The Highly Sensitive Person & Why it Works

white_ceramic_tissue_box_cover_300_1The experience of being a highly sensitive person is common, but not well understood.  According to Dr. Elaine Aron, leading researcher in the field, highly sensitive people exist on a continuum of severity but all hold in common four qualities.  They process everything very deeply, tend to be overstimulated, have a greater emotional reactivity and empathy and heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as light, smells and sounds.

Additional qualities of a the highly sensitive person include, difficulty ‘tuning things out,’ easily overwhelmed, low risk taking, need for quiet, can cry easier then others, struggle with decision making, pay attention to details and tend to people please.

Often times the highly sensitive person is seen as problematic, that their responses are abnormal and extreme.  In truth, the highly sensitive person has many strengths.  How can you make this personality style work for you?

Nurturing Environments.  HSP do best in these types of environments.  Consider creating seeking out a nurturing environment for your home, relationships and career.

In Tune with Needs.  HSP tend to be highly in tune with the needs of others.  Use this strength to your advantage particularly in career choice.  Try to find a path that will support you utilizing this trait, such as teaching, counseling, music, art or the medical field.

Avoid your Triggers.  If you know what sets you off, whether it be people, places, experiences, etc. do your best to avoid them when possible.  Avoidance is not always possible, so when you know you may be in a situation that triggers you, do your best to plan ahead on how you will cope.

Daily Downtime.  This is important because HSP are more at risk of becoming overwhelmed.   Downtime helps to recharge, reset and regain focus to keep moving through the day.

Express your Passion.  When highly sensitive people feel passionate about something, it is hard to hide.  A helpful way to channel this passion can be through speaking, teaching or simply sharing with friends and family.  People learn better when their teachers are passionate about what they do.

Deep Conversations.  Highly sensitive people prefer to have deep meaningful conversations versus surface level discussions.  Many relationships and environments both support and seek out these types of interactions, find ones that you can be a part of.

Problem Solving.  Highly sensitive people will walk away from conversations and continue to think about them.  This can serve as a strength as long as it does not turn into rumination.  Often times HSP will walk away from their thinking with new answers or ideas.

Caring.  The ability to care for others can go a long way, both for the highly sensitive person and those on the receiving end.  Feeling genuinely cared for is a priceless experience.  The ability to care is an admirable quality to hold onto.

Good Judgment of Character.  The highly sensitive person has a deep need to understand hence their desire for depth and substance.  This allows for genuine connection and understanding with others.


Learn more about the Highly Sensitive Person from Dr. Elaine Aron here:

Meet Karen Cynkar, MSW, MS, LCSW

Karen Cynkar, MSW, MS, LCSW

Karen Cynkar

Karen creates a safe and relaxed atmosphere for her clients in which collaboration, empathy, and passion are paramount. Karen believes that her role in therapy is to use her expertise, sense of humor and nonjudgmental mindset to aid her clients in achieving their goals at their own pace. Karen also stresses the powerful influence of a trusting and respectful therapist-client relationship throughout the therapeutic process.

Karen employs the practice of meeting clients where they are at and tailoring her approach to each individual client’s needs and desires. She incorporates various aspects of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Family Systems Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Psychoeducation in order to accommodate her diverse clientele.

Karen enjoys working with children ages 6 and up, teenagers, individual adults, couples, and families. She specializes in relational/communication issues, family therapy, life transitions, body image/self-esteem issues, depression, and anxiety.

Karen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and received her Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Marriage and Family Services degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She enjoys continuing her education through attending various workshops, lectures and trainings to enhance her abilities as a therapist.

Karen also has special expertise in the following areas:

  • Adolescent & Preteen Concerns
  • Anger Management
  • Anxiety
  • Attachment
  • Behavioral Issues
  • Body Image Concerns
  • Depression & Mood Disorders
  • Parenting Concerns
  • Relationship Issues
  • Self-Esteem Issues
  • Stress Management
  • Women’s Issues

Karen can be reached by phone at 630.718.0717, ext. 221 or