Sensitives and Empaths – Is there a difference?


Some use these two terms synonymously.  I will introduce my noted differences.


The term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) was coined courageously by the author and Psychologist, Elaine Aron within my lifetime.  Even so, her work was not yet at the forefront during my own childhood.  Her work was the first to identify key qualities that Sensitive children possess.  Coming across her work brought a huge sigh of relief to the 3-5 percent of society who were Sensitives. Earlier than her work, there was really no way to teach children who were Sensitives or Empaths how to maneuver though their lifetime with confidence.

Sensitives recognize early in their lives that the common-world is hostile.  This is jarring to our delicate natures which do thrive in harmony.  A Sensitive’s energy while in a physical body amplifies to a level that is highly sensory, yet this state was not, until recently acknowledged or identified by the mass culture.  When Sensitives enter their physical body and find themselves within an environment of chaos and conflict, a catalytic activation of their nervous system occurs. They become hyper-sensitive to surroundings that are not calm and harmonious, and do easily absorb information, energy and emotions from others, while concluding that it must be their own.  This is most confusing for them.

I work with many Sensitives who are drawn to my practice.  My own grappling and eventual development of skills supporting my sensitive makeup –  makes me a magnet for Sensitives.  I have a clear understanding of their challenges.


When a young sensitive witnesses hostility and violence, they are swiftly traumatised early in their lives.  This assertion is by no means a blaming statement.  For we know within us, that we do choose such an environment to rapidly plunge ourselves into this Earthly reality of diversity. We all agreed to be here.

We all come from a high vibration of love, wherein peace, calm and harmony is the dominant vibration.  Sensitives maintain this vibration while entering into physicality so are jostled into trauma early.

Most often they place themselves into families who will not understand their makeup: who in fact view them with some concern.  Family members will attempt to “toughen a Sensitive up” or “make them more normal”.  Sometimes Sensitives are medicated, which do numb their sensitivities to the point where they may feel more normal or accepted.

Either way, the Sensitive carries from childhood internal messages telling them, they are not a fit, and there is something wrong with them.  Yet they are the very beings who hold hidden brilliance and untapped potential.  The school and medical systems are not equipped to identify and guide their brilliant potential.

The term Trauma means that the human being senses and observes threat to the level where they view their own life to be at peril.  It can either be imagined or true, yet the physical body which is partnered with the ego-personality concludes that their demise is at hand.  This is when the ego activates the nervous system to react with hyper-vigilance.  Every physical and intuitive sensory mechanism now becomes hyper-reactive.

Within Ego’s actions is the mandate to keep this human being alive.  Yet it causes the Sensitive to fear everything, and to make themselves smaller; invisible even, where possible.

Sensitives learn to keep their environment at a peaceful equilibrium by sensing the needs of surrounding others and taking care of other’s needs.  They become pre-emptive around conflict or chaos.  They create a space for themselves where they can feel a sense of safety.  Some do this in closets, hiding places, or nature.


Sensitives spend much of their time alone to regroup, gather their energy and ground into their safe space.  Whenever a Sensitive walks out of their safe space, their sensing -mechanism is once again activated to experience every sound, scene, person, taste, smell and emotion at such a harsh and amplified level.  Sensitives can hear sound like it is sonic, smell chemicals to the point of headaches, and experience artificial lighting as draining their life force and energy.

Witnessing violence is as if the violence falls upon our very selves.  We carry the scenes through out our days and sleepless nights.  That is why Sensitives decide to avoid watching the news, and instead focus on stories which hold hope for mankind.

Beginning life as a Sensitive always includes experiencing others around us using similar advice and recommendations.

  • You are too sensitive; you need to thicken your skin.

  • You hold your heart on your sleeve.  That is weak.

  • Why are you STILL so sad (or grieving)? It’s time to move on!

  • Get over this: pull up your boot straps!

Yet the Sensitive eventually learns that there is a reason why they feel and sense with such intensity.  Why they remember clearly coming from a dimension of love and can with ease sense discord, even if it is hidden or within an energy field.



The term Empath is – the Sensitive – who has realized their quandary within their Earth life. They have thusly taken the time to seek out a Guide or Mentor to develop their sensitivities into Intuitive-gifts.  They have made each past awkward situation into “grist for the mill” or in other words, they have made lemonade out of some bitter situations.

Sensitives and Empaths hold within them a most precious and noble quality.  They are the strong balancers and stabilizers of energy.  Within their challenges arises great power, which most beings on the planet are unable to recognize or identify.  Even so, the ripple-out affect is profoundly noticed by many (if not all).  It is often not understood, yet the Sensitive’s ability is clearly noted.

The term Empath is eventually adopted because Sensitives have at some point or juncture, take ownership of their makeup.  Within their skill development, they utilize their sensitivities to assist others by tapping into their super-sensory tendencies.  In a manner of speaking, they have stepped into their own authority and developed mastery and wisdom about what they brought in to the world.  They live each day in an ever-progressive state by willingly expanding their intuition.


If this article resonates with you, and you are looking to understand more about your qualities as a Sensitive, feel free to set up a consult for some time to talk.

Roger Mutimer