Coaching for the Sensitive Person

The world doesn’t always make space for people who are sensitive:

“What’s the big deal?”
“Get over it.”
“Why are you crying?”
“Hurry up.”
“Stop being so sensitive.”

Welcome, we are Emily Rubin and Heather Shaughnessy-Cato. We identify as sensitive and are practitioners with specialties in self-compassion, mindfulness, well-being, and embodiment. 

We are here to work with fellow sensitives to become skillful and empowered in navigating the challenges, embracing the strengths, and honing the tremendous gifts that come with being a sensitive person.

As sensitive people, it is quite common to feel overwhelmed or different, and to struggle with:

  • Being deeply impacted by who and what’s around you.
  • Feeling overstimulated in groups and various environments, and not understanding why or what to do about it.
  • Picking up strongly on the emotions and needs of others.
  • Finding it takes some time to figure out how you really feel about something.
  • Learning to acknowledge and validate your own needs and feelings.
  • Feeling alone in how deeply you feel the pain around you: in social and family dynamics, in the community, on the news, and on social media.
  • Believing something is wrong with you and/or being told you are “too sensitive.”
  • Worrying others might see you as “weak,” “too much,” “temperamental,” and like you don’t have it together.
  • Having been trained to “hold it in” or pretend you’re fine.
  • Finding you need more down time, pauses, or breaks.

Defining Sensitive

What do we mean by sensitive? A sensitive person is someone who is thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli.

You feel deeply, process deeply, and are attuned to the subtleties in your environment. This is a superpower. And it can present challenges in a world that doesn’t value, make space for, or understand these abilities. 

What causes sensitivity?

Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist who has studied sensitivity since 1991, coined the term “Highly Sensitive Person” which is now scientifically known as “Sensory- Processing Sensitivity “. Her research has shown that 15-20% of human beings carry this trait and it is considered normal, not a disorder. Interestingly, biologists have found it in over 100 species from birds and fish to cats, dogs, horses and even fruit flies. It stems from a mix of genetic and environmental influences and is about equally distributed across gender.

In her research, Elaine Aron has identified four primary components of being highly sensitive.

Being a highly sensitive person might look like:
  • (Depth of processing) – You think, feel, and process deeply. You are likely valued for your thoughtfulness and the connections you make. Yet, you may also have been told you “think too much,” “feel too much,” or are “oversensitive.”
  • (Overstimulation) You have a heightened sensitivity to people and the environment – sounds, scents, activity, emotions. This may lead to a need for more downtime with fewer inputs, which can be a challenge in our hectic world.
  • (Empathy and emotion) You may have a strong sense of empathy, sensing the emotions of others and feeling the pain of the world. You care deeply, which is both a gift and a challenge as it can be, at times, overwhelming. 
  • (Sensing the subtle) When you walk into a room you may get a lot of information from the subtleties you notice. As if you had antennae, you may sense that which is unspoken and take in more details than others typically notice. This additional data is a benefit in decision making, leadership, parenting, etc but you may have been taught to override your attunement to subtleties, being told “you are too sensitive.” 

A different kind of coaching

When we hear “coaching” we often think of someone pushing us forward, giving advice, with to-do’s and expectations. What we offer is much more client-centered. We focus on your agenda, engage in deep listening, and co-create the process with you. We are here to help you find your own answers, and to make changes in a way that feels good and sustainable for you.

How can coaching sessions help?

Take dedicated time and space just for you to be seen and heard, and engage with a range of healing practices to:

  • Feel at home in your own feelings and your own body
  • Discover what is truly replenishing for you
  • Reflect on and articulate your priorities, values, and goals
  • Validate and acknowledge your own needs
  • Learn to titrate how much you “take in” from the world around you
  • Set boundaries with others and within yourself
  • Develop or strengthen a practice of self-compassion and mindfulness
  • Soften self-criticism
  • Work with difficult emotions
  • Feel more confident in sharing your perspectives and insights, realizing you notice things others may not

What do coaching sessions look like?

It’s natural to feel some nervousness in engaging in a process to deepen awareness and healing. So if you feel that way, know you are not alone.

To give you an idea of what to expect in coaching sessions, we are including a description here. We recommend scheduling a free consultation with either of us to be able to ask questions and to feel more deeply into what the process might look like for you.

In coaching sessions, we:

  • Focus on building an authentic relationship with you and identifying your goals for the work together.
  • Gently and creatively lead you in a process to learn more about what’s working well for you, where you are stuck, and to help you meet challenges with new compassion and insight.
  • Emphasize growth through experience – a kind experimentation in life, rather than perfectionism or “getting it right.”

What does this look like in practice?

In each session we ask you what you’d like to focus on that day. This might include: space to talk through a challenge and surface new insights, or incorporating a mindfulness or compassion exercise. It may include taking time to explore a feeling with more compassion or as you think about something, translate insight into action for practical steps to explore in the coming week. These are examples of possibilities. We are most anchored to what you need in each session, in service of your long term goals, and how we can help or support you.

This process is designed to:

  • Help you reclaim your sense of who you are
  • See yourself again as whole
  • Help you show up as your authentic self in your relationships, life roles, and in the world.  

Heather Shaughnessy-Cato

  • MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher
  • Certified Well-Being, Wellness and Health, and Yoga Coach
  • Designing Your Life Coach and Facilitator
  • Certificate in Mindfulness / Contemplative Psychotherapy
  • Certified Yoga Teacher, 200 hr

Emily Rubin

  • Mindful Self-Compassion Trained Teacher
  • Internal Family Systems Trained
  • Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator
  • Somatic Experiencing® Trained
  • AmSAT Certified Alexander Technique Teacher

Getting Started – Schedule a free consultation

Reach out with this form to schedule a 30-minute consultation with Emily or Heather. Then if you’d like to proceed in working together, we can schedule your first appointment.

Coaching sessions can be virtual via Zoom, or some in-person sessions are available in Brunswick, ME (with Heather).

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