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What Questions Do You Have?

15 FAQs among perspective clients

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

First, a story: Two deer, with two very different survival strategies, stand at the edge of a grassy field. The first deer  boldly enters into the clearing to eat the best grass, but it’s seen by a predator and killed. The second deer paused to check before stepping into the clearing, and it lived to see another day. Being habitually prone to hesitation, however, this deer rarely has access to the best nutrition, which has long-term consequences requiring clever adaptations. The first deer’s survival strategy is used by roughly 80% of the deer population, whereas the second deer’s strategy is used by roughly 20%. The second deer has a genetic, temperament (or personality) trait called Sensory Processing Sensitivity and is described as being “highly sensitive.” This is an adaptive survival strategy not a disorder.

 

Sensory Processing Sensitivity has been observed in 15-20% of the population, in over 200 species, from fruit flies to humans. Being highly sensitive is therefore a minority experience, but within the human species, some cultures highly value sensitivity whereas others do not. This makes a world of difference when it comes to lived experience of the trait.

 

Let’s reiterate and expand on these ideas, for humans specifically: A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) has a genetic, temperament trait called Sensory Processing Sensitivity. The key feature of this trait is having a strong “pause-to-check” (or inhibitory) system in the brain. It’s a trait HSPs are born with, and it’s present across the lifespan, everywhere they go –– from school, to work, to relationships –– with or without a personal trauma history. HSPs also experience something called Differential Susceptibility, meaning they suffer more than less-sensitive temperaments in negative environments; however, they also thrive more than less-sensitive temperaments in positive environments!

How do I know if I'm a Highly Sensitive Person?

The acronym DOES helps us identify the HSP trait:

 

D – Depth of Processing. Your brain processes your internal and external worlds more deeply than others, making connections between the present moment, your bodily sensations, and past memories. This heightens your intuition, and makes you a careful decision maker. You are a deep thinker or feeler – someone who pauses to reflect before speaking, acting, or making decisions in order to make the best choice.

 

O – Overstimulation. Your depth of processing makes you susceptible to fatigue and stress in all aspects of your life. You feel stressed, anxious, or afraid of failure, especially during major life transitions or moments when you must perform under pressure. You avoid environments and activities that are overstimulating for you. You need quiet, peaceful environments, and lots of downtime to reflect on your experiences and recover from overstimulation. Acquaintances may have labeled you as "shy" or "aloof." You may be an introvert or an extrovert.

 

E – Emotional Reactivity & Empathy. You have big feelings (both the comfortable and uncomfortable ones) that can be difficult to regulate when you’re overstimulated. When you’re not overstimulated, you are empathic, often feeling others' feelings, understanding their intentions, and mobilizing to help them. You are passionate, wise, a good student of life, and an emotional leader. On the other hand, when you are overstimulated you may behave in more protective/defensive ways. This can look impulsive and perhaps even a little narcissistic to others, who often believe you are overreacting.

 

S – Sensing Subtleties. You process sensory information in a very detailed manner, paying attention to others' body language, reading between the lines, and picking up on subtleties others may not even realize they're broadcasting.You may also be sensitive to things like: light, noise, smells, flavors, textures, hormones, allergies, pain, drugs, art, healing, nature, or extrasensory perceptions.

 

Lastly, here are some shared experiences among many HSPs: 1) feeling “different,” 2) being unable to sustain a “normal” lifestyle without overstimulation and burnout, 3) fearing something is wrong with you.

 

If this sounds like you, take heart: you’re not broken. You’re the sensitive minority in an insensitive world, and there are concrete steps we can take to make life less overwhelming and more enjoyable for you!

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic Therapy includes breath work, body awareness, movement, and sometimes touch. The field was established in the 1930s. It is evidence-based, neuroscience-approved, and trauma-informed. Sensitive people benefit from this approach because they have sensitive nervous systems and strong awareness of the mind-body connection.

What is Energy Psychology?

Sensitive people sense subtleties in their environment, and no therapeutic approach is more subtle than energy healing. When combined with psychotherapy, Energy Psychology helps prevent overwhelm, heightens emotional intelligence and intuition, improves self-esteem, clarifies boundaries between self and other, and helps solidify deep and lasting change. I use multiple forms of Energy Psychology, including Emotional Freedom Technique (or "tapping"), which is evidenced-based and trauma-informed.

Do you take insurance?

I am not contracted with any insurance companies at this time. Unfortunately, they don't pay therapists very well, which contributes to large caseloads and burnout in the field, perhaps especially for Highly Sensitive Therapists like myself.

 

I can provide superbills for you to submit to your insurance company; however, I cannot guarantee that they will reimburse you for my services.

What are your rates?

My full rate is $140/hr. My sliding scale rate ranges from $85-$130/hr, and is calculated based on the payer’s annual household income and household size.

 

According to my research, the Colorado 2023 market rates for working with a Highly Sensitive Person Knowledgeable Therapist top out around $210/hr, with most therapists charging $150/hr. These rates help therapists pay down student loan debt associated with their advanced degree(s), afford continuing education and clinical supervision/case consultation on your behalf, counter lost wages associated with taking vacation and sick leave, and meet household living expenses, without overworking. If you're in the financial position to do so, thank you for supporting us, as we advocate for a more sustainable profession!

What forms of payment do you accept?

All major credit cards, as well as FSA/HSA.

How long are appointments?

Intake appointments are 80-90 minutes. Return appointments are 50-60 minutes or 80-90 minutes, depending on your temperament and treatment goals. Some clients prefer longer sessions because they afford time for depth of verbal processing, and time for longer somatic/energetic experientials.

How often do I need to attend therapy?

How often you attend therapy is up to you, and it depends on your specific treatment goals and your finances. Some questions worth asking: If you're seeking therapy for specific symptoms, how long have you had symptoms? How often do you experience them? How intense are they? How do they impact your life? Based on this, how many hours of therapy do you think it should take to start seeing results?

 

Generally speaking, I believe it is long-term cost-effective to start with weekly sessions. Like most relationships, the therapeutic relationship is built on a foundation of routine, quality time. We need time to learn how to see, hear, understand, and communicate with each other, and time to establish trust. Without this strong rapport, it's hard to meet treatment goals. Additionally, it can take longer to meet treatment goals when frequency drops too soon.

12 weeks is short-term therapy. In an ideal world, I'd love to see you weekly for at least 12 weeks. At bare minimum, please commit to 4 weeks of weekly sessions. All clients with active treatment goals are seen either weekly or every other week. Clients whose treatment goals have been met are welcome to schedule 1x/month in order to maintain optimal wellbeing, if desired.

How long can I expect to be in therapy?

This varies widely, depending on your specific treatment goals. Some goals can be achieved in as few as 12 weeks, while other goals take 1-2 years. I like to have a treatment plan finalized by the end of our third appointment. Creating a treatment plan together helps us predict how long services will be needed. It also ensures we are actively progressing towards your stated goals.

I'm not a Colorado resident. Can we work together?

Unfortunately no. I am only licensed to practice psychotherapy in the state of Colorado.

Do you have/allow Emotional Support Animals in session?

I work out of my home office, and I have a Highly Sensitive Cat who is not an ESA. Mel is a Devon Rex –– one of the best breeds for people with cat allergies. He is a prematurely retired breeding cat with Feline Irritable Bowel Disease. In order to maximize his health, he needed to be placed in a home without the stress of other animals. This unfortunately means I cannot have ESAs in my home office.

 

As you might expect of a Highly Sensitive Cat, Mel is slow to greet clients but rather affectionate and playful over time. He’s unlikely to be present during sessions, and of course we can proactively shut him out of the office if desired.

Do you work with minors?

I do not work with minors at this time. If you’re looking for a local, Highly Sensitive Person Knowledgeable Therapist for your child/adolescent, I recommend:

 

*Becky Howie, MA, LPC | Naturewise Counseling (Boulder)

*Andy Yang, MA, LPC | Andy Yang Counseling (Boulder)

*Jessica Savage, MA, LPC | Savage Counseling Services (Denver)

 

I also recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Child and The Highly Sensitive Parent (if applicable), both by Elaine N. Aron, PhD.

Do you work with couples?

I do not offer couples counseling services, though I do work with individuals concerning relationship issues they are experiencing. If you’re looking for a local, Highly Sensitive Person Knowledgeable Couples Therapist, please reference Dr. Elaine N. Aron’s directory at hsperson.com

 

I also recommend reading The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, by Elaine N. Aron, PhD.

What's your availability?

I see clients Monday-Thursday, 9AM-5PM. Please ask me about current availability, as most clients have reoccurring appointments to protect their desired days/times.

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