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  • Janet Ashfield

What on Earth is a Highly Sensitive Person?

Updated: Jun 11

We live in a society where sensitive people are told to stop being sensitive. Yet, it is insensitive people who are told to be more sensitive!

Dr Elaine Aron has clinically identified a set of traits that stem from having a sensitive system, rather than it being a mental health condition, flaw or syndrome, HSP’s do not need fixing. These traits relate to 15 - 20% of the population... Too many to be a disorder.

Just a few common attributes, behaviours and characteristics of HSPs include:

  • HSPs are often more aware of subtleties in their environment and become overstimulated more quickly than others

  • HSPs tend to be easily startled and often feel overwhelmed by loud sensory input, violent films or large crowds

  • HSPs are often sensitive to loud noises, strong scents, coarse fabrics or bright lights

  • HSPs tend to be "cooperative," rather than "competitive," and often underperform in highly competitive environments

  • HSPs are highly empathetic and frequently "pick up moods" from other people

  • About 70% of HSPs are introverted, while about 30% are extroverted. All of them tend to have rich inner lives and show a tendency to think deeply about the world, others and their lives

  • HSPs are often drawn to the arts, music, nature and spirituality and quickly have an emotional reaction to images of beauty, but also violence or horror

You can read more on Dr Aron’s web site and take the HSP test.

See how it resonates with you. Maybe this could this offer new some of the questions about your life?

There is a lot of information on Elaine’s and other websites to help you understand thee trait better. I know and have worked with Barbara Allen Williams for about 15 years, to develop my learning about HSP. If a client of mine wanted therapeutic counselling I would support them to find the right person to meet their needs.



In my LEAP programme and in Empowerment Coaching, I will get people to take the HSP test, if I notice they have HSP traits as we work together.

Without a doubt every person is overjoyed to find out the reason they feel the way they do and also understand the way they get treated by others too. This revelation helps HSP’s to protect themselves, make life changes and become far more comfortable with who they are. In my Mindfulness and Meditation Classes you will find some HSPs revelling in the quiet, kindness, focus and contemplation.

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