Highly sensitive people are particularly sensitive, which presents both challenges and enrichments. Through tens of thousands of therapy hours, we have learned a lot about how challenges can be lifted and the challenges limited.
In this article, we share our experiences with this work.
Treatment for high sensitivity?
First we would like to emphasize that hypersensitivity is not in itself something one should “treat”.
But a highly sensitive person, like everyone else, can have a number of life difficulties and internal unresolved conflicts that can be helpful in getting help for.
As a hypersensitive person you can also be more deeply affected by all things, good or bad. This can be beautiful and can bring you, in many ways, in closer contact with life itself.
But it also can present challenges.
It has been our experience that acceptance, consideration and appreciation for hypersensitivity are basic prerequisites. Then we can work with the difficulties that hypersensitive people, like everyone else, can have.
But which you may be more strongly affected by.
The good news is that you can also be more strongly affected by a positive therapeutic experience.
After reading this article, you can hopefully more easily decide if treatment with a psychologist is right for you.
Does treatment help?
How do you navigate the gap between acceptance and change? What are unchangeable qualities and what are mutable coping strategies?
Later in this article we will also give insight into what kind of help you can expect from us and how we view hypersensitivity.
If you have already decided to give therapy a try, you can easily schedule an appointment via our online booking system.
Within the first few sessions you will gain a clear understanding of how much therapy with us can or cannot help you.
We offer video therapy to people across the country. You can view a video, where we share our experiences with video therapy, in the booking section accessible above.
Highly sensitive people in therapy - what can we help with?
Here is a quick overview of some of the themes that have been especially relevant for the highly sensitive people we have worked with.
- Am I highly sensitive?
- How can I value and utilize sensitivity?
- How can I cultivate acceptance and self-compassion?
- What expectations are reasonable to have for my surroundings?
- How can I delimit myself?
- How do I regulate my feelings?
- How can I handle difficult situations with greater inner calm, power and strength?
- Do I have unresolved emotional conflicts?
- Do I have a low tolerance for certain emotions?
- Am I sensitive towards others but insensitive towards myself?
- Am I sensitive and/or do I have anxiety?
- Do I get caught up in other people’s moods and/or incorporate them into my own?
- Do I have special abilities?
The list goes on. During the first sessions, we will attempt to map the problematics that are relevant for exactly you - and keep the focus there.
Before we look closer at some of the points above we will discuss some of our perspectives concerning hypersensitive people.
Highly sensitive as a concept of advantages and disadvantages
We have experienced that for many of those who seek treatment with us, high sensitivity has been a very useful concept, while for some it has also been limiting.
In treatment with us you can get help to sort through all this and how it relates to you.
It often comes as a great relief for people to recognize themselves in the term, and for many it can help all the pieces fall into place. This concept can also help people accept another aspect of themselves that they may have been fighting against for years.
It can, in itself, be demanding to be extra sensitive, and many also experience that hypersensitivity does not fit with external expectations and the idea of being “grown-up”.
This concept allows us to emphasize and accept the variances of degrees of sensitivity that naturally exist amongst individuals and reveals the importance of this being appreciated - first and foremost by ourselves, but also in one’s environment.
This is important in order to have a better life, a life with the challenges that an especially sensitive personality is associated with, and to be able to embrace possibility.
Hypersensitivity as a limiting concept?
The reason that this term can be limiting is mainly connected to two factors: Firstly, the term is very broad.
Self-diagnosis tests online involve many (potentially) various phenomena that are defined under the umbrella term of hypersensitivity.
Hypersensitivity can thus be used as a broad explanation for a variety of difficulties one may be experiencing.
We have seen that many challenges faced by hypersensitive individuals are not necessarily the fault of the sensitivity in itself.
If you can, for example, interpret and process other people’s signals on a level that can almost seem overwhelming, this is a manifestation of sensitivity.
At the same time, such potential for sensitivity does not necessarily lead to excessive self-censorship and adaptation to others.
For this to happen one needs sensitivity as well as an inner conflict you are on the losing end of.
We can help you treat this inner conflict through therapy sessions.
High sensitivity: Different subgroups must be treated differently.
Those we have worked with, who have been categorized as hypersensitive via online self-diagnostic tools, are naturally all unique individuals.
Some seem to have been born especially sensitive - and raised in a normally stable and supportive environment.
Some seem to have been born with a “normal” range of sensitivity but have been especially challenged by various conditions they were raised in - and end up being labeled as hypersensitive on online tests.
Some have been born especially sensitive and have also experienced a particularly challenging childhood. Their innate and primal sensitivity is neither easy, nor desirable, to change.
But one can learn to relate to it in a more constructive manner.
And above all: you can get help to dissolve the inner knots that have been present during your maturation and development, knots which can in themselves trigger positive results on hypersensitivity tests.
You can read more about how we believe psychotherapy can help.
How are inner conflicts in hypersensitive individuals treated?
Many hypersensitive people have grown up with various emotional vices - often in the space between needs of the self and needs of others.
Or in other ways via unresolvable conflicts of loyalty between conflicting feelings regarding important people in their lives.
Others have, from a young age, been given too much responsibility, directly or subtly, by themselves or others.
Many have experienced degrees of role-reversal in connection to their primary caregivers. Or primary caregivers who have had difficulties in practicing self-care.
Perhaps in the context of a destructive romantic relationship with unclear boundaries, tendency towards guilt transference, victim mentality etc.
Many have been exposed to great emotional pain in others or lived in an emotional atmosphere characterized by latent instability.
There need not be any visible dramatics at all. The commonality is that one has become stuck in strong, emotional tensions.
Growing up always involves a certain degree of compromise between authenticity and attachment.
We are dependent on being able to follow our gut feelings and spontaneity - but also need secure relationships with others.
As children we are completely at the mercy of this.
When a child’s response to emotional tensions is to become hyperaware to the external world - and overcontrolling internally, this can secure attachment and thus survival.
But this system that is formed needs updating. Adaptation has perhaps been at the price of authenticity.
This is where therapy with a psychologist comes into play.
You can read more about how psychological treatment for hypersensitivity can prove helpful at psykologisk.no
Help with psychological defense mechanisms
Do you recognize yourself in any of what we have discussed above, or have you been forced in other ways to navigate a demanding emotional landscape from a young age?
Then it is very possible that one of our ISTDP (intensive depth therapy) therapists can help you become more secure and robust in a variety of areas.
The majority of those we have worked with have noticed that, by practicing anxiety and emotional tolerance in therapy, they have gained greater inner calm, strength and power.
This often involves being able to better tolerate your own boundary enforcing feelings towards others.
Some people who are hypersensitive are characterized by that negative emotions towards others, especially anger, become merged with feelings of anxiety and guilt.
This fusion is completely possible to break with systematic therapeutic work. It doesn't have to take many sessions either.
Elements such as self-criticism and feeling that others view you negatively - which prominent people have highlighted as examples of hypersensitivity - have nothing whatsoever to do with innate sensitivity.
These are burdensome defense mechanisms in the psyche that one can get help to weaken, and sometimes remove, through psychological treatment.
If you do not have health insurance or cannot pay for a private psychologist, we have made a complete guide over how to find a psychologist in Oslo.
Why am I so sensitive?
We know, from decades of research, that infants separate themselves as individuals through a variety of traits that are already in evidence as newborns. Some are obviously more sensitive than others.
But, in the manner it is defined via online self-diagnostic tools, there exists no such solid research to support the term hypersensitive,
Hypersensitivity, when used as such, is too broad and imprecise and involves highly different phenomena.
But researchers have, for many years, investigated a number of more limited traits in children that fall under the concept of a child’s “temperament”.
This concept refers to a child’s natural behavioral disposition that is present already as a newborn.
For example, we know that infants have great natural variation in what is called “emotional reactivity”, which is how they approach challenges, new stimulus and how much they seek out things externally and internally - and much more.
Several of these various, limiting temperamental traits may fit under the concept of hypersensitivity. Some children are sensitive, others are robust.
Still others have a mix of sensitivity and robustness in various sub-areas. And, not least, we know that innate tendencies are extremely affected by the child's environment.
Interactional affects between a child and an environment’s tendencies are decisive for the further path of development for a child.
In an environment where sensitivity is appreciated and valued, the road ahead becomes easier, and vice versa.
An important point to make here is that a sensitive child will gain extra benefits from a stimulating and safe childhood environment. They are also more severely impacted by damaging aspects of a childhood environment.
Hypersensitivity with Psykologvirke - treatment in the space between acceptance and change
Research, as well as our own personal experiences in our work with hypersensitivity, gives a far more cohesive picture of the various forms of sensitivity and changeability than one might get the impression of through various other channels.
Once you have a precise understanding of what is what in exactly your case, it becomes easier to navigate the gap between acceptance and change.
If you want to give it a try, you can easily schedule an appointment online. We bring our entire selves and the best of psychological expertise to our patients.
You are more than welcome at our offices!
For a stimulating perspective on hypersensitivity, the following link to the world’s most popular psychology podcast (Shrink Rap Radio) may be of interest.