HSP Gathering Retreats
"The Annual HSP Gatherings offer a unique opportunity to be renewed and validated. Each gathering, since 2001, has taken on its own special energy. I love observing unencumbered HSPs sharing in deep conversations, coming alive with insight, creativity and confidence."
The HSP gatherings were co-created in 2001 by Jacquelyn Strickland with Dr. Elaine Aron, and are coordinated and programmed by Jacquelyn. Scroll down to read "A Note from Jacquelyn," "Why HSPs Need to Gather" and go here to review the archives for each region. For an extensive view into one HSP's experience at the 3rd Annual West Coast Gathering,
please go to
Questions? Email Jacquelyn.
A Note from Jacquelyn,
Co-Creator of the HSP Gatherings
What is an ‘HSP Gathering'? Why not a conference, seminar, or workshop? We think of an HSP gathering as just how we call it: a group of people, all HSPs, who choose to come together for 3-4 days in a beautiful, nature-oriented setting. During that time you can have all your HSP questions answered, meet Elaine, and share your own story, if you like, of what it's like for you to be an HSP. Simple, Relaxing, Informative. Nourishing.
It has been very gratifying to know that the HSP Gatherings seem to be "therapeutic" even though they are not therapy. The therapeutic benefits seem to come from being within a group that not only understands you, but validates you as well. All you have to do is show up and be yourself. How many of us get that in our environments at home, work, or the world at large?
How Did I Become Involved in This?
Elaine Aron and Jacquelyn
- June 2007
It's been a long time since I first became acquainted with the concept of highly sensitive people. It was May 1996 while waiting for a bus in Mill Valley, California. I stood reading a flyer posted on a community bulletin board. I became delighted to know my special combination of traits actually had a name! I've gone from being in benign denial of my sensitivity to actually promoting highly sensitive people as a culture that has much to offer our rushed, and sometimes beleaguered society. That has meant that my work as a licensed professional counselor has expanded into a specialization in working with HSPs, and I have become a spokesperson, educator, and (egads), a budding author! I am particularly happy to be co-creator of these gatherings because I now know that becoming an empowered HSP is a process…and that by meeting with others for validation, support, and information we can greatly accelerate that process.
I especially like the quote I've adapted from The Artist's Way:
"HSPs like other HSPs. HSPs help each other.
As HSPs, we must find those who believe in us
and in whom we believe, and band together for
support, encouragement and protection."
Excerpted and adapted from:
The Artist's Way (changing the word artist to HSP)
So welcome to the world of HSP… It is indeed wonderful… and we can take it upon ourselves to make it even better by ‘coming out' as an HSP, and offering our unique gifts to the larger society. As many of you know, one of my visions is imagining a world full of empowered HSPs! Won't you join me?
All the best HSP wishes,
Report From the First Gathering:
Why HSPs Need To Gather
by Marcia Norris
(excerpted from the August 2001 issue of Comfort Zone newsletter)
When Elaine mentioned to me last fall that she was considering the idea of an 'HSP Conference,' my initial response was sky-high enthusiasm. I thought about the fascinating potential topics of discussion, learning about how others cope with all the stuff that plagues HSPs, finding commonalities and figuring out how I stack up.
Then about one and a half seconds later I was wondering where on earth I would ever find the energy to do it. All those unfamiliar people, sharing sleeping and restroom facilities and having no idea what I'd find at mealtime. That enthusiasm and the dread existed side by side -- and both at full force -- right on through the event itself. I'd venture to guess that a large number of you understand exactly what I was feeling. It's an HSP thing.
Given that HSPs are 10 to 15% of the population, very few of us knowingly live in proximity to each other. Only an infinitesimal number actually have the privilege of meeting with other HSPs on a regular basis -- typically in formal support or therapy groups in or near metropolitan areas. [Just writing that sentence makes me feel alienated.] Finding those of a similar temperament is tough, if not outright against the odds. It took contributions from Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Sweden(!) and all over California just to get 30+ of us together.
That means that most of the time HSPs face the prevailing world alone, without peers. Most of us spend our lives steeling ourselves against friends, family, and coworkers who don't understand why we can't simply "fit in." One woman who attended realized that she hadn't needed to "explain" herself all weekend. What a blessing. What a relief. HSPs need to gather so we can write our own rules -- even if just for a few days.
And write our own rules we did! My favorite was the freedom to "pass." If somebody didn't want to speak or felt overwhelmed they could just say "I pass." I for one reveled in the lack of requirement to conform. Nobody even blinked when I decided to duck out of a session Saturday afternoon to take a nap. Out in the larger world I'd likely have been met with scorn. At the Gathering I was actually well within the rules. So cool. It's an HSP thing.
I had the opportunity to conduct a "Quick Poll" and pose questions to the group that would not be asked in any "normal" group. HSPs need to gather so they have the chance to see the ways they are, and are not, like other HSPs. It gave everyone a giggle to see who raised their hands in answer to questions like: Who considers their pet to be among their best friends? How many have "come out" as an HSP to family and friends? Or, which of you are always the last one in a group to finish eating a meal? Those aren't ordinary questions. Why not? It's an HSP thing.
We came away validated, fortified, and armed with phrases to defend and explain ourselves. We saw how we were stronger than some and weaker than others, articulate or tongue-tied, thriving or stuck in our lives, accepting of our trait or in denial. But managing as best we could. We talked about the joys and drawbacks of being highly sensitive. That's why we need to gather.
It's an HSP thing. And I wouldn't have it any other way.