Highly sensitive people, or HSPs, are typically characterized by the following traits:
- sensitivity to light and sounds
- easily overwhelmed in crowded places and situations
- sensitivity to medications, caffeine, alcohol, and allergens
- lower pain threshold (we feel physical pain more intensely)
- feeling more drained than others after socializing
- easily startled
- affected by the moods and energy of people around them (sometimes taking on other people’s feelings, thoughts, or mood patterns)
Many healers and people called to work in the healing professions are highly sensitive. This is because, as HSPs, we are generally:
- highly empathetic
- eager to help and serve others
- eager to alleviate others’ suffering
- deeply compassionate
- able to perceive unspoken or “hidden” patterns and energy (including unspoken feelings of distress, sadness, anger, etc in other people)
- eager to contribute meaningfully to the world and feel a strong sense of purpose in the work that we do
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a healer, coach, spiritual practitioner or teacher.
By the way, being a healer doesn’t mean you need to have a business doing this work (though of course it can mean that). It can also mean that you anchor and embody a healing energy in everything you do – how you interact and speak with others in daily life, how you listen to people, how you offer supportive guidance when others come to you for help.
In other words, being a healer is not really about whether you have a business or not, or whether you earn an income doing healing or spiritual work. Being a healer transcends these earthly conditions. It’s truly a state of being rather than a state of doing.
And, being a healer in the professional sense of working with one-on-one clients, also comes with its challenges. Especially if you’re an empath or an HSP.
In this article, I offer advice on how to take care of your own energy, boundaries, and sanity while working with clients in a healing or spiritual capacity. All of these suggestions are subjective and based on my professional experiences working with clients for over 5 years. Take what resonates and leave the rest!
Perhaps the most crucial thing in working with clients is to put practices in place to prevent burnout. If you burn out, you won’t be of any use to others or even yourself.
Practice #1: Identifying your soulmate clients (and letting go of non-soulmate clients)
You’ve probably heard this before – many times – but it is important to figure out who your ideal clients are.
And figuring this out must go beyond the surface identification of your ideal clients’ age bracket, gender, profession, likes and dislikes, pain points, etc.
All of this is important, YES, but it’s even more important to figure out who your soulmate clients are at an energetic, emotional, and vibrational level.
You can explore this by asking questions like:
- Has my soulmate client already experienced a spiritual awakening?
- Where are my soulmate clients on the path of spiritual development? Are they just getting started, or have they been on the spiritual path for a while?
- How do my soulmate clients feel about boundaries? Are they able and willing to respect others’ time and energy?
- What are my soulmate clients really looking for? Are they looking to be “saved”, or are they able to take ownership of their own healing and progress?
- What do my soulmate clients already know about the work I do? For example, if you work with a specific modality (Tarot, Akashic Records, Reiki, psychosynthesis, NLP, Somatic Experiencing, etc), how much do you need/want your clients to know about it ahead of time?
- Are my soulmate clients looking for a one-off session, or are they interested in longer-term work with me?
Once you figure some of these things out, you can use your marketing to attract your soulmate clients and, even more importantly, filter out non-soulmate clients.
In the words of marketing genius Andre Chaperon:
One counter-intuitive truth we’ve learned is that success in business is as much about who you turn away as it is who you welcome through the door. Maybe even more. (If you’ve ever had a negative interaction with a client or customer, you know that it can be soul-draining.) We (all of us!) get to choose who we do business with, not the other way around. This insight is easily missed.
Please read those words again. And again. Until it really sinks in that YOU get to choose who you work with – not the other way around.
And, just as in any other relationship in your life, make sure you’re choosing to attract clients who value your work, respect your time, are willing and able to pay in full (happily!), and are able to take responsibility for themselves.
This will make your healer-client interactions much smoother, joyful, and fruitful for everyone.
Practice #2: Setting up and enforcing clear boundaries
Again, as in any other relationship in your life, your healer-client relationships must have clear boundaries.
Rule #1: Your clients are not your friends. (You can be friendly with them, or develop friendships after working together, but it’s important to remember you are fulfilling a more specific – and professional – role in your clients’ lives.)
Rule #2: Your clients are not your family members. You don’t have to rescue, save, take responsibility for, or sacrifice yourself for your clients. (Or, for that matter, your family members!)
So, there must be a clear agreement about the standards and expectations that will govern your healer-client relationships. This is why contracts, disclaimer forms, and clearly outlined policies for your work are important.
It’s also important to apply the same standards for your clients across the board. This will ensure fairness. For example, if your policy is not to reschedule no-shows or missed appointments, make sure you’re enforcing that with all clients. (Of course, you might make an exception in cases of emergency.)
Make sure you express your session policies ahead of time, in written form, to all clients. These policies might cover areas like:
- refund policy
- policy for no-shows or missed appointments
- policy for clients who show up late to an appointment
- clarity about the results or outcome of each session (especially if you can’t guarantee any specific outcome or healing – make this clearly known to your clients)
Emails & DMs
Dealing with client emails is a whole separate topic – something I could write an entire blog post about!
Most clients tend to be respectful of your time and will only email to confirm the details of an appointment or with a specific question while you’re working together.
Sometimes, though, clients might write excessively long emails sharing many, many details of their lives and expecting you to respond. Or they might send emails with too many questions that you can’t really address properly in that format (it would take too long). Or people might send emails asking for guidance before they’ve paid for your time (or after the session is long over).
In each of these cases, it will be an individual decision whether you respond and how you respond.
I suggest keeping most of your emails short and polite, unless you’re responding to current clients (i.e., clients who are currently under contract with you).
You could spend your entire lifetime answering emails and giving free advice to people, especially non-clients. I suggest avoiding this at all costs.
Whenever it’s appropriate, send a short email directing people to your menu of services or clearly outlining how they can work with you. This should send the message that you’re not available to provide free coaching or healing work.
The same applies for DMs – direct messages on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc). For people asking for free guidance on these platforms, I suggest having a standard reply. Something like:
Hello [name]! Thank you for reaching out and for your interest in my work. This question/issue [whatever they’re asking about] is something I address in my one-on-one work with clients. Here’s a link to my services/Work With Me page. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Discovery calls – or quick strategy calls – are a standard offering in the online coaching and healing “industry”.
These calls help your potential clients identify whether they’d like to work with you or not.
At the same time, I encourage you to use these calls as a way to identify if YOU would like to work with someone or not. (Remember the sacred rule: you get to choose who you work with!)
During a discovery call, make sure you’re listening to your gut and paying attention to your body and energy. Ask yourself:
Do I want to get closer to this person energetically, or does it feel like we might not be on the same vibrational wavelength?
This is not about judging the other person or making them wrong or bad. It’s about noticing whether there’s a resonant energetic match with this person.
If there is, you will BOTH benefit from your interaction and work together.
If there isn’t a clear match, it’s your ethical responsibility to encourage this person to find someone else to work with.
Being a healer – in all senses of the word – is about being uncompromising when it comes to your personal and professional integrity. This means you will sometimes have to turn people away, graciously and respectfully, but with clear boundaries.
This will protect you, your business, and your energy while giving the other person the space to find what they’re really looking for.
Don’t ever override or suppress your intution during a discovery call. Use your intuitive senses to discern whether this would be a good match and a positive working relationship. Your gut will let you know!
Also, pay attention to whenever you feel drained after a discovery call. Notice if someone continues speaking and asking questions after your time together is up. This might be a sign that they have difficulty respecting time boundaries. It’s your responsibility in those moments to speak up and clearly say, “I’ve loved meeting you, but I have to end our call now.”
During discovery calls, it’s also important to establish a forward momentum. This means not allowing your potential client to ramble (some people will use discovery calls for this, unintentionally).
Instead, you must be moving towards a specific goal: figuring out if working together would serve both of you. Make sure you’re moving the potential client towards this goal throughout the call. To do so, you might have a standard set of questions for the call, such as:
- What moved you to reach out and schedule this call?
- What’s the main challenge/issue you’re facing right now?
- How do you feel my services could help you? / What’s the kind of support you’re looking for?
- Have you tried anything to solve this issue? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?
- What results would you hope to achieve by working together?
Taking Good Care of Yourself
As an HSP, it’s critical to be mindful of your own strengths and limits.
For example, I know some healers and coaches who see up to 10 clients per day, 5 days a week. I admire their stamina! And that kind of schedule would never work for me.
In my one-on-one work, I’ve been able to see up to 3 clients per day, max. Even that amount stretches my energetic and emotional muscles, because I get really drained after interacting with people.
Doing one-on-one healing or coaching work requires a lot of energy, focus, and presence. Figure out the number of clients per day or week that works for you, without trying to be like anyone else. Then stick to that number and make sure you close down your calendar or online scheduler once that number has been reached for a particular day or week.
Make sure you’re caring for yourself in between and after client sessions, too. Consider things like:
- staying hydrated
- eating enough (and nourishing) food
- being well-rested and getting enough quality sleep
- making sure your emotional and spiritual needs are met
- sticking to a daily routine of clearing, protection, and grounding
- clearing yourself and your healing space in between clients
- taking care of your personal life and resolving your own issues (to avoid bringing baggage into client sessions)
In your eagerness to show up, be of service, and help others, you might sometimes forget that YOU matter too. Your needs matter. Your sanity, energy, and health matter.
Please make sure you’re lovingly supporting yourself as you need so you can continue showing up and helping your soulmate clients.