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Jan 17, 2018


Candy Crawford, MSW, LCSW, is a therapist, educator, and advocate for highly sensitive people. She maintains a private practice in the Chicago area, where she specializes in working with the highly sensitive and facilitates workshops and retreats in collaboration with Elaine Aron, research psychologist and pioneer in the study of this trait.

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)


Highly Sensitive Person is a layman’s term. The scientific name is Sensory Processing Sensitivity.

  • It is innate and occurs in 20% of the population. Therefore, 1 in 5 people have this trait.
  • It is not a disorder or developmental issue.
  • It occurs equally in men and women.
  • 70% are introverted. 30% are extroverted.
  • The tendency is found in the immune system, as well as the central nervous system.
  • It is found in over 100 animal species.



D: Depth of processing.

O: Over arousal or overwhelm.

E: Emotional intensity.

S: Sensory sensitivity.

“Our brain is processing information in a more concentrated form.” By Candy Crawford


If you think you might be a Highly Sensitive Person, you may want to take a self assessment test to get an indication (by Elaine Aron).

Here are a couple of examples from Elaine Aron’s HSP Self-test:

  • “I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input.”
  • “I seem to be aware of subtleties in my environment.”
  • “I have a rich, complex inner life.”
  • “I notice and enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, works of art.”

If you are a parent and want to determine if your child is a HSP, then you can take this self-test to identify if your child has the trait.


People who are highly sensitive offer great gifts to the world. They typically offer unusual depth and complexity, tenderness, and conscientiousness. They tend to be great listeners, leaders, and loyal companions. They are often creative and compassionate.

One of the main drawbacks of having this trait is 80% of the population doesn’t understand the experience of a highly sensitive person. Therefore, a highly sensitive person often feels misunderstood.

Another consideration is that the demands of our modern, busy, chaotic world can feel overwhelming.

“We exhibit such a full range of humanity.” by Candy Crawford

Important notes:

Self-care is a critical key to thriving as a highly sensitive person. HSP’s need daily down time.

The goal is to strive for an Optimal Level of Arousal, which is where the nervous system is moderately alert and aroused, in that too much or too little stress can be problematic.

“It requires a certain level of courage and a sense of self to live in alignment with your trait.” by Candy Crawford


  • HSP’s tend to get very bored in relationship.
  • They don’t enjoy small talk and prefer deeper conversations.
  • They enjoy discussing existential topics.
  • They love to process about their relationships.
  • They bring a level of intensity.
  • They can become overwhelmed quickly when in conflict.
  • They look for meaning and significance in relationship.

Understanding and gaining education about the needs of the highly sensitive person can be helpful in enabling the couple to work together in collaboration rather than resorting to blame, comparisons, and criticism.

Helpful ways to interact with a HSP:

  • Take an interest in your partner.
  • Be curious.
  • What has moved you?
  • What was something you wondered about today?

Tips for a HSP:

  • Know your limits.
  • Remove yourself when you get overwhelmed.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Communicate your needs.
  • To learn an important suggestion in how to develop a stronger sense of self, please listen to the interview with Candy Crawford.

“In relationship, you want two fully functioning independent people showing up.” by Candy Crawford



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode:

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