Are you a super sensitive person? Have you been told that you need to toughen up and stop having so many feelings? Ever felt super overwhelmed in a large crowd or public place? You just might be an empath. If you think you might be an empath and you are wondering how you can go about finding a great online therapist, then you are in the right place. Not sure if you are an empath but still want to explore therapy for someone who is highly sensitive? This is for you, too. In this article, we will go over who empaths are and how they can go about finding the best therapy online, as well as the pros and cons of online therapy versus traditional therapy.
What is an empath?
If you have ever found yourself asking, “Am I an empath?” you very well might be. Empaths are highly-empathetic people who feel deeply for others. This is not the same as being sympathetic towards others. An empath According to BetterHelp:
“Empaths absorb the emotions of those around them and take on those feelings, which are sometimes quite intense. Sometimes, it can get to be too much, and an empath may experience symptoms of depression and anxiety because they are so affected by the people around them.”
If you have ever been told that you are a highly sensitive person, or even had someone remark that you are too sensitive, you may be an empath. Being a highly empathetic person is a blessing and a curse in its own right, but with the right therapist, you can learn to make being an empath into the biggest blessing you have known.
Empaths do not just feel mental and emotional pain, but can also feel physical pain. They tend to pick up on many experiences and emotions that others have gone through, even if that person is not as acutely aware of them.
While it may seem to be common sense, many don’t understand how incredibly stressful it is to be an empath. Dealing with not only your own emotions but the emotions of your friends, family, coworkers, and complete strangers is absolutely exhausting and can lead to major issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, chronic fatigue, and migraines, among other things. This is why it’s imperative that empaths find the right therapist, not to get rid of their “super power,” but to learn how to both control and nurture it.
Am I an empath?
If the above definition of an empath sounds like you, there is a great chance that you are one. There are other things to consider when trying to figure out if you are one, however. If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you might be an empath.
Does being in a crowded, public area throw you into an emotional tailspin? Because empaths can feel other people’s emotions and feelings, being around too many people can be incredibly overwhelming for them. This feeling of overwhelm can happen suddenly, with no warning. Being in crowds can leave an empath completely drained, which leads many to avoid them altogether.
Do people you seek you out for advice or just to lend an ear to listen to their problems? Not only do empaths feel the energy of others, but others tend to recognize empaths, even if it is just on a subconscious level. If you have ever been the friend that everyone goes to for advice, you might just be an empath. Unfortunately, this means you can be incredibly overwhelmed when it comes to close relationships, both platonic and romantic. Without learning how to manage your empath traits, it can be difficult to be in a relationship at all, but therapy can help with that.
Can you spot a liar from a mile away? Empaths are often considered walking lie detectors. They know when someone is bending the truth or outright trying to fraud someone, sometimes without even having to hear the person speak.
Do you have a hard time setting boundaries? Many times, this comes from not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, like a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a friend or family member. Because empaths are so highly attuned to the feelings of others, they often do not want to tell someone no or do anything that may upset, inconvenience, or burden them in any way. Having a lack of boundaries can lead to chronic depression and anxiety in the long term and can require the help of a professional if a person has never learned to set boundaries in the first place.
Are you an introvert? As you can imagine, being around a ton of people does not energize an introvert or an empath the way it would for an extrovert. Being around even a small group of people for an extended period of time is draining for an introvert and requires a lot of alone time to recharge and rest. it is no wonder most empaths are also introverts!
Have you been told you need to toughen up or stop being such a baby? Unfortunately, that is how a lot of people see highly sensitive folks. If you are someone who feels things strongly and deeply, it can often trigger others who do not understand to see you as weak and childish. Being an empath is not a weakness, however, but a strength. But if you have been talked down to like this throughout your life, it is a good sign you are an empath.
Do movies, tv shows, songs, and even commercials make you cry? If you have ever joked about being traumatized for life over one of those sad commercials about dogs in shelters as a kid, you might be an empath. While most people do have emotional reactions to these things from time to time, an empath generally cannot turn on the television or scroll through social media without being overwhelmed with emotion at the things they’re seeing. Along the same lines, are you easily startled by things like jump scares in movies and tv shows? If you find yourself hiding your head in your hands while also trying to cover your ears because you can feel something about to jump out at you on the screen, that goes to show that you have highly attuned senses and may be an empath.
Do you consider yourself to be highly intuitive? Maybe even borderline psychic? This is another sign of being an empath. Of course, non-empaths can also read body language and pick up the general “vibe” of a situation or person, but empaths do these things on an entirely different level. This can be overwhelming on the negative side, but it’s absolutely a “super power” when it comes to finding positive friendships and relationships. An empath can spot a fake or a phony friend from miles away and always knows when someone is only acting in their best interest to get ahead.
Do you love being in nature? Empaths are not only especially intune with humans, but also have a strong affinity for being in nature. They may like to relax on a kayak on a lake, go camping in the woods, or just take a nap out in their backyard. This also plays into another symptom of being an empath: the need for rest. For some empaths, few things sound more relaxing than a day alone on the beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore and not having to be around other people for a few hours.
These are not the end all be all signs that you may be an empath, but if the above questions made sense to you, then you might be. Keep reading to learn about how to find a therapist who can treat empaths like you.
How do I find an online therapist who treats empaths?
Therapy for empaths is a little tricky, especially compared to those who are not empaths. For one, the therapist needs to be understanding of what it means to be a highly sensitive person. It can be hard to find this kind of a therapist, but we recommend BetterHelp for finding experienced and knowledgeable therapists and counselors who know what it means to be an empath. Empaths frequently worry that they will not be taken seriously by a therapist, or, worse, a therapist may try to “cure” them of their empathy, which is something that does not need to be cured because it is not a disease. By using a service like BetterHelp, you will fill out a very detailed questionnaire about what you are looking for and what you are not, which will help you find the perfect therapist for you.
Online therapy for empaths can be a relief for one who comes from a more traditional in-person therapy background. With traditional therapy, generally you will need to spend at least an hour face-to-face with your therapist once a week or more. This can already be overwhelming for introverts, but when you add being an empath on top of that, it is exhausting. Online therapy can be done via video chat, phone calls, emails, instant messages, or text messages, depending on how you want to communicate. Learn more about how online therapy works below.
Why do empaths need specialized therapy?
it is not that empaths need specialized therapy any more than people with autism, depression, or bipolar do. However, when it comes to therapy, it is critical to get the best type of help you can, and that often means seeking out a specialist.
With empaths, a therapist’s goal should not be to completely get rid of their patient’s empathic abilities, but to teach them how to control, understand, and nurture them better than they can without any help at all. For example, one major issue most empaths have is that they are incredibly eager to please others, even at the expense of pleasing themselves and taking care of their own needs first. Because of this, empaths need a therapist who understands methods and practices that can be used to lessen this response of people pleasing.
A good therapist for empaths is an expert in teaching their clients ways to differentiate their feelings and the feelings they are picking up from those around them. While sometimes it may seem like an empath may want to just not feel anything at all, that is just as dangerous as feeling everything. A specialized therapist for empaths knows this and can help nudge their clients to bring their personal feelings to the forefront while leaving the feelings of those around them for another time.
Unfortunately, until relatively recently, many therapists and the scientific community at large did not believe empaths actually existed, and some considered it to be a fad that was made up on social media. However, around 2018, research showed that about one to two percent of the population are actually empaths. This number may be much larger, however, given the smaller sample size that was used in the studies. It goes without saying, connecting with a professional certified therapist who knows and understands your unique needs as an empath is critically important for your mental health and wellness journey.
How does online therapy work?
As mentioned above, online therapy is both similar and different than traditional therapy. While it is not a face-to-face in-person relationship with a therapist, online therapy does give patients the opportunity to communicate in the way they feel best works for them, whether it is through texts or video calls. This helps reduce sensory overload, or at least helps lighten the burden of it throughout the week. Online therapists have the same type of licensing and credentials as traditional therapists and must also be certified by their state’s board in order to provide therapy and counseling.
Some online therapy services will not ask you for a full name or contact information, that way you can be completely anonymous if you choose to do so. Your counselor, however, may request additional specific information, but it will be kept confidential.
There are four main ways you can communicate with an online therapist or counselor:
- Video chat
- Phone calls
- Live (text-based) chat
- Direct messages
Once matched with a counselor, you do not have to choose only one way to communicate, however. You can use whichever channel whenever you want fully based on your own convenience. For an empath, this is crucial because some days are more draining than others.
One of the only downsides to online therapy, however, is that an online provider cannot provide a legal diagnosis to prescribe medication or fulfill a court order. If this is the type of service you need, the only way to get this is through a traditional therapist.
When you sign up for an online therapy service like BetterHelp, you will fill out a questionnaire asking many of the same things a traditional therapist would ask during an intake session. The process can take between an hour to a few days, however, and is not an instantaneous process. While there is a fee for online therapy, generally it will not begin until you approve the counselor you are matched with and you begin your sessions.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover online therapy, but do be sure to check with your company beforehand. You may be eligible for partial coverage. If you cannot use your health insurance, talk with the organization you are going through for online therapy to find out if they have partial funding available.
How is online therapy different from traditional therapy?
Online and traditional therapy are pretty similar, though obvious differences exist, like being in person versus talking via an app or website. As mentioned above, one of the main positive aspects of online therapy for empaths is that it is not in person and does not need to be face-to-face or in real time at all. Unfortunately, there is a downside to this, as the therapist cannot pick up on your body language or nonverbal cues. Because of this, many online therapists do prefer video conferencing during sessions, but those therapists who understand and specialize in treating empaths will be well versed in treating patients without these things.
Online therapy is also much more convenient than traditional therapy. With traditional therapy, you have to leave the comfort of your home, travel to your therapist’s office, wait in the waiting room, and then sit with the therapist for at least an hour. This often means taking time off from work or school and having to find childcare for a few hours, and these sessions can even be more than once a week. Being able to just log on to a website or app is incredibly convenient and makes therapy much more accessible to those who do not have very flexible schedules.
Is online therapy effective?
Yes! There are several studies that have shown that online therapy is just as effective as traditional therapy for many common mental health issues, including those faced by empaths. Of course, just like with traditional therapy, online therapy can only work if the patient is putting in the work, not just passively listening to what the therapist is telling them they need to do.
One other important thing to note is that online therapy is better than no therapy at all! Online therapy gives many groups access to tools and care that they would not otherwise be able to receive. This includes those who are in remote or rural areas, people with physical mobility limitations, and for those who do not have a flexible work schedule or access to childcare.
Online therapy may not be effective for everyone, but when it comes to empaths and other introverts, it removes the barriers that are hard to overcome with traditional therapy.
How much does online therapy cost?
The cost of online therapy depends on the service provider or company you are receiving therapy through. If you go through BetterHelp, for example, prices can range from $60 to $90 per week, which is billed monthly. This will depend on factors like your preferences and therapist availability. This is actually quite a bit cheaper than traditional therapy, which can cost upward of $175 per weekly session. That price could be even more for someone who doesn’t have insurance at all and must pay for every session out of pocket.
There are some traditional therapists who also provide teletherapy appointments, especially post-COVID, but their rates tend to be the same amount whether you see them in their office or over the phone or computer. With companies like BetterHelp, however, you can often pay a longer subscription fee up front, rather than just the monthly fee, which can give you a bit of a discount, depending on the number of sessions.
Unfortunately, online counseling websites are not usually covered by insurance, whether it’s private or public. This is important to take into consideration, as cost is often a barrier for some people who are seeking therapy.
Final thoughts on therapy for empaths
As we’ve discussed throughout this article, it’s absolutely critically important for empaths to not only find a therapist that works for them (which generally happens to be one that works through an organization like BetterHelp and has a number of communication styles available) but also one that understands that being an empath is a super power, a strength, and a positive thing, and not something that should be hidden away or removed from a person’s personality. Without engaging in therapy with a certified professional who understands empaths, it is easy for an empath to feel like they are spiraling out of control or unable to deal with being around others for fear that they will be overwhelmed by feelings. One of the best ways to get this help, as we’ve mentioned, is through a company like BetterHelp or another online therapy company that has therapists who are specialized in working with empaths. Everyone deserves to feel happy and comfortable as who they are, and this includes empaths and other highly sensitive people.
Posted on: 4/21/2021 Written by: Jennifer Hamilton, RN.