Tailored Support for Highly Sensitive People
I offer specialized support for those who recognize themselves as a highly sensitive person (HSP).
Clinical psychologist Elaine Aron, Ph.D., paved the way for the current understanding of what it means to be a highly sensitive person with her book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive When the World Overwhelms You and other books tailored to parenting, love relationships and more. Her website, The Highly Sensitive Person, offers many resources.
Based on the research of Dr. Aron’s research, high sensitivity is a trait related to deep processing found in about 20% of the population. About 70% of highly sensitive people are introverts. A highly sensitive person (HSP):
Is highly observant of subtleties
Is more bothered by high levels of stimulation such as loud noises, crowded places, extreme temperatures, etc.
Has strong emotional responses
Needs more downtime
Is usually thoughtful and observant
May have vivid dreams and nightmares
May be very creative or artistic
May have special relationships with nature and animals
May take longer to make decisions, but may uncover considerations that others don’t, resulting generally in good decisions
May face workplace challenges related to finding a supportive environment, meaningful work, and navigating pressures from others
May feel “different,” and struggle with low self-esteem until better understanding the trait and ways to cope and live a more empowered life.
(Source: Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron)
Intuitive psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff has created a body of work dedicated to supporting empaths, highly sensitive people who empathize to a very high degree with the people they are around and the environment they are in. According to Dr. Orloff in The Empath’s Survival Guide, empaths:
Feel everything, often to an extreme
Have little guard up between themselves and others
Are often overwhelmed by excessive stimulation
Are prone to exhaustion and sensory overload
Have a more reactive neurological system and are therefore “super responders”
Absorb both the stress and the joy of the world.
Having these qualities can mean that life sometimes feels overwhelming, that you become exhausted, or you feel “different” from most of the people around you. You may struggle with over-empathizing with family members, friends, or relationship partners until you feel completely depleted. You may struggle with accepting yourself and the way you relate to the world, wrestling with low-self esteem. You may have chronic health conditions and feel like you’re treading water to stay healthy.
Identifying that you are an HSP or empath can help you better recognize the ways you are affected by how you process the world around you, whether in relationships or at work. Being highly sensitive is not a disorder and brings with it valuable qualities. It is so important to recognize and validate the strengths that often go along with being highly sensitive, such as conscientiousness, empathy, perception, intuition, deep understanding, and more.
The work of Drs. Aron and Orloff has been instrumental in my own understanding of what it means to be a highly sensitive person and how to develop coping skills to thrive with this orientation to the world. I draw from Dr. Aron’s books and resources in supporting clients who are highly sensitive and recently completed a program to become an "HSP-Knowledgable Therapist" listed in Dr. Aron's provider directory. I have also completed an in-depth training with Dr. Orloff and draw from her books and resources to provide support to empaths.
As a therapist and highly sensitive person myself, my goal is to help other HSPs recognize their strengths and gifts, gain self-acceptance, and live in a more peaceful and empowered way. Receiving the support you need to better understand yourself as an HSP can be life-changing, something I’ve experienced myself in therapy and in working with outstanding teachers and trainers.
In receiving this type of support, clients often find themselves moving towards deeper self-knowledge and self-acceptance, increased emotional freedom, healthier relationships, and increased clarity about what kind of work and workplace are a good fit.
If you relate to some or all of these descriptions of how highly sensitive people experience the world, and would like to experience the benefits of tailored support for your needs, please reach out. We can work together to explore how you can live a healthier, more peaceful, and empowered life.
Dreams can help us gain insight into ourselves, the world we live in, and even the possibilities for our life that remain to be uncovered. Highly sensitive people often have vivid dreams. My approach to dreamwork in therapy is to accompany you on a journey of discovery. I seek to provide a safe and supportive space for exploration and processing of dream content.
I believe the most important interpretation of any dream is what it means to the client in their own context, and follow the client’s lead in how deeply they would like to dive in to dreamwork. Nightmares are not off-limits here: the hardest dreams often provide the greatest reward once they can be approached. Having support to do this work can make all the difference.
As a lifelong dreamer, I’ve been on a long journey of exploration myself and have embarked on study and training to support my own wellbeing through dreams and to guide others in this area. I am a certified Level 1 Dream Teacher through the Robert Moss School of Active Dreaming. This intensive training includes techniques for individual and group dreamwork focused on bringing through healing and creativity for both individuals and communities. I have also completed in-depth training on working with dreams with intuitive psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD.
As Robert Moss says, “dreams tell us more than we already know.” There is value embracing the wisdom of dreams as a resource that can benefit our health, emotional wellbeing, work life, and creativity. If you’re not currently remembering your dreams but would like to, we can talk about techniques to jumpstart your dream life, including journaling and other approaches to remembering.
I look forward to walking with you in exploring dreams as a source of healing and growth.
The natural world offers much in the way of healing, from a quieter place to reconnect with feelings, to a guide for experiencing the seasons of life, and a chance to observe and relate to wildlife, the landscape, and natural phenomena. Experiencing nature and exploring ways to care for nature can both be great sources of healing and meaning.
I am certified in ecopsychology, an approach that combines ecology and psychology to consider how human wellbeing and the health of the natural world fit together. I invite clients to discuss their experiences with nature whenever it is meaningful for them to do so.
Nature Walk and Talk Therapy
I now offer Nature Walk and Talk Therapy for clients in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area. We meet up at a local trail and complete a standard therapy session (50 minutes) while walking together outdoors. We walk at an easy pace to allow for conversation, and there are benches and stopping points along the way. Before we do this type of therapy together, a regular teletherapy session is needed to assess whether walk and talk therapy is the right fit for a client’s needs, including confidentiality considerations (walking in a public place) and any health concerns.
Please reach out for a consultation if you’d like to explore this option.
Narrative therapy is a therapy modality developed by Michael White and David Epston in which the therapist assists the client in creating a new life narrative (story) based on the client’s strengths, skills, and values. I like to think of narrative therapy as harnessing the power of story for healing.
Working together in therapy, we can use this story-focused therapy framework to:
understand where your story came from and where you want it to go
identify and externalize negative messages that falsely define you
identify the strengths that have gotten you through your toughest challenges
visualize the story you want to live and start to create it.
This empowering, strengths-based approach helps clients recognize the resources inside and around them that can help shape a new way forward. Envisioning the future you want and can see yourself living has so much power in helping you get there.
I see myself as a partner with you along the way, assisting you in clarifying the ways you see yourself now, pinpointing sources of struggle, separating these problems out from who you are, and seeing the ways to live with more hope and possibility.
This is an exciting and transformative way to work, even if changes are gradual, because of the focus on recognizing the strengths that already exist within you. This can be revolutionary if you’re used to hearing what is wrong, instead of what is right, with you.
I look forward to working with you in support of renewed hope and an empowering story.
My goal in grief counseling is to provide compassionate care and a supportive environment for clients experiencing the pain of loss. This means freedom from judgment or pressure to “move on” from grief. Grief looks and feels different for each person. It is my hope that in our work together you will feel seen, heard, supported and accompanied.
Learn more here: Guiding Principles in Compassionate Bereavement Care
The loss of an animal companion (a pet, working animal, or other special animal in our lives) can cause intense grief. The time leading up to the loss can also be very challenging, such as when an animal is sick or aging and death is nearing. Supporting clients as they navigate the loss of an important animal in their life (pets and beyond, including working partners such as K9s or horses, or other special animals) is an area of focus for me. This can include exploring the meaning of the relationship with the animal, and finding ways to honor that relationship in an ongoing way. I also offer support for veterinarians and other animal care and animal rescue professionals who experience loss and challenges related to their work.
Pet Loss During the Pandemic – My article in the June 2020 issue of Your Pet Magazine offers resources and support for those experiencing pet loss during these challenging pandemic times.
How Our Pets Help Us Cope – My article in the March 2020 issue of Your Pet Magazine describes the role our pets may have in helping regulate our emotions, and tells the very special story of a boy and a dog.