You’ve been told you’re too sensitive more times than you’d like to admit.

After a long day of work, all you want to do is curl up on the couch in the comfort of your own home.

You often say “no” to happy hours or going out with friends. On the rare occasions you do decide to go out and be social, you feel like you need a day or two to recover and regroup.

You’re fully aware you’re not like most of your family or friends. They’re social butterflies. They could surround themselves with crowds of people. Just the thought of that makes you a little stressed and anxious.

So, what’s going on with you? Are you a highly sensitive person? Are you an empath? Is there a difference between the two?

What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

Highly Sensitive People or HSPs are people who have an increased sensitivity to emotional, physical, or social stimuli. Highly sensitive people are often described as “too sensitive”. This sense of sensitivity can actually be a challenge and a strength for them.

What is an Empath?

An empath is someone who has the ability to sense the emotions and feelings of the people around them. Empaths have the ability to feel what another person is feeling at a deeper level.

woman sitting on dock looking out at dark water

The Similarities

Empaths actually share all of the same traits of a highly sensitive person. It is highly likely that most empaths are also highly sensitive people.

Both highly sensitive people and empaths are both empathetic in nature. Due to this, they often crave more alone time and tend to love and appreciate nature compared to someone who doesn’t share these qualities or characteristics.

Although this isn’t always the case, it’s more likely for a highly sensitive person to be an introvert. Empaths, on the other hand, can be both introverts and extroverts. That being said, most empaths are also introverts.

Both highly sensitive people have a low tolerance for stimuli and are often extremely sensitive to light, smells, and sounds.

The Differences

Most empaths are also highly sensitive people, but that doesn’t mean that all highly sensitive people are also empaths.

Empaths have the ability to take what a highly sensitive person can do a step further. While they both can feel emotions on a deeper level, only empaths have the ability to absorb or take on the emotions of others.

How to Know If You’re a Highly Sensitive Person or an Empath?

While HSPs are researched based, empaths are not. There is no scientific test or evidence to know if you’re truly an empath. The only want to determine if you’re a Highly Sensitive Person, empath, or both is to do research on your own. Read books, take online quizzes, or meet with a counselor, therapist, or life coach to determine what category you fall under.

Next Steps

There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re an empath or a highly sensitive person. It just means that you may process and feel emotions differently compared to those that don’t have those personality traits.

If you do find yourself struggling with processing your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you’re not alone. There are ways for you to cope with how you’re feeling. A licensed and trained mental health professional can help you learn more about being a highly sensitive person or an empath and give you the tools you need to become the best version of yourself moving forward.

If you’re interested in learning more about coping techniques and strategies, reach out to us today to set up a consultation. We can work with you to shift these abilities into one of your strengths with anxiety and depression therapy.

About the author(s)

Owner and Clinical Director Karen Conlon Head Shot

Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.

About Cohesive Therapy NYC

At Cohesive Therapy NYC, we believe that you have an immense amount of inner strength and resilience, even if it is yet to be discovered. Cohesive Therapy NYC is a private group psychotherapy practice in New York City that focuses on treating adults who struggle with Anxiety, Trauma, Chronic Illness, and the adult impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Cohesive Therapy NYC therapists see clients all throughout New York State (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, and statewide) using online therapy and are also available for in-person visits in their NYC offices, located at 59 East 54th Street, New York, NY 10022. We specialize in helping people who are dealing with anxiety, relationship issues, chronic illness, and digestive and adult trauma related to childhood family dynamics. We all deserve a chance to be well and have support.