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‘High sensitivity is not a clinical diagnosis, but a personality trait you can harness’

Do you often feel drained after a day at the office? The new SPS Monitor measures how sensitive you are to various stimuli. Psychologist Véronique de Gucht developed the questionnaire. 'I want to demystify high sensitivity.'

Those who are highly sensitive are more attuned to sounds and smells and can also pick up on others' emotions effectively. 'In the 1990s, a questionnaire was developed to map high sensitivity, but it mainly focused on the negative aspects of sensory sensitivity, such as becoming quickly overwhelmed when confronted with many stimuli at once,' explains De Gucht. 'I wanted to explore the positive aspects as well, such as the extent to which someone is sensitive to the emotional impact of art or the emotions in a group.'

Measure your sensitivity to stimuli

Therefore, she developed a new questionnaire, the SPSQ, which was published in an international journal. 'Not only scientists but also therapists were eager to use the questionnaire. That's when my colleague Dion Woestenburg and I further developed it into the SPS Monitor.' Starting this Week of Highsensitivity, the monitor is now available for free for everyone.


After completing the questionnaire, you immediately see a clear visualisation of your score on different scales compared to the average of a large sample from the general population. What can you do with this information? 'The monitor helps you gain self-knowledge. If the questionnaire shows that you struggle to handle the many demands and stimuli from the outside world, it explains why you feel burnt out after a party and need to retreat. You can then start thinking of strategies to cope better, such as planning a quiet day if you know you'll be going out in the evening.' But the monitor also offers insight into the positive sides of high sensitivity, such as in the workplace. 'Those who score high on the social effectiveness scale have an easy understanding of others' emotions and intentions. This makes you particularly suited for providing professional advice, for example.'

Not a self help tool

De Gucht emphasises: the monitor is purely informational and not a self-help tool. 'If high sensitivity leads to psychological problems, such as burnout, I recommend seeking help from a psychotherapist.' Nevertheless, De Gucht often receives requests from fellow psychologists for the questionnaire when they suspect a client might be highly sensitive. 'The monitor's results are a starting point for further discussion in therapy.'

Demystifying high sensitivity

'We are currently researching the relationship between high sensitivity and work stress in collaboration with the Flemish Association for Highly Sensitive Persons. Is there a link between SPSQ scores and the likelihood of burnout?' Based on the data now being collected with the SPS Monitor, the questionnaire is being further refined and optimised. De Gucht is also working on versions in different languages. 'My goal is to raise awareness about high sensitivity. Until a few years ago, a colleague dismissed it as a 'Libelle concept.' I want to demystify the phenomenon. High sensitivity is not a clinical diagnosis but a personality trait that people possess to varying degrees. And knowing which areas you're more sensitive in allows you to set boundaries better and leverage your strengths.'

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