By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
I had never intended to work with folks who deal with significant traumas, so when my colleague and friend suggested that I accompany her to see Bessel van der Kolk who was speaking in Ann Arbor on trauma, I insistently told her no, several times. But Barb can be very persistent and so I signed up for this great opportunity. I can’t thank her enough! This is one of those trainings that has greatly informed my work with Sensitives.
Dr. van der Kolk taught the group about the common responses that individuals frequently experience emotionally, relationally, and especially physically as a result of their traumatic experience. Because of his information, I suddenly had this ah-hah about the Sensitives that I work with and recognized how their experiences can be understood in the context of trauma that we recognize professionally and as a society. (I now refer to major illness, assault, accident, war, abuse, and neglect as the big T traumas). This information has informed my work ever since, and is key to what I teach my families, my clients, and professional groups about Sensitives.
Sensitives are those who are highly attuned to one or more of the 5 senses (taste, touch, see, hear, smell) and are typically also very intuitive, empathic and energy-aware. At the time of that conference, I already knew of the strong sensory awareness in the autistic population and was seeing it in folks who often experience ADHD and/or anxiety. I began to see the students and adults that I worked with as being on this sensory continuum of Sensitives. I focused on identifying these folks and helping them and others to focus on their strengths while mitigating their weaknesses. At the time I had only a few techniques to address the challenges for Sensitives. These included explaining the situation to their loved ones and their teachers so they can ‘walk a mile in their shoes’; recommending the removal of fluorescent lights, using natural lighting, and generally dimming room lights to address light sensitivity; and teaching the individuals how to modulate their empathic gifts.
Dr. van der Kolk explained [Read more…]