Highly Sensitive People

A Warm Welcome to All Our Fellow Highly Sensitive People

Whether you identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) or you’re simply curious about understanding and supporting someone who is, we’re here for you.

Constellations Counselling is the place in Vancouver, BC for HSPs and our mission is to provide you with expert guidance and support from a place of true empathy.

Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) comes with a rich tapestry of experiences – a keen perception of nuances, a deep ability to feel and empathize, and a thoughtful, introspective nature. Here, let’s talk about how understanding and embracing the traits of high sensitivity can actually enhance your overall well-being. And at the end of this page we have included some HSP-specific resources for you.

Highly sensitive people are those who possess an innate trait known as sensory processing sensitivity. This means your brain processes information at a deeper level, making you more attuned to subtleties in your environment and more emotionally responsive. You might feel more deeply, get overwhelmed easily, and require more time to recharge. The key to remember is that high sensitivity is not a flaw or disorder – it’s a natural trait possessed by approximately 20% of the population.

Empaths, on the other hand are particularly attuned to the emotions and energy of others so much so that at times it can feel all consuming.

Imagine a spectrum of empathy, with empaths at the highest end, highly sensitive people in the middle, and people with strong empathy but who are not HSPs or empaths a little lower on the spectrum. This distinction helps us better understand the varying levels of sensitivity and empathy that individuals may experience.

By knowing the differences between HSPs and empaths, you can gain a deeper understanding of your own unique traits and learn to manage your sensory input, emotions, and environment in a manner that promotes your holistic health and emotional wellbeing.

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If you’re a highly sensitive person, you may have noticed that your experience of the world is different from those around you.

One way to summarize the various aspects of high sensitivity is through the acronym DOES: Depth of processing, Overstimulation, Emotional responsivity/Empathy, and Sensitive to subtleties.

  • Depth of processing refers to your tendency to analyze information more deeply and thoroughly than others.
  • Overstimulation may manifest as feeling overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, or other forms of sensory input.
  • Emotional responsivity and empathy may cause you to feel emotions more intensely and have a heightened awareness of the emotions of others.
  • Sensitivity to subtleties may mean that you notice small details and changes in your environment that others may miss.

I want to be clear that being a HSP or empath does not constitute having a mental illness.

However, HSPs and empaths often experience challenges due to their sensitivities. Some of these sensitivities include but are not limited to:

  • Sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, and other forms of sensory input that can be overwhelming.
  • Sensitivity to the emotions of others and the energy of different environments, which can lead to feeling drained or overstimulated in certain social situations.
  • Sensitivity to criticism and negative feedback, which can be taken to heart and affect self-esteem.
  • Sensitivity to violent or negative media, such as movies or news stories, which can have a lasting impact on mood and well-being.
  • Sensitivity to change and transitions, which can be difficult to navigate and lead to feelings of anxiety or stress.
  • Sensitivity to one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, which can be both a gift and a challenge.
  • Sensitivity to subtleties in the environment, such as small changes in lighting, temperature, or energy, which can be noticed and affect mood and well-being.
  • Sensitivity to social injustice and a strong desire to make a positive impact in the world.

If you are not aware of being a Highly Sensitive Person or an empath, you may experience unexplained stress reactions leading to confusion, guilt, and self-blame, which can result in unhealthy coping mechanisms.

At Constellations Counselling our goal is to help you discover your true self as a sensitive person and provide you with the tools and resources to navigate your path with safety, confidence, and capability.

We view our sensitivities as a strength, but we understand that it may take some time for you to embrace your sensitive nature, and that is perfectly okay.

HSP Resources

The HSP Talk: Explaining Your HSP Trait with Loved Ones

Introduction Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) comes with a rich tapestry of experiences - a keen perception of nuances, a deep ability to feel and empathize, and a thoughtful, introspective nature. However, explaining this complex sensitivity to others can often feel like a daunting task. The...

Navigating Expectations in Relationships: A Reflective Practice for Highly Sensitive People

Life as a highly sensitive person (HSP) is like viewing the world in high definition. Your heightened sensitivity to your surroundings allows you to experience life's nuances in a way others may not, which can create deep, enriching relationships, but it also may lead to heightened expectations....

Six Essential Insights for Highly Sensitive People: Embracing Your Unique Strengths

Greetings, HSPs! As your local Vancouver counsellor who specializes in Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), I've been fortunate to witness the unique world through the eyes of many sensitive souls. At Constellations Counselling, we wholeheartedly believe that being an HSP isn't a limitation; it's an...

Resilience and the Highly Sensitive Person: Thriving in Our Vibrantly Intense World

Life, with its vibrancy and variability, is a rich tapestry of experiences that captivates us and pulls us in myriad directions. For Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), these experiences are deeply profound. Our exceptional ability to perceive and process the world around us allows us to approach...

Navigating the Overwhelming Burden of Responsibility as a Highly Sensitive Person

Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is resting solely on your shoulders? As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you possess a unique ability to empathize deeply with others and feel a strong sense of responsibility for their well-being. However, this emotional burden can become...

10 Self-Care Practices for Highly Sensitive People

As a highly sensitive person, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and drained by the demands of daily life. The world can be a challenging and often overstimulating place for those who are highly sensitive, and it's important to take care of yourself in order to maintain your mental and...

The Strength of Sensitivity: Navigating the World with Empathy, Insight, and Resilience as a Highly Sensitive Person

As a Vancouver counsellor at Constellations Counselling, I have seen many clients who identify as highly sensitive people. While being highly sensitive can sometimes present challenges, it is important to recognize that it can also be a strength. Let’s take some time and explore the unique...

The Power of Boundaries: Setting Limits for Self-Care as a Highly Sensitive Person

As a highly sensitive person, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by external stimuli and the demands of others which is why setting boundaries is crucial for self-care. In order to protect our emotional well-being and prevent burnout, it is important to set boundaries. But what are boundaries,...

Navigating Intense Emotions: Coping Techniques for Highly Sensitive People

As a highly sensitive person, navigating intense emotions can be a challenging task. The world can often feel overwhelming, and it’s easy to become swept up in a flood of feelings that seem impossible to manage. However, there are coping techniques that can help you manage your emotions and...

Dr. Elaine Aron is the originator of the ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ concept and describes HSPs as having a sensitive nervous system. HSPs are aware of subtleties in their environment and can can be easily overwhelmed in a highly stimulating environment. Take Dr. Aron’s self-assessment for HSPs.

Research by Dr. Arthur Aron and Dr. Elaine Aron, the originator of HSP, has shown the different ways HSPs process emotion, awareness, and empathy through MRIs. Twenty percent of the population is genetically pre-disposed to empathy. “We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity,” said Dr. Aron.

Empaths Resources

Dr. Judith Orloff is an expert on empaths and describes empaths as those who feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms due to their high sensitivities. They are incredibly intuitive and often have a difficult time sorting out their feelings. Dr. Orloff has a free self-assessment to find out if you are an empath.

Dr. Orloff writes about the differences between empaths and HSPs in her blog.

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