Karen Jeffrey, RP, MA Psych, BSc Pharm
Therapy for the Highly Sensitive Person
Your guide to getting the most from therapy if you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a trait that describes an individual's heightened awareness and responsiveness to sensory stimuli. People with SPS, known as Highly Sensitive Person(s) (HSPs), may experience intense emotional reactions to things like loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells, although this is not true for all HSPs. This sensitivity can also lead to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and even physical discomfort.
While SPS is not a disorder or condition that requires treatment, it can be challenging to manage on a daily basis. It can also leave people feeling like they are different or don't fit in. Therapy can be a helpful tool for people with SPS to learn coping strategies and develop a better understanding of themselves and their needs.
Here are some ways that therapy can help with sensory processing sensitivity:
Developing coping strategies: A therapist can work with HSPs to identify triggers and develop coping strategies to manage overwhelming sensory experiences. For example, they might teach relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, or suggest using sensory tools like noise-cancelling headphones or weighted blankets.
Understanding and accepting the trait of SPS: Many people with SPS may feel like they are "too sensitive" or that something is wrong with them. A therapist can help them understand that SPS is a normal variation in human temperament and not a weakness or flaw. This can lead to greater self-acceptance and self-esteem.
Building resilience: HSPs may be more prone to stress and anxiety due to their heightened sensitivity. Therapy can help build resilience by teaching skills like mindfulness, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. These skills can help someone with SPS manage stress and cope with challenges more effectively.
Enhancing relationships: SPS can impact how someone interacts with others, particularly in social situations. Therapy can help someone with SPS improve their communication skills, set boundaries, and navigate social situations with greater ease. This can lead to stronger and more fulfilling relationships.
Exploring underlying issues: Sometimes, SPS may be a symptom of underlying issues like trauma, anxiety disorders, or depression. A therapist can help someone with SPS explore these issues and develop a treatment plan to address them. This can lead to greater overall well-being and a reduction in SPS symptoms.
Therapy can be a valuable tool for highly sensitive people to learn coping strategies, develop self-understanding, build resilience, enhance relationships, and explore underlying issues. By working with a qualified therapist, preferable one with similar lived experience, a HSP can learn to manage their sensitivity and live a more fulfilling and balanced life.
If you have any questions or wanting to book a session with a Highly Sensitive Therapist, please contact me at email@example.com or 647-370-5996.