High Sensitivity in Therapists and Clients with Alane Freund | POP 818

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A photo of Alane Freund is captured. She is family therapist who specializes in highly sensitive people. Alane is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Do you find yourself easily influenced by your surroundings? Are you a highly sensitive therapist? What are the common four HSP traits?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about high sensitivity in therapists and clients with Alane Freund.

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With our team, we continue to grow to have consultants that will help you at every single phase of practice.

If you want to apply to have a 30-minute pre-consulting call with me, I would love to chat through where you’re at.

The goal is to just hear where you at, where you’re headed, and where you want to change things, and then to say, “Here’s where I’d spend my time and money if I were in your situation!”

We have enough people applying at every phase of practice, so we don’t need to squeeze you into anything. In fact, we would hate that.
We would rather say, “Here’s where we can join you and offer some consulting to help you reach your goals faster”.

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Meet Alane Freund

A photo of Alane Freund is captured. She is family therapist who specializes in highly sensitive people. Alane is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Alane Freund is an International Consultant on High Sensitivity (ICHS) and a family therapist who helps highly sensitive adults and youth focus on solutions through therapy, consultation, and speaking. She has developed numerous programs for highly sensitive people, families, youth, and clinicians who serve them including her monthly workshops at Are You Highly Sensitive Live.

Alane is known for her widely recognized Talk at Google, Understanding the Highly Sensitive Person.

Visit Alanefreund.com and connect with her on FacebookInstagramYoutube, and LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • High sensitivity terminology
  • Parenting a highly sensitive child
  • Tips for therapists about HSPs
  • The four HSP traits
  • The HSP therapist
  • Alane’s advice to private practitioners

High sensitivity terminology

[High sensitivity] is an evolutionary imperative … over 100 species … has between 15% and 30% of its members [that] have a more reactive brain.

Alane Freund

Highly sensitive people are products of evolution that keep the group safe, protected, and aware of the surroundings.

Some basic characteristics of highly sensitive people include:

  • High empathy with others
  • Being sensitive to lights
  • Being sensitive to noise
  • Awareness of smells
  • Awareness of subtle changes in the environment

People who are highly sensitive are just more tuned into their environment and [are] more impacted by it.

Alane Freund

Parenting a highly sensitive child

1 – Rhythm and routine: having a morning and an evening routine is a great help to everybody – especially highly sensitive people!

It’s good for everybody, it’s critical for highly sensitive people, and it’s a game-changer for highly sensitive children and youth.

Alane Freund

2 – Focus on proper rest: our brains never fully rest, and because people already lead industrious lives, highly sensitive people need more downtime than the average person to relax and unwind.

3 – Reset between screen time and genuine downtime: after using screens or completing a task – for HSP youths and adults – consider taking a walk outside or doing some stretches to signal to the brain that it’s time to start resting.

Tips for therapists about HSPs

First of all, therapists can change the life of a highly sensitive person just by identifying them.

Alane Freund
  • If you suspect that your client is a highly sensitive person, share the knowledge with them and see if it resonates, because it can make a big positive impact in their lives to know that what they experience is normal.
  • Be careful of offering mindfulness meditation to HSPs: meditation works great for everybody, HSPs included.

However, because their brains process so much so quickly, quietening their thoughts would feel like a near-impossible task. Rather, encourage them to try breathwork or to simply practice being aware of their thoughts, instead of trying to silence the mind.

  • Encourage them to have a notebook on hand when meditating: if something comes up that interests them, they can write it down to come back to it later, instead of pushing it away and then fretting about forgetting it.

For an HSP when they finally start to quiet down into meditation, that’s when the important thoughts come because they’re so overwhelmed the rest of the time.

Alane Freund

The four HSP traits

D – Depth of processing

O – Overwhelmed or easily overstimulated

E – Empathy and strong emotional reactions

S – Sensitivity to subtle stimuli

Learn more about high sensitivity on Alane’s website.

The HSP therapist

To be a highly sensitive person and work as a therapist will mean that you need to have strong boundaries and self-care in place to protect your mental and emotional health.

Highly sensitive therapists need longer breaks, 10 minutes won’t cut it between clients because you’re taking everything in so deeply that it’s a lot. You need more time in between.

Alane Freund
  • Get comfortable in your sessions: consider seeing clients outside or virtually if in-person sessions feel too daunting back-to-back or with intensive clients
  • Find great consultation: get in touch with a mentor, consultant, and therapist to help you help others.
  • Be gentle with yourself: your brain is slightly different as an HSP to the average person, and the world is not designed with HSPs in mind, so you need to create the structures that you need to thrive within your own life yourself.

Alane’s advice to private practitioners

You do enough. Take a loving chant or meditation and say it to yourself every day.

Books mentioned in this episode:

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Hope in Guatemala’s Garbage Dumps with Jacob Wheeler | POP 817

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

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Podcast Transcription

[THERAPY NOTES] Is managing your practice stressing you out? Try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over 1000 verified customer views and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach out to someone who can help. You are never wasting your time looking for answers. If you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE], J-O-E to get the first three free months totally free to try it out, no strings attached. Remember telehealth is included with every subscription free. Make 2022, the best year yet with Therapy Notes. Again, use promo code [JOE] to get three months totally free. [JOE SANOK] This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 818. [JOE] I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. I am so glad that you are here today. Four days a week, we are covering ways to start, grow, scale, and even exit your private practice. We cover all sorts of things around the business of private practice, the clinical side of private practice, we look into even things well outside of private practice. Even just in the last episode we are interviewing my friend Jacob Wheeler, who is talking about a social worker who went to the trash dumps of Guatemala and started a whole nonprofit there and her story. Jacob is a really interesting journalist. That was our last episode. We talked about vicarious trauma. So it’s been a busy month here in November, so make sure you go back and check out some of those episodes that you might find interesting. There’s bound to be some there that you really are going to enjoy. Well, I am so excited about Alane Freund who is with me today. Alane has an MS and MA and is an International Consultant on Highly Sensitive, highly sensitive people and highly sensitivity and is a family therapist who helps highly sensitive adults and youth focus on solutions through therapy, consultation and speaking. She has developed numerous programs for highly sensitive people and clinicians who serve them, including her monthly workshops at Are You Highly Sensitive? he’s known for her widely recognized talk at Google, Understanding the Highly Sensitive Person. Alane can be found at her website, which we’ll give you at the end of the episode. Alane, welcome to the Practice of the Practice Podcast. [ALANE FREUND] Thank you so much for having me here. I’m thrilled. [JOE] Yes, I am so excited to have you. Yes, highly sensitive people, when I think about my two daughters, when I think about some of my friends, when I finally had the lens of HSP or someone that’s highly sensitive and I started learning about it, for me, it just changed the way I perceive people so much. I mean, I still remember reading about just the necessity of highly sensitive people, especially from evolutionary terms, in that they could hear things that were dangerous well before the rest of the family. Even one of my daughters, I would say is probably highly sensitive, when she freaks out over some loud noise or whatever to be like, wow, that would’ve really served me if there was a tiger in the forest thousands of years ago. So let’s just start with those that maybe haven’t heard the term or maybe haven’t dug into the term of a highly sensitive person or a highly sensitive individual. Walk us through the terms that you think are really important for us to know right from the beginning before we dive into the core of the episode. [ALANE] Okay, I’d love to. You’re right, it is an evolutionary imperative that over a hundred species, we have it documented scientifically in over a hundred specie, we think every species has between 15% and 30% of its members who have a more reactive brain. So they have four characteristics, they process the information in their brain more deeply than the rest of their species, they notice the subtleties like your daughter and the annoying noise, and lots of other different things, changes in temperature, smells, bright lights, so many different subtleties they notice. These are also the children who actually notice that you got your hair trimmed, are you wearing a new shirt? They also have strong emotional reactions and responses, and their strongest emotions are with regard to empathy toward others, or especially thinking about your daughters, not towards siblings, but toward others who might need their empathy. [JOE] I’m like, yep, it does. It ends right there when the system start hanging out. [ALANE] The reason empathy isn’t big with siblings is because siblings are inherently overstimulating or over arousing for highly sensitive people. That’s the fourth characteristic. The O, over arousal. It’s a psychological term. It basically means overwhelmed. People who are highly sensitive are just more tuned into their environment and more impacted by it. So I think that’s the basis of it. Something that’s really interesting is when Leighton Erin first wrote the book, the Highly Sensitive Person, she said 15%, and then we started discovering that it was really 20%, 15%, we could easily document in different species, other species, but we were like, oh, maybe 20% in humans. Now Michael Pullis and Jay Beski who are spearheading a lot of the research on children in the UK are finding that possibly up to 30% of humans have this trait with 15% of them being higher in high sensitivity, but another 15% potentially still having the more reactive brain [JOE] That’s a highly sensitive person. I also wonder, and I know we’ll get into some of the other things, but I’m just thinking knowing all that’s happened in the world and the changes in technology and just being stimulated with whether it’s little video games or YouTube videos or things with kids that it’s got to be that the way the brain is, it’s not made necessarily for how our technology or world is right now. So I wonder if it’s going to start revealing more of that HSP that is within people than maybe would’ve a hundred years ago too. [ALANE] It’s a really good point. Also trauma, I mean, for, all of our listeners who are in the US, especially, we have just, well, the whole world has been through a global trauma with the pandemic, but in the US we have a lot of other, how heck, it’s everywhere, war, violence, racism, it’s just everywhere. Those things are traumatic. So people who have more reactive brains are more impacted by the too much news, too much information, too much trauma, too much technology. It does react in those brains more so. Something that just astounds me about the science, and I’m always speaking from everything that is scientifically based when I’m talking about highly sensitive people, I’m not putting out any of my personal opinions, so the science is showing us that people with these more reactive brains are more impacted by stress, obviously. We used to think high sensitivity was just a vulnerability factor that when a stressor happened, especially in childhood, that highly sensitive people were more likely to experience depression and anxiety. That remains true, sadly. However, the further research went on and we found out that we’re not just more vulnerable, we’re actually also more resilient because when positive childhood happens, a positive childhood environment or even positive intervention, like winking my eye here, what therapists are doing in the office, those positive interventions impact highly sensitive people at a much greater, exponentially greater level than they do people who don’t have the more reactive brains. So the hard things are harder, but the good things are even better. [JOE] Whenever I have experts on, I start with being selfish and then I move into having the audience actually come along for the ride. I got to ask you, when you say these like positive interventions or positive things, just as a single dad raising two daughters I would say both of them have strong emotions, but also one is more highly sensitive. What are things that parents can do when they recognize that in their kids? I know we’ll get to talking about clients and talking about yourself and all those sorts of things, but just what can parents do if they notice their kid might be on the highly sensitive, would you say spectrum or like, I don’t want to say spectrum, what’s the proper terminology? [ALANE] They’re the trait. They have the trait. It’s an innate trait. They’re born with it. I love that you asked that because actually what the kids need is what the adults need. Here’s something really interesting for everyone to remember. What is good for highly sensitive children or adults is also good for everybody. We are the canaries. So let’s just talk about one of our few things. My number one favorite intervention is rhythm and routine. When you are already having decision fatigue, getting easily overwhelmed by your environment, a day at school or a day at work is just, it just flattens highly sensitive people. It’s so exhausting. There’s so much input coming in. What we need is to have as few opportunities or need to make decisions as possible. So having every morning look the same and every evening, bedtime routine, look the same again, kid or adult, it really doesn’t matter. The more rhythm and routine you have in your life, the better you function. It’s good for everybody. It’s critical for highly sensitive people. It’s a game changer for highly sensitive children and youth. Another thing that I think is so important, this research, it just came out during the pandemic. It’s the most depressing thing in the world for me because I am a high sensation seeking, highly sensitive person. We can be, 30% of us are extroverts, we’re evenly spread across genders and high sensation seeking is another trait that can coexist with high sensitivity. It’s not correlated anyway. It just happens to sometimes occur. So I like to do a lot yet I’m highly sensitive. The new research that came out in 2019 was that we already knew this, but it was proven that when even at rest, our brains keep working. Now that sucks if you like to — [JOE] I just heard that like a couple weeks ago. I was reading a report about that and thinking about how, yes, my brain do, like it’s still dreaming, it’s going wild all night long. [ALANE] Exactly. So do you know the sad thing about that for like tweens and teens and then of course adults, is we have busy lives. We want to do a lot yet if we’re highly sensitive, we have to rest more, we need more downtime. The rule is generally that you should be off screens two hours before you want to go to sleep. I’m just letting that sink in because it’s such a game changer and such a bummer for most of us, and especially teenagers. Well, if you’re highly sensitive, all those guidelines, how much sleep you need, how much time you should have off of the screens, they need to be increased quite a bit and for children double. So we really have to find a way that the brain can rest. I had this, I recently did a shift course with the Shift Network on the highly sensitive person’s life redesign and Stephen Dnon asked me, well, what are we supposed to do? We live our lives on the screens. One of the things I suggested is, especially for young people, I don’t know, for all of us, is to do something to create a reset between the screen time and the decompressing time so there’s lots of little things, these are things we could tell our clients, but definitely things we want to train in our children and ourselves; taking a walk outside at, in the evening after the screens are off, going out in the dark, at least when the days get shorter, but in the twilight is fine too or the dusk. Walk the dog, create some family ritual or reason that everybody has to go outside. Not a lot of exercise, because that gives us energy but to take a walk outside and create a shift in our body and our brain to tell it it’s time to start the bedtime routine. [JOE] Well, I mean that right there, I mean, at the time of this recording, my kids are about to go back to school. I know this releases actually on your birthday in November, but that’s helpful even just to think through and say, yes, okay, we’re going to write down the routine, get that rhythm. I love the idea of an evening walk just right after dinner, maybe we go for a walk before we start getting ready for bed. Well, let’s dive into maybe some things that therapists commonly are recommending that maybe aren’t best for HSPs. One thing you had said before we started recording was some thoughts and research around meditation. What is it about meditation that maybe therapists don’t always get right in regards to HSPs? [ALANE] Well what’s interesting to me is, first of all, therapists can change the life of a highly sensitive person just by identifying them. My clients think I’m a genius because when I explain to them that they’re highly sensitive and what that means, their life all of a suddenly, suddenly makes sense. It’s pretty easy. You can go to hspperson.com and use the self-test there. A brand new self-test is being created right now. But I think what we, there’s so many common practices that we lean on in the therapy room, most of us and one of them is around meditation. The research is clear. Meditation works, it’s great, it’s good for our health, it improves mental health. I even have a course called spirituality is the key to mental health for highly sensitive people. I firmly believe it’s true for everybody. At the same time, guess what, mindfulness meditation is sort of a recipe for disaster for highly sensitive people. To me that’s just so disappointing because it’s the most popular thing out there. The reason is that if you tell a highly sensitive person that they need to stop thinking or let go of their thoughts or quiet their brain, they cannot be successful. I just told you, the research is clear, even when they rest or sleep, their brain doesn’t stop. So trying to do a traditional mindfulness meditation practice, practice or to teach clients to do that or ask them to do that is going to be usually very frustrating for them and can even increase anxiety. So I have a bunch of hacks. I have a workshop actually on this. It’s called Emma is for Meditation where I just go over some of my favorite meditation hacks. I’ll just give you, should I give a couple? [JOE] Yes, that’d be great. [ALANE] Okay, so one is for highly sensitive people, they should not try to stop thinking, but they can just have their notebook, you know how you have a dream notebook. Sometimes just have a meditation notebook, or even scrap paper and a pen nearby when meditating and encourage them that when they have a thought, if it’s something that they want to think more about, to write it down. Because then their brain can relax. They can know we won’t forget it or they can forget it, but that it’s there, it’s saved. Because for an HSP, when they finally start to quiet down into meditation, that’s when the important thoughts come because they’re so overwhelmed the rest of the time. So having permission to open your eyes and write those things down and maybe actually your meditation session turns into a journaling session and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s really good. Another great hack, this is from the Dalai Lama and it’s not something he made up, it’s from his tradition; analytical meditation is a great meditation for HSPs. It’s where the meditator chooses usually more of an existential topic, but it can also be a mundane everyday topic, a question and they use their meditation to analyze it. So maybe the Dalai Lama is meditating and analyzing the meaning of life or the meaning of the end of life. For me, I might be meditating on why I’m so aggravated with my spouse or how I could just let my 21 year old be an adult and stop over interfering in his life but really allowing the meditation to be an analysis of this question. These are meditation techniques that will work for highly sensitive people, but trying to empty the mind. It’s going to be a really exercise and frustration because their mind rarely empties. [JOE] Yes, I know for myself that using the waking up app with that Sam Harris does, because there’s so many different types of meditations. Some are guided, some are stoic meditation, some are more in the like Daoist or Buddhist lineage. Some are just breathing and mindfulness. For me to just test out so many different traditions and say, oh, I resonate more with that one versus feeling like I’m just bad at meditation, to realize that in the same way that you may not like playing lacrosse, but you may enjoy tennis. So it’s like to be able to find these things that work for each of us. Are there other things that are typical of therapists that they recommend that for HSPs we need to just change it or tilt it a little bit? [ALANE] Well, one of the issues I think also is differential diagnosis. A lot of times, especially highly sensitive men are misdiagnosed and youth. It’s really common to find in the office people who are diagnosed with ADHD but when you start to dig into their story and their symptoms, you find that they don’t actually meet the criteria or they meet the criteria for attention deficit inattentive type, so they have trouble focusing, but when you interview the client in greater detail, you find out that when their life is going well, they have that rhythm and routine enough rest. They’re not living in an overwhelming environment for their nervous system. They have no trouble focusing. So I just want to caution everybody to really do that differential diagnosis. A lot of times male, highly sensitive people or male identified, highly sensitive people might be misdiagnosed with avoidant personality disorder or even on the autism spectrum. These are very common sort of ways that male HSPs might adapt their behavior to try to fit into some way to be masculine in these societies that we’re living in. So differential diagnosis is a huge one. We want to be very, very careful. We also have to be aware of people who are coming in who may have a personality disorder maybe on the autism spectrum or any other mental illness and they’ve read about highly sensitive people and they want to convince you that they’re HSP and that’s all that’s going on with them. It’s not always the case. I mean, you’re all professionals, you know this. So we have to really look for those four criteria, it’s the acronym DOES, and make sure that all four are actually happening. Not that just because they’re capable of having empathy, but that empathy is their natural way of being in the world, for example. [JOE] Now remind us, and I know you had said the four things and you dug into them, but what does the DOES exactly stand for? Just to make sure that we have that [ALANE] Good idea. I have some videos on YouTube about this, so you can look me up. It’s D, depth of processing, O, easily overwhelmed or over stimulated, psychological term over arousal, actually a physiological response, E strong emotional reactions and empathy, S, sensitivity to subtle stimuli. Actually it’s also on my website, under the highly sensitive person tab. You can find it very easily there. [JOE] Yes, we can have the team link to all that in the show notes and embed some of those videos in the show notes too, to make it easier for the listeners [ALANE] We’ll use the acronym and also really use the self-test. You know how I’m sneaky with the self-test with men and teens. I’ll just tell you I don’t like bring the test out. Like a lot of, I don’t mean to be so stereotypical, but many female clients, especially if they’re highly sensitive, would love to look at the self-test, those 26 questions and mull them over and fill it out for you. But what I do with folks who might be feeling like being called highly sensitive is an insult, first of all, I use different terminology, one is a finely tuned nervous system and another one is a more reactive brain. But what I do is I just discuss the things on them, the items on the self-test. So I familiarize myself with them. I have it memorized, but you would familiarize yourself with the things and then just bring them up in conversation. Like maybe you find that on a day, on a weekend where you do less and you spend time hiking and you don’t have a lot of people over and you have time to cook good food and you’re not eating fast food and maybe you’re lower on caffeine, then everything in your life is working and it’s easy. Then you start your work week and all these things that they’ve told you about happen, and then you find that you can’t focus that you’re anxious all the time. That’s pretty good example of diagnosing or identifying. It’s not a mental illness, it’s just a trait, but identifying the trait. Is that helpful? [JOE] That’s so helpful. Oh my gosh. [PoP] Whether you’re starting a solo practice or thriving in solo practice, getting a group going or thriving in a group, or launching a big idea or thriving with your big idea, we have a consultant that can help you. With our team we continue to grow to have consultants that will help you at every single phase of practice. If you want to apply to have a 30-minute pre-con consulting call with me, I would love to chat through where you’re at. The goal is to just hear where you’re at, where you’re headed, where you want to change things, and then to say, here’s where I’d spend my time and money if I were in your situation. We have enough people applying at every phase of practice, we don’t need to squeeze you into anything. In fact, we would hate that. We would rather say, here’s where we can join you and offer some consulting to help you reach your goals faster. Apply over at practiceofthepractice.com/apply if you want some help with one-on-one consulting today. Again, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/apply. [JOE SANOK] Well, I think this seems like a good time to jump into a little bit more on the client work side. So therapists that are diagnosing, they’re working with clients, what else do they need to know in regards to their work with their clients that may be highly sensitive people or in a family that has someone with that trait? [ALANE] Oh, thank you so much for letting me do this. One of the things I want to say is, and this is sad for highly sensitive people, they are more likely to experience anxiety and depression in the existence or the having grown up in a stressful family environment. The stressor can be anything from divorce to poverty to mental illness, to alcoholism. Anything you can think of that could be a childhood stressor. Highly sensitive people are more likely to be ill, injured and have mental illness. Their respiratory illnesses even last longer. It’s really fascinating. Their bodies and their minds are impacted by stress. So when you experience somebody who’s really struggling with anxiety and depression, oh, also trauma, et’s talk about trauma for one moment because we see that a lot. We just see it everywhere in the therapy rooms these days. When there is trauma, if the person started out with the trait of high sensitivity, the trauma is going to be much bigger and more challenging for them. They’re going to have much stronger feelings about it. They’re also going to be more susceptible to treatment. Now, someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder or some strong trauma reaction, their brain may become more sensitive and reactive. It doesn’t mean they have the trait, however, it doesn’t matter. They need the same things. If you have a reactive brain and a higher level of sensitivity, you need to slow your life down. That’s one thing, is that we really are going to see more anxiety and depression. Let’s be aware though, that it’s likely with a highly sensitive person that we might see, say more dysthymia or cyclothymia than bipolar or major depression. We might see them struggle more with postpartum depression and like I said, stronger trauma reactions. We have to be very careful though, because they have such strong feelings and such strong empathy that they come in, they’re really, really upset about something and very depressive. When you interview them about what it is, maybe it’s about global warming or the fires or the war, that is an appropriate emotional reaction for a highly sensitive person. They have very strong emotional responses. It doesn’t mean a depression. At the same time, we all know that depression is something that creates these crevices in the brain that we are more likely to go back there. So I’m very strict with my highly sensitive clients who have had major depression, that they don’t let themselves go there. We start intervention, whatever works for them, whatever the treatment is, we start it right away at the first signs. But also that we process, that’s depressing, doesn’t mean depression. Same with anxiety. Also, we might see them, sometimes people think HSPs are bipolar or cyclothymic because they’re so excited and so happy about something. But remember, their happy emotions are even stronger than their negative emotions so check it out. There might be actually a reason that they’re all worked up about something. [JOE] Now what about therapists that identify or have the trait of being highly sensitive people? What should they consider? [ALANE] We think that maybe half of therapy clients have this trait of high sensitivity because they love deep processing. They love that good intense, intimate one-on-one relationship. So therapists might be more drawn, who are highly sensitive, people might be drawn to becoming therapists often. It’s a really, really hard job for us. I know my maximum number of clients per week is only 10. That’s hard but I know because I’m highly sensitive, I’m really, really good and attentive so I just doubled my price so I could see 10 instead of 20. It worked out well for me. However, now I’m on a six-month sabbatical because I need a lot of breaks. So if you’re highly sensitive and you’re a therapist and say you’re in a clinic setting or you’re in a financial situation where you feel like you just have to power through a lot of clients, you need to create some hacks. One of my interventions is lean back. Even as I’m talking to my computer, I can’t even see you, Joe, but I’m leaning toward it because I’m so engaged, I’m so interested. What we really need to do is we can be connected and leaning in. We don’t have to physically lean in. It’s okay to really take a little bit of space. Highly sensitive therapists need longer breaks, 10 minutes won’t cut it between clients because you’re taking everything in so deeply that it’s a lot. You need more time in between. I think it’s really great for highly sensitive therapists to find a way to see their clients outside. Many of us did that during the pandemic, just out of necessity and many of us were seeing clients on screen. So you do at least have the ability to be more comfortable. You don’t have to be perfect on screen. In fact, I have a colleague who’s a highly sensitive, she’s also an international consultant in high sensitivity and a therapist. Whenever I talked to her on Zoom, she is just chillaxing in her chair. She’s sitting at her desk, her computer’s on the desk, you can see the windows behind her, see outside in the woods at her house but she’s just very relaxed in her chair. I just think that’s a fabulous metaphor. It’s an actual intervention, but it’s a really good metaphor. So if you’re a highly sensitive therapist you are in fact feeling more strongly about all the stuff that you’re taking in. You do need more consultation to help you have really good boundaries, and you need to be so gentle with yourself. [JOE] I love that you landed on so gentle with yourself. The thing you said at the beginning when we were talking about parenting was, what’s good for highly sensitive people is good for the rest of us. Talk about being gentle with yourself and why that’s important for HSPs, but also maybe why you think that might be good for humanity. [ALANE] Well, I don’t know about you, but the reason I became a therapist I think is probably because I’m an adult child of an alcoholic family and a highly sensitive person. So I come by my codependence naturally. I mean, we are helpers. We want to change the world. We want to help people. Some of us might be here here just because we’re really good at it, but I just don’t think very many people would go into this profession unless they really cared about others and really wanted to make a difference. That’s a noble, a noble profession and a noble way to live in the world. At the same time it sort of put your oxygen mask on first. I think sometimes we get so caught up in our work, and look, I’ve been in mental health for three decades and I’ve had a lot of great supervision and consultation and given a lot of great supervision and consultation. That’s key. At the same time, despite all those years of experience, I still care so much. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I have to care at least as much for myself, heal or heal self, healer, model, really great self-care and really great tenderness toward oneself. Your children will learn from that and your clients will learn from that and you’ll be a better person. [JOE] Well, the last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know? [ALANE] I would really want you to know that you do enough. I really, I want you to take a loving kindness chant or meditation, may people be happy and may you be safe and protective from harm, all of those statements, whichever one’s worked for you, and to say them to yourselves every day and maybe even between every client. Because as a therapist, you have a level of sensitivity, whether you’re a highly sensitive person or not, that causes you to be able to have a huge impact on the world, individually with your clients, but also energetically in the world. So please treat your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul with as much reverence as you possibly can. Take care of yourself so that you are the emotional leaders that we all need us all to be. [JOE] Alane, if people want to follow your work, watch your videos and learn more about what you’re doing, where’s the best place to send them? [ALANE] Well, my name is spelled uniquely, so I’m really the only one. You can spell my name, which is in the show notes on YouTube or on the internet. My website is alanefreundlmft.com and alanefreund.com will get you there. I’m the same on everywhere on social media you look up my name. I am pretty proud of my YouTube channel. When the pandemic started, I decided I can’t travel and teach so you know what I’m going to teach on YouTube, so I’ve got all kinds of little videos on there. Come and check them out. I think you’ll like them. [JOE] You have a free download for our audience. It’s a community conversation for HSPs on love and what it means in our lives and relationships with a video entitled HSPs and Love. Will you tell us a little bit about that and how they can grab that? [ALANE] Yes. I love doing community conversations and in this particular one, my co-conversationalist couldn’t make it so I ended up just teaching for that time. Relationships are hard for us, the same way we started talking about the siblings. It’s hard to be in intimate relationships when you feel everything so deeply and you need a lot of time and space to yourself. So I really dig into some good tools and also to how you can really make love your superpower as a highly sensitive person and it will help your clients as well, it’s at the Are You Highly Sensitive store, and we’ll have in the, how should we do that, we’ll have in the show notes a coupon that you can use to download it. [JOE] Okay, yes, I think usually we just use coupon [JOE] for that. We’ll coordinate with you and your team to make sure that that happens before this goes live. Thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice Podcast. [ALANE] Oh, thank you so much for having me, Joe, and good luck to everybody out there. [JOE] I love when shows are not just practical for you, the listener, but that I can really apply it to. Like, while we were talking, I actually did the is your child highly sensitive test and my daughter scored 17 and needed a 13. So even just to be able to know, okay, like I should dig into this more as a dad, and not that I didn’t care before, like of course I cared, but when it’s your own kid, it’s like I’m going to dig into this. So whether it’s your own child, whether it’s you as a therapist or business owner or the clients or the customers that you work with just knowing that this percentage of the population has this trait and that it has evolutionary benefit it just made me think so differently today. There’s even a loved one of mine who is a male that was diagnosed with ADHD and I texted him while we were interviewing and said, “Hey, have you ever done a HSP test?” It’s just really exciting to have just these new ideas of how to engage with friends and family differently. I hope it was beneficial to you too. If you want extra help in growing your practice, we have a team of one-on-one consultants that anywhere from $495 to $1,495 a month you can get some really individualized one-on-one help, whether that’s with me or one of the team members that I’ve trained. If you’re just getting started we have a consultant, Andrew, who can help you with that early stage growing your practice. We’ve got two consultants that can help with your group practice and starting a group, growing a group. We do have lots of masterminds, but sometimes you just want that individual hand-holding and you want to be able to have someone walk you through it. Or maybe you want me to help you continue to grow your bigger audience. Maybe you want to start a podcast or an e-course or a side hustle. Depending on where you’re at in your journey we would love to help you and you can apply over at practiceofthepractice.com/apply. The process is super simple. We just go through and we look at your numbers, we look at your goals, we say, where’s the low-hanging fruit and then say, “Hey, here’s what we recommend.” We recently just did the numbers on how many practices we’ve helped and we’ve actually helped practices and people that have launched outside of their practices collect over 25 million in just like growing their businesses. I mean, that’s thousands of clients that have been helped. So if you’re looking for someone that can help you grow as well, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/apply. Would love to work with you and help amplify what you’re working on. Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. Talk to you, I almost said I’ll help you soon. I’ll help you soon, but I’ll talk to you soon also. Bye. Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the producers, the publishers, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.

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