence! If you are reading this there is a high possibility that you or someone you love is highly sensitive.


What is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

A highly sensitive person (HSP) is someone who is greatly affected by social stimuli, such as other people's voices and facial expressions [1]. An HSP is a neurodivergent individual who is thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli [2]. Some refer to this as having sensory processing sensitivity, or SPS for short. Famous researcher Dr. Elaine Aron states that approximately 20% of the population is highly sensitive. High sensitivity isn't a disorder found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or an illness. As you learn more about what it means to be highly sensitive, you'll come to realize how lucky it is to have this gift! There are loads of people that would love to possess an HSP's empathy and capacity to ponder life's big questions. 

What is an Empath?

An empath is a person with an open spirit; they unconsciously sense things in the unseen and the seen realm to the point where it can become a burden. They naturally pick up the feelings and energy of others and are influenced by people's moods, thoughts, desires, and wishes. They intuitively know the intentions and motivations of others. An empath overwhelmed by daily life can develop a fear of others, a disconnect from their body, and disdain for who they are. In short, they do not feel safe being themselves [3]

Empaths who are not aware and in control of their gift find that it can be a source of stress, pain, and anxiety. Feeling other people's emotions as their own can feel like a turbulent emotional roller coaster. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome these intense and overwhelming feelings such as boundaries, lifestyle adjustments, and self-care. I am a recovering overwhelmed empath and would be honored to help you or your child overcome this "burden" and turn it into a gift!

What is the difference?

All empaths are HSPs, but not all HSPs are empaths. Think of an empath being a person that meets all of the criteria of high sensitivity while having an additional set of abilities. An empath can physically feel other people's emotions, whereas HSPs merely senses them. Empaths are more vulnerable to absorbing negative energy and are more likely to be intuitive in nature.

How I can help if you identify with one or both of these traits:

The behaviors of a child/teen struggling with the big feels of being an HSP often look behavioral on the outside. If I identify the child as being an HSP, I can help parents understand what makes their child "too sensitive, worried, or stubborn" and it can be a game-changer. 

Is being highly sensitive the same as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)?

The short answer is "no." Read more about the differences here.

If a person does not know they are highly sensitive or does not understand how to take care of their unique needs, their day-to-day experiences can seem unbearable.

Take an Assessment created by Dr. Elaine Aron to see if you or your child has the characteristic traits of being Highly Sensitive:

HSP Assessment for Adults

HSP Assessment for Children

FAQ about HSP answered by Dr. Elaine Aron

More Information for Teens and Adults:

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

How Being Highly Sensitive Affects Your Love Life

27 Things You Do Because You're Highly Sensitive Person

What is an Empath and How Do You Know if You Are One?

'Empath and the Highly Sensitive' by Judy Dyer

'The Healed Empath' by Kristen Schwartz

More Information for Children:

Understanding the Highly Sensitive Child

Highly Sensitive Child Parenting Strategie

*Information provided by Dr. Elaine Aron and Judy Dyer

* New clients please call before scheduling an appointment

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