The Biggest Challenge for a Highly Sensitive Therapist
Being a psychotherapist as a Highly Sensitive Person often feels like an idyllic career path. Our strengths of perception and empathy are perfectly aligned with being able to offer support to our clients on their journeys of self-exploration and healing. Also, we have the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to work that is meaningful and impactful on a daily basis. This scenario sounds ideal, but the reality of being a Highly Sensitive Therapist can look much different.
What is the biggest challenge for the Highly Sensitive Therapist (HST)?
Last week, I asked my online community of over 600 HSTs this exact question. The overall consensus was a common experience of physical and mental exhaustion. Supporting others through various struggles, traumas and life transitions takes a considerable amount of energy, but even more so for the Highly Sensitive Therapist. One of the primary reasons for this increased level of depletion is our brain’s capacity to process information deeply and thoroughly.
This depth of processing allows us to notice more subtleties, connect information to similar items from the past and have more active insulas which integrate internal and external events. During every moment, our brains are hard at work. This is an incredible gift as we help clients uncover past experiences and process emotional events, but takes a lot of brain power. Doesn’t it make sense that you are more likely to feel exhausted, even when working less hours than your non-HSP colleagues?
Due to our Depth of Processing and tendency towards overstimulation, there are other factors that lead to exhaustion such as:
- Scheduling too many sessions per day or seeing too many clients back-to-back.
- Not having enough time between sessions or taking an adequate lunch break.
- Working with non-ideal clients who drain our energy.
- Having an uncomfortable or overstimulating office environment.
- Being deeply impacted by the emotional experiences of our clients.
- Creating a practice by non-HST standards.
How can we feel more energized?
The answer to this question is quite simple, but so challenging in our fast-paced environment and tendency towards perfectionism. WE MUST REST MORE. In order to feel more energized, we need to reduce the amount of information and input we give our brains to process. This means taking more downtime and incorporating more quiet into our day. Below are a few examples:
- Consider lengthening break time between clients and reducing back-to-back sessions so that you have enough time to reset your nervous system.
- Take a long lunch break every day.
- Identify and focus on building a practice with your ideal clients who will feed you rather than deplete you.
- Get clear on what your maximum number of sessions are per day and per week. This is the amount of sessions that allow you to leave the office with enough energy leftover to enjoy your evening.
- Set your fee to reflect the amount of sessions that are sustainable for you to work per week. Raising your fee will allow you to reduce your overall number of sessions in order to do your best work.
- Create an office space where you feel most at ease to reduce overstimulation.
Our ability to process information deeply and make connections for our clients is a great strength as Highly Sensitive Therapists, but can lead to chronic exhaustion. Managing this depletion can be as straight forward as implementing more downtime into our day and setting up our businesses to match the needs of our temperament.
Next week, I will be diving into another big struggle for Highly Sensitive Therapists which is the emotional intensity of supporting the various experiences of our clients. What is your biggest challenge as an HST? Tell me by filling out the contact form below.