I am very happy to report about a new article published in the latest Sussex Counselling newsletter about therapy for highly sensitive people
Why is this such a good news? The innate trait of sensory processing sensitivity (the clinical term for high sensitivity) can be found in 15-20% of people. This means that it is present in around 13 million people in the UK alone! Although there are plenty of research validates that it is a real and NORMAL variation amongst people – but alas it does not mean that therapists have learned about this – yet. Due to this, they can easily pathologise what is normal for about 20% of people – and around 50% of therapy clients!
It is perfectly normal for example for highly sensitive people (HSP for short) to prefer one to one conversations that are meaningful to superficial chats in parties. Or needing plenty of breaks between activities and quiet downtime spent in solitude. HSPs notice much more about what is going on in their environment, which gives them plenty to reflect on and process afterwards. This takes time and energy. They are a lot more aware about other people’s feelings and can “read between the lines” easily, so they can have a lot more intense emotional responses to events than the majority of the people, who are not as observant. When therapists do not know about what is normal for highly sensitive people, they can try to fix things about them that is not changeable instead of focusing on issues that can be improved. It makes a big difference to spend your time, energy (and money!) on goals that are doable, instead of wasting it on aiming the impossible. As the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr so wisely suggested in his much quoted prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Having the highly sensitive trait seems to lead to drastically varied lives. They can become competent, caring leaders or can be highly impaired by emotional or mental health issues. Therapists can play a role in these outcomes, beginning with how they see and label HSPs – and how they explain it to others. It can make a huge difference if instead of seeing you as too quiet, shy, inhibited or overemotional they perhaps consider you having sensory processing sensitivity. I have not met any HSPs yet, who have not benefited from learning about their trait and understand what is perfectly normal for them. I hope the publication of this article will mean that many more of you will have the chance of benefiting from learning about high sensitivity and how to live well with this trait.
You can find Therapists or Helping Professionals aware of the highly sensitive trait in the UK:
– on my webpage at Links for HSPs.
– or at the NCHS Directory for HSP professionals at: http://www.hspsensitive.com/directory/.
There is also an ever growing worldwide listing of HSP- knowledgeable Therapists and Coaches on Dr. Elaine Aron’s website, where you can also find extensive listing of the relevant research about sensory processing sensitivity.