Clients with highly sensitive symptoms
Sensitivity is a trait found in ca. 20% of humans – men and women. There are as many sensitive men as women, but men hide this trait more, and have more difficulty accepting it. It looks like sensitivity is a result of processing the information one is exposed to carefully, before acting on it. This deep processing result in awareness of the subtleties of the situations, and it brings overstimulation as an effect of it.
Persons with highly sensitive symptoms need to be aware of four important factors:
Over arousability, depth in processing the information, emotional intensity, sensory sensitivity
It is important to understand that sensitivity used in this sense does not mean the same as being caring or feeling responsible for others or being hypersensitive to criticism. It means more than that, and is about these earlier mentioned 4 parameters.
Following is a list of distinguishing characteristics which are a result of the deep processing. No sensitive person will have all of these characteristics, but a broad variety of them, as opposed to having a few.
- Preferring to be on the side of a situation before involvement into it: ‘I like to check things out first – see what I am getting into’
- Awareness of small changes: ‘That picture (carpet, hair style) is new, isn’t it?
- Wanting to consider every detail before acting –‘do it once and do it right’ – as opposed to the others tendency to decide quickly: ‘I am terrible of making decisions’, or ‘I am a real perfectionist’
- Awareness of thoughts and emotions of others, due to gaining more information from nonverbal cues; intuiting the likely effects of a situation on others: ‘I am really affected by other people’s moods’
- Acting more conscientiously due to being heavily attuned to causes and consequences: ‘What if everybody left their trash behind?’ or ‘ If I don’t finish my work in time I will be slowing others down’
- Having unusual concern about social justice, environment, animal rights and expressing an unusual degree of compassion from childhood: ‘I was trying to get others understand about global warming for years’
- Being easily overstimulated and therefore easily over aroused. For anyone more stimulation and more over arousal leads to poor performance. But sensitive persons are over aroused sooner by less stimulation (public speaking, being trained or under observation, timed tests, places that are crowded or noisy, etc.): ‘I just can’t take tests’.
- Being gifted, artistic, or passionate about arts
- Having a strong interest in spiritual practices and are often involved in a specific practice
- Reporting a greater emotional reaction to events that evoke the similar but less intense emotions for others: ’Everyone was upset, but I was devastated’
- Noticing unusual distress due to change: ‘I had no idea moving would be so upsetting’
- Recalling this characteristic occurring first in childhood: ‘Everyone said I was really sensitive’
- Reporting unusually vivid dreams
- Complaining about over stimulating or unaesthetic environment: ‘I can’t stand fluorescent lights’
- Having physical sensitivities and greater sensitivity to pain and stimulants: ‘My doctor finds it hard to believe that I can notice anything from such a low dose, but I do’
- Finding that nature has an unusually healing effect, or being more moved by its beauty. Fond of animals, plants or being near or in water.
The source of the previous information is: Elaine N. Aron, ‘Psychotherapy and the highly sensitive person, Improving outcomes for that minority of people who are the majority of clients’, Routledge, 2010.
The author has published several books and articles on the highly sensitive person, and her work is the theoretic base for my work with highly sensitive clients.
What issues/problems highly sensitive clients are coming with?
* stress symptoms: experiencing the everyday life as a highly sensitive person can cause a lot of pressure and can become overwhelming.
* depression symptoms: the result of missing the joy of the everyday life, life becomes a struggle
* self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence issues: as general relation to self, becomes challenging
* work problems or challenging social situations, as well as family issues
* addiction issues
In my work, I help highly sensitive clients to develop a good understanding of the four earlier mentioned factors (e.g.: overarousability, depth in processing information, emotional and sensory sensitivity) in specific situations they are experiencing. Furthermore we find the best tools and coping strategies for these and similar situations. Because of the sensitivity towards other’s reactions, these clients have often challenges regarding self-confidence and self-respect. Therefore working with relationship with Self (understanding and respect for personal boundaries) and self-empowering is another important part of the therapeutic work. During our work together, we redefine high sensitivity together with the client, so it is not seen as a problem, but rather as a situation which has both positive and challenging sides. The therapeutic tools will help the clients to manage their emotions, develop satisfactory relationships and to create a manageable and fulfilling work environment.