While I was training to become an integrative mental health coach a few years ago, I learned that I have the Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) trait, which is the clinical term for Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Learning about my sensitivity revolutionized my approach to my career, and I thought, How do I become an HSP coach? (This was something I really needed for myself, and something I eventually offered to my clients through the HSP certification course I helped develop.)
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Discovering Sensitivity Led to HSP Coaching
I remember the day I discovered my HSP trait clearly. Suddenly my whole life made sense. Discovering that I am a Highly Sensitive Person explained a lot of my childhood experiences, as well as the challenges I was facing as an adult that included anxiety, depression, self-isolation, and identity issues. With the knowledge I had then of being an HSP, I felt better equipped to find the right mental health professional who could help me move from a place of mistrust and insecurity to one of self-confidence and joy.
Struggle to Find HSP-Trained Coaches Becomes Inspiration
After a few phone consultations with local therapists and coaches, I realized that not one was formally trained on the HSP trait. One said she was willing to read up on it — which was a nice offer. Another began citing symptoms related to Sensory Processing Disorder — a commonly mistaken condition for SPS. In the end, I worked with a therapist who seemed to have a basic understanding of the trait, yet it took months of working together before he fully appreciated how much the trait affected every aspect of my life and how I needed different strategies and tools than those he proposed to his non-HSP clients.
It was that experience that motivated me to become an advocate for highly sensitive people in the mental health arena, spreading the word to coaches and mental health professionals about the importance of getting formal HSP training.
Why might you decide to become an HSP Coach? As I see it, here are the top 5 benefits:
Benefit #1 – Become an HSP Coach Because You are Greatly Needed
While Highly Sensitive People account for 15-20% of the population, they actually account for 30%-50% of clients seeking support for their mental health and wellness. This translates into a real need for more HSP-trained coaches. Post-pandemic, that need has become even greater. Humankind is in the throes of a mental health crisis, yet so many people are waking up to the opportunity of living a life of higher consciousness. Both those who are struggling with their mental health and those who are ready to live a more purposeful life are seeking support.
Benefit #2 – Become an HSP Coach Because You Already Have HSP Clients
With training comes the knowledge of how to help clients through the process of identifying as a Highly Sensitive Person, which alone can relieve many psychosomatic issues for clients. In other words, if you consider the above percentages, chances are, a fair amount of your clients are highly sensitive — and not all of them know it. Your ability to recognize the trait and help your client, if and when appropriate, to self-assess is essential for their optimal well-being.
Benefit #3 – Become an HSP Coach to Offer HSP-Focused Strategies
The methods and support for HSPs are different and far more effective than what is appropriate for other clientele. With training comes the understanding of how HSP clients see the world through a different lens and how the coaching strategies and tools— even as fundamental as the vocabulary you use in session — can support them.
Benefit #4 – Become an HSP Coach Because Many Coaches are HSPs and Need to Understand Themselves
Many coaches themselves are highly sensitive and benefit greatly from learning the approaches and techniques in the training. As a coach, you already know that you can only support your clients to the level of where you are at yourself. Learning and implementing these strategies is the way you will best be able to support your HSP clients.
Benefit #5 – Become an HSP Coach to Niche-Down Your Marketing as an HSP-Trained Coach
Becoming an HSP-certified coach allows you the opportunity for targeted marketing, which means a real chance to grow your business! You don’t have to be a marketing wizard to get noticed by potential highly sensitive clients. They are looking for you!
There are two options I recommend for coaches looking to become trained to work with Highly Sensitive clients:
Option #1 – Dr. Elaine Aron’s Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person Course
Dr. Elaine Aron is the clinical research psychologist and best-selling author who brought the highly sensitive trait into mainstream awareness. She has written seven books on sensitivity, led in-person workshops, recorded numerous videos and podcasts, and contributed to three documentaries. Her HSP training involves studying “Psychotherapy and the Highly Sensitive Person” (either in DVD or book format) and predominantly focuses on the psychological aspects of the trait. Participants must pass a 50-question test and coaches must be ICF credentialed to the level of PCC to be listed in her directory.
Option #2 – HSP Certification Through the Nickerson Institute of Integrative Health
The Nickerson Institute of Integrative Health Training offers a Highly Sensitive Certification Course for mental health professionals. I co-developed this course with Dr. Wendy Nickerson, clinical psychologist and founder of the institute. The development of this course was inspired by my challenge in trying to find an HSP-trained professional and the experience of working to help my therapist better understand the trait and its impact on mental health and well-being. This course takes a holistic approach to HSPs and covers the full range of challenges and benefits of the sensitivity trait. It includes myriad handouts and engaging material to share with HSP clients. It also offers the option to be listed in two online directories for HSP-trained coaches and 10-hour CEUs for some coaching associations.
Be sensitive, be free
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