Sensory Processing Sensitivity
High sensitivity is an innate genetic trait. It is found in up to 20% of people (and at least 100 species of animals). Being sensitive is just a temperament, it’s not a diagnosis. Dr. Elaine Aron has researched the trait extensively. She and others have produced a significant amount of research showing clear differences between sensitive people and those who are not.
The world benefits from having many different kinds of people in it. Sensitive people tend to be empathetic, thoughtful, intuitive, creative, notice lots of subtle details, deep feeling, and conscientious. There are so many gifts to being sensitive. There are also challenges that we can experience as well, such as unhealthy perfectionism, taking on other peoples’ feelings like they’re ours, struggling to manage our big feelings, being easily overwhelmed which can lead to feeling anxious, and needing a lot space and quiet to unwind. (This is different than being introverted, although 70% of sensitive people are also introverted and 30% are extroverted.) The trait of sensitivity exists in women and men equally, according to researchers.
As a therapist specializing in supporting sensitive people, I do what most licensed mental health therapists do to help people dealing with relationship issues, parenting challenges, anxiety, depression, etc., yet I also use strategies, teach coping skills, and provide information to best meet a sensitive person’s needs. Please ask me more about this if you’re curious.
“By noticing and processing so many details around them — not to mention their own internal thoughts — highly sensitive people are doing far more cognitive work than most others. Being overstimulated and frazzled is something anyone can identify with, but for HSPs, it happens much more easily.”
— Andre Sólo, The Highly Sensitive Refuge
Are you wondering if you are Highly Sensitive?
Here’s a link to take Dr. Elaine Aron’s self-test.