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Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

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Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Lauren Rodgers (MA, LCAS, LCMHC, CMHIMP, CCATP) is Verified by Psychology Today.

Have you been told you’re too sensitive?

Am I a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

It turns out years of research, stemming from Dr. Elaine Aron and others dating back to 1991, has found that there is actually a personality type to explain this pattern. Aron coined the trait, “Highly Sensitive Person” to describe a set of traits. These traits include being highly sensitive to physical environments, emotional or sensory stimuli.

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Signs You May Be A Highly Sensitive Person

Signs that you may be a highly sensitive person (hsp) include:

  1. You process information at a deeper level than most and highly contentious. You may be perceived by others being an “over-thinker”, “perfectionist”, or “people-pleaser”. For example, you may take time to make a decision to move, making a list, considering all the options carefully, considering its impact on all those around you, and speaking to several people before deciding.
  2. You are highly intuitive and empathetic to other’s emotions. You have sensitivity to subtle cues in their environment or other’s emotions.  For example, you are great at reading a room or a person for subtle cues others don’t notice such as changes.
  3. You are more sensitive to physical stimuli (think 5-senses). For example, you easily feel over-stimulated by being in a large crowd, even if they are extroverted. You may also have a faster startle response and be sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine or other medications.
  4. You may have a greater emotional reaction to events. For example, something bad happens and everyone is upset by it but you are devastated.
  5. You may resonate with being “codependent” without meeting the criteria of enabling or colluding with someone else’s unhealthy behavior. [Learn More About Codependency]
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What does it mean to be a highly sensitive person?

People who are highly sensitive have been found to have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as allergies, asthma and eczema.

Highly sensitive people tend to experience emotions intensely and become overwhelmed by them.

  1. Difficulty setting healthy boundaries with others, leaning towards passivity
  2. Struggle with feelings of guilt and fail to prioritize their needs
  3. Difficulty making quick decisions and are more affected by change or transitions
  4. Struggle with burnout and change careers more frequently
  5. May be bored in relationship more easily, leads to delayed millstones such as marriage
  6. People who are highly sensitive may grapple with low-self-esteem and;
  7. Social anxiety, as well as having a dislike for small talk or superficial relationships

Being over-stimulated to sensory environments can add to the social isolation and the feeling of being misunderstood.

Important Distinctions

It’s important to note that not all HSP’s are introverted, but their sensitivities may cause them to tend to find solace in their alone time.  HSP’s can be male or female but due to social constructs, males with HSP tend to have lower score on the HSP scale.

HSP is not a disorder but a personality type, which means it cannot be “cured” but therapy can be effective in helping people learn to cope with the impacts of being highly sensitive.  Also, being an HSP is not a result of childhood trauma, although, HSP may be more impacted by a troubled childhood due to feeling more deeply.

Positive Qualities of HSPs

There are many positive qualities that can be part of having a highly sensitive personality.

Being highly intuitive and perceptive can be very useful in social situations and allow you to be highly adaptive.  Due to feeling emotions more deeply, including positive emotions, HSP’s often move into feeling positive emotions more quickly than others.  They therefore, tend to progress more rapidly in therapy, finding healing in a shorter amount of time.

HSP’s have a deep love and appreciation for nature, animals, art, and music because they experience them more vividly.  They also tend to be creative and imaginative, which can allow them to express themselves in health outlets and may have a positive impact on their career.

Highly Sensitive Persons are conscientious and thoughtful, empathetic, and caring, making them great partner, co-workers, and friends and are capable of having rich relationships.

Women's Integrative Counseling

Lauren Rodgers, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Lauren Rodgers Verified by Psychology Today

Lauren Rodgers

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

As a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor I am eager to assist you in your path to self-discovery. I’ve received specialized training as a Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP) as well as a Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider (CMHIMP).

I have a passion for helping women who struggle with anxiety and codependency find peace and self-love. I provide individual therapy for teens (14+), millennials, college students, and adults. Let’s discuss your goals during your free consultation.


Do you have questions about therapy? We are here to answer your questions and show you how therapy can enhance your life. Use the link to view our calendar and schedule your free consultation now!

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