2. Understanding the Trait

Resources・Understanding the Trait・Julie Bjelland, LMFT

About 20% of the population has the innate trait of high sensitivity, also known as Sensory Processing Sensitivity. The brains of HSPs process more information more deeply, which can make us more overwhelmed and sensitive to our surroundings. HSPs often suffer from anxiety and higher stress levels in a world that feels overwhelming, which is likely why up to 50% of clients in therapy are HSPs.

As a highly sensitive person, you may be able to feel what other people feel, which can help you to be more empathic and compassionate – these are some of the gifts of this trait. On the other hand, you can also be more easily overwhelmed and have higher stress levels. You may experience sensory overload with such factors as loud noise, bright lighting, and strong odors.

As an HSP myself, I am passionate about my work as a psychotherapist who specializes in the trait of high sensitivity and consider it a calling to help you thrive and live at your highest potential.

I've developed what I call a compassionate and supportive "brain training" program through my books and online course which provide specific tools for HSP's to learn to navigate an overstimulating world.

Explaining the Trait


Rick Hanson interviews Julie about the trait of high sensitivity for his wonderful Foundations of Well Being Program


Further Resources

  1. Explaining the trait of the highly sensitive person to someone else.
  2. Podcasts and Videos where Julie is interviewed about the trait. 
  3. Gifts and Challenges of the highly sensitive person. 
  4. Videos describing the trait of the highly sensitive person.
  5. Julie's HSP Blog discusses many aspects of the trait. Read through past posts too and subscribe to stay up to date. 
  6. Blog Post Hazards of Misdiagnosis for the Highly Sensitive Person is helpful to share with your mental health providers as well as your doctors and other HSPs. 
  7. What does sensory overload feel like for an HSP? 
  8. Sensitive, The Untold Story is a documentary about this trait that you can rent or purchase online. It is great to share with family and friends so they can learn more about the trait. 
  9. Highly Sensitive Client is a valuable resource to share with your therapist or other mental health professionals for working with HSPs, compiled by my gifted HSP associate, April Snow. 
  10. Dr Elaine Aron presents an audio lecture with Q&A about the trait of high sensitivity.

  11. The highly sensitive brain: an fMRI study of sensory processing sensitivity and response to others' emotions.

Self Tests for HSPs

Participate in HSP Surveys to Advance Research 

  1. What is your HSP score on the above HSP Adult self-test.
  2. How do you Relieve Anxiety or high stress as an HSP? 
  3. What does Sensory Overload feel like as an HSP?
  4. What Career Choices work better for HSPs?
  5. What Self-Care helps you as an HSP?
Julie Bjelland