The Highly Sensitive Person

The Highly Sensitive Person in Psychotherapy

Saturday 25 July 2020 - London

A Workshop with Dr Elaine Aron, Dr Art Aron and Dr Michael Pluess

We often think of highly sensitive people as having less structured boundaries than others: their heightened responses can be confused with poor ego function, with personality or mood disorders. But in this conference we will be looking at new work with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) as those who have an innate trait of sensory processing sensitivity (SPS).




Registration and Coffee

Dr Michael Pluess
Individual Differences in Environmental Sensitivity: Risk, Resilience and Implications for Treatment
The notion that some people are more affected than others by the same experience is widely embraced in most fields of psychology and usually framed in a Diathesis-Stress perspective: some people are more vulnerable to adverse experiences as a function of inherent risk characteristics (eg, personality, genes). More recently, it has been suggested that individuals may vary in their Environmental Sensitivity more generally: some are more affected by both negative as well as positive influences. Building on this now empirically well-supported proposition, the concept of Vantage Sensitivity refers to variation in response to exclusively positive experiences, such as psychological interventions (Pluess & Belsky, 2013). After introducing these different theoretical perspectives and presenting empirical evidence for each of them featuring behavioural, physiological, neuroimaging and genetic factors as moderators of a wide range of experiences ranging from family environment and psychotherapy to educational intervention, Michael will point out important conceptual differences between the concepts before discussing potential mechanisms of sensitivity and practical implications.


Dr Elaine Aron
Clinical Implications of the Research for Assessment
The research findings on differential susceptibility, along with the characteristics of SPS associated with it, do make assessment complex. Presentations may vary from a patient with a good childhood but severely stressed due to being overstimulated by mismanaged success, to those with traumatic childhoods or severe attachment issues who are deeply troubled and in whom sensitivity might be missed. Further assessment complications result from other traits that may be present, for example, extraversion or high sensation seeking. We will discuss what to look for in a patient’s history and current presentation, and the three mistakes to be avoided. Elaine will conclude the session with an experiential exercise in pairs.


Dr Elaine Aron
Most Typical Clinical Issues Related to the Trait
In this session Elaine will describe some typical problems of HSPs with the clinical implications for supporting clients. These issues include dealing with overstimulation and setting boundaries; managing their stronger emotional reactions, particularly in relation to criticism; low self-esteem; and the need to reframe even a good childhood and work history. Also therapists may need to support clients to consider the feasibility of continuing in a lifestyle like those without the trait. In the time remaining we will explore a few of the special issues that arise for highly sensitive men, highly sensitive children and highly sensitive parents.


Dr Art Aron
Highly Sensitive People in Relationships, Including the Therapist
Art will be talking about the interface of SPS and relationships. This will include a discussion on countertransference in the therapeutic relationship, along with presenting research findings and relating to established practices for improving HSP’s relationships. Finally, Art will lead an in depth exploration of a participant’s relationship to high sensitivity, either in themselves for those who are HSPs or in influential past relationships with partners, parents, children, mentors or patients.




Handouts and lunch included:

Confer member:
(Click here to become a member)


2 x Self-funded:

Psychotherapy trainee:
£80 (10 places only)


Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event


6th Floor, Foyles Bookshop
107 Charing Cross Road



09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15.00 Tea
17:00 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.