Sensory Processing Sensitivity & Being a Highly Sensitive Person

 In Psychotherapy, Toronto Therapist

Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SNS) and Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)

Have you often thought of yourself or have been told that you’re “too emotional”? Maybe you’re more impacted or emotionally moved by movies, shows or music than many others seem to be.

Do you find that you are easily over-stimulated by loud or too many different sounds and voices or too many things to visually look at? Maybe you take very special care to try to control or manage avoidable experiences and situations.

Or perhaps you feel that you’re more attuned to the feelings of others and often find that you need time away from people because it can be exhausting?

These are just a few signs that you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) with a high level of Sensory Processing Sensitivity.

Being highly sensitive is a biological and prominent temperament trait where an individual processes information with a higher degree of depth of which approximately 20% of people are born.

The following is a description provided by

It is a neutral trait that evolved in 20% of the human population and many non-human species as well, because it is a survival advantage in some situations and not in others. Their survival strategy is to process information (stimuli) more thoroughly than others do, for which there is considerable evidence.

This can certainly lead to overstimulation and possibly efforts to protect one’s self against that. However, Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is not a disorder, but a reasonable strategy.

Further, HSPs process stimuli in a highly organized, big picture way, which includes awareness of nuances and subtleties that others might not notice. Again, at times, HSPs can become extremely overstimulated by the sheer amount of information they may be asked to process.

Non-HSPs in our society, who make up about 80% of the general population, do not experience the same level of overstimulation that causes distress to HSPs, and therefore we might say that the amount of stimulation in the environment is set up for the other 80%, not for HSPs.

Without an understanding and learning of how to best live with a prominent biological trait such as Sensory Processing Sensitivity, it can literally be overwhelming from a sensory perspective for HSPs — Especially in a world that is set up for those 80% who are not as prone to the level of sensory sensitivity as HSPs.

For instance, athletic ability is a prominent trait for some individuals. However, athletic ability is often more widely understood and even celebrated, and can be easier to spot, hone and coach.

And just like an athletics coach (but more therapeutically), as a HSP-Knowledgable Professional as recognized by Dr. Elaine Aron’s organization, I help adults and parents of children who are highly sensitive with Sensory Processing Sensitivity to understand, accept and best utilize being highly sensitive to live with more ease, thrive and connect in all areas of life.

Together, we can help you with…

• Moving with more ease through worries or getting stuck in a thought, feeling or decision
• Being able to harness your feelings and thoughts at work, home, in personal situations and relationships in ways that are more manageable and productive in your life
• Understanding yourself and your sensory processing sensitivity in relation to your external life in a more helpful and meaningful way

What do these things mean in more concrete terms?

Perhaps you have found that there are areas of your life that are not working as well for you as you’d like due to your Sensory Processing Sensitivity.

It could be at work due to your work environment, colleagues or managers.

It could be your family with whom you may not share the Sensory Processing Sensitivity trait.

Similarly, it could be with your friends and romantic relationships with whom you’ve noticed differences in sensitivity.

By better understanding and knowing how to internally organize your Sensory Processing Sensitivity, you can learn to more easily navigate these situations and relationships in your life, while also learning to feel less overwhelmingly stimulated by these situations.

If you are looking to be more at ease and learn to harness your highly sensitive nature to flourish, I provide in-person (Toronto, Ontario) and online coaching (internationally in English) and guidance to support you to achieve your goals.

If you would like to learn more, listen to an episode of my Life Stuff 101 podcast where I discuss being HSP and therapy for HSPs with fellow HSP therapist, April Snow:

Dr. Elaine Aron has been studying high sensitivity in 1991 and has written the book most often referred to in the area of HSP, The Highly Sensitive Person. To find out more, you may wish to visit her website here.

If you think you may be a Highly Sensitive Person, you have probably already felt that the details provided on this page resonate for you.

However, you may also wish to take this online quiz provided on Dr. Aron’s Highly Sensitive Persons site.

While it is not meant to be a diagnostic tool, it might help to provide some additional context and/or understanding of Sensory Processing Sensitivity in relation to you.

Please contact me to schedule a reduced fee first session to give you and I the opportunity to determine if I am the right therapist for you. 

I can be reached by using the contact form, telephone at 647-931-5520 and by email Mio Yokoi, RP & HSP-Knowledgeable Professional.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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