You know something has to change…
You may be tired of living with this level of overwhelm, anxiety or discontent…
or maybe the weight of the depression or frustration of not living authentically, or up to your full potential, is just getting to be too much.
Perhaps you know you want to bring your gifts into the world and have satisfying relationships with yourself and others. Yet you feel like your sensitivity, intensity, creativity and/or complexity is in your way instead of helping.
If you are experiencing any of this, you probably just want to find a path out of that familiar helpless, stuck, place where nothing ever seems to change. That place where long-held dreams threaten to slip away.
In looking for help you landed here–and I’m really glad you did.
I specialize in working with people whose inner experience is highly nuanced and complex. Who often feel like they are at once too much and not enough…and who too often end up painfully hiding themselves from the world–even from those closest to them.
Knowing yourself and honoring your preferences and abilities holds the key to creating a place in the world that is just right for you. My work at Self-Awareness counseling has been to gather and create specialized therapeutic tools to help you find a safe path back to your true self and heal the wounds that interfere with utilizing your gifts fully in the world.
The Challenges of the Gifts:
High Sensitivity, Empathy, Creativity, Complexity & Intensity
While High Sensitivity, Empathy, Creativity, Complexity and Intensity are gifts, they can also make life very difficult for those who have them.
A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) can have a myriad of sensory and emotional experiences that others miss. Yet very intense sensory and emotional experiences are hard to deal with. People around you may call you too “picky”, or perfectionistic. They may say that “you take things too personally” or that you overthink things. You might even say these things to yourself and wish you could just “go with the flow” like “everyone else.”
Empathy can give you insight into, and compassion for, the experience of other living creatures. It can help you “tune in” to a situation. However, you may also suffer with the burden of feeling deeply for others. This can make asserting yourself or expressing your limits and setting boundaries difficult. In turn, this may lead to problems in relationships or with being taken advantage of.
Creative people often have different approaches to life and novel solutions to problems. But people around them may critique or reject them for being too different, or for responses that seem like non sequiturs to those who can’t see the connection. A need to create may also seem like a waste of time to others. Even if people around you appreciate your gifts and you have been positively named “Creative” or “Talented & Gifted”, these are labels that can come with their own particular burdens.
Whether or not you were ever identified as gifted, perceiving Complexity will allow you to go into detail in order to do a job thoroughly or to deeply understand something. However, people around you, who can’t see the complexity, may criticise you as being too slow, too deep or too demanding. You may be plagued by not being able to just do a “good enough” job, or frustrated by never seeming to have enough time.
If you’ve been gifted with Intensity, you bring a powerful drive to your life and a zest to those around you. At times however, this voracity can probably be hard to handle for both you and others. You may be told to slow down, or criticized for being too much, too emotional, or too intense.
If some of these qualities overlap you may take things very seriously, or have a hunger for learning or creating. However they can also cause inner conflict, confusion or intense, often difficult, feelings about yourself and others. Your awareness of complexity may help you to solve perplexing problems, organize complicated material well or make elaborate creations. Although sometimes it may cause frustration when trying to communicate your nuanced understandings, often leading to feeling misunderstood. If your sensitivity is combined with intensity or creativity, you may feel like you live life going at full speed with the brakes on!
These Traits & Western culture
Having any of these traits while growing up, working, learning or living in an invalidating environment may lead to difficulty making decisions, avoidance, procrastination, guilt & shame. This can set the stage for difficulty in relationships, social withdrawal and being highly self-critical. These are just a few of the ways that an individual with these traits may end up struggling to fit into Western cultural norms.
But there ARE ways to optimize these GIFTS for your benefit…
Specialized Therapeutic Approaches Customized to the Individual
After decades of working with students and clients in dance, movement, massage and mental health therapies, I have found that most often for those who are Highly Sensitive, Empathic, Creative, Complex, Intense and/or Talented & Gifted, it can be very important to find a counselor that has an understanding of these gifts and challenges.
For this reason, the therapeutic approach at Self-Awareness Counseling is designed to address the particular issues common for this population. But even among this group, individuals will have a wide range of differing histories, needs, problem issues, learning & information processing styles. Therefore, along with a specialized therapeutic approach, familiarity with a broad-range of healing modalities allows therapy to be tailored to a wide-variety of individual needs.
The Internal Family Systems Method Paired with Solution-Focused Therapy
Central to all of the work, is the use of an “outside-in/inside-out“ approach. Solution-Focused Therapy is a very practical way to assess and address what can be easily changed in a client’s outer environment & behavior. The Internal Family Systems (IFS) method is an individual counseling method, (not a family counseling method) that addresses core internal issues blocking growth. IFS honors that each of us has a myriad of inner parts that need compassionate understanding in order to shift. It provides a very safe container for healing–even deep, old, and/or traumatic wounds.
And so, although you found this site while struggling (and possibly cursing these characteristics in yourself–wishing you could “just be like everyone else”), these traits CAN become your most valued resources. Counseling can help you learn how to honor your own needs, and build relationships with yourself and others that truly value YOU—just as you are.
If any of this sounds familiar, this may be the right work for you.
For More Information:
Click on the images below (or on the right), or see the pages under the “Specializations” and “About Counseling” menus.