The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

Empath's Survival GuideI’m a big fan of borrowing books from my local library. My philosophy is, “Why buy a book when you can just borrow it and return it?” It saves money, and more importantly, it frees up precious space in your bookcase.

But Dr. Judith Orloff’s book, “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People” is one book that you’ll want to own and refer back to again and again. It’s a valuable resource for anyone who gets overwhelmed by living in our high-stimulus world.

Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist in private practice in Los Angeles, CA and she is also a member of the clinical faculty at UCLA. She’s a New York Times bestselling author of 5 books and has been featured on various main stream television shows. She specializes in treating empaths and sensitive people, teaching them coping skills to turn the curse of overwhelm into the gifts of intuition, insight and compassion.

There has been a lot written about the challenges that introverts and highly sensitive people (HSP) face in a society that values intellect and disdains sensitivity. But in this book Judith Orloff, M.D,  goes a step further.  In clear, easy to understand language, she explains the difference between ordinary empathy, the “highly sensitive person” and what it means to be an empath.

Even if you are an empath, and you are well versed in what that means, you’re bound to learn many new things from this book. Dr. Orloff delves deep into the nuances of the different types of empaths – and each type’s unique gifts.

She outlines 3 major categories of empath: Physical Empaths, Emotional Empaths and Intuitive Empaths. And then she breaks them down into numerous sub-categories.  For example, there are 7 different types of Intuitive Empaths. Who knew? But once you are aware of their differences it all makes perfect sense.

Dr. Orloff describes each sub-category and their unique challenges and gifts. The book contains easy to take self-assessments to ascertain which type of empath you are and where you fall on the sensitivity scale.

As Orloff writes, “Determining to what degree you are an empath will clarify your needs and the strategies you must learn to meet them. This is essential to gain a comfort zone in your life.”

She then offers practical tips and useful tools that each type of empath can use to thrive in a world that often overwhelms them.

Although the title of this book is “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” this book is valuable for people who are not empaths, themselves. Partners, parents, teachers, friends, co-workers and bosses of empaths will all find this book helpful in understanding the unique needs and challenges of empaths. And certainly, everyone could benefit from Orloff’s exercises, strategies and techniques to manage your own energy in the midst of overwhelm.

I was impressed at the comprehensive nature of this book. There is a section on The Science of Empathy where Orloff presents the scientific findings explaining the empath experience. She also devotes chapters to Empaths and Addiction, Empaths, Love and Sex, Empaths and Work, and Parenting Sensitive Children.

Orloff draws on her own experience as an empath, as well as her 30+ years of treating her empath patients.  She doesn’t shy away from metaphysical topics such as Indigo Children, Mediumship, Channeling and the Evolution of Consciousness. She treats these topics with the same grounded approach in which she presents the latest neuroscience, which makes them more palatable to the uninitiated.

A good portion of the book is devoted to giving the empath protection strategies. One criticism I have is that in her treatment of Energy Vampires she seems to divide the world into an Us and Them polarity with empaths on one side and Energy Vampires on the other.

In my 15+ years of working with highly empathic people in my Resonance Repatterning practice I have found that empaths, themselves, if left untrained can be unwitting Energy Vampires.

To her credit, Orloff does mention the co-dependent dynamic that empaths often fall into in their relationships. Since empaths feel other people’s emotions, and are dragged down by other people’s distress, Orloff writes that it is important for empaths to heal their own triggers as a crucial coping strategy.

I would take this a step further and say that since empaths are sponges for other people’s negativity, empaths should receive regularly scheduled energy healing session “clean-outs” from a qualified practitioner as part of their ongoing maintenance routines.

The heart of the book is the Protection Strategies and it’s clear that Orloff wants you to use these on a regular basis.  As such, she has included a Quick Reference Guide for easy access.  You can refer to this guide “whenever you need to easily access a range of options to protect yourself from exhaustion and overwhelm.”

And that’s the message and the hope that this book offers.

Instead of living your life exhausted, overwhelmed, shut down and burned out, you can learn to manage your empathy and start reaping the benefits of its extraordinary gifts.










About Elizabeth Tobin


  1. Thank you so much for your comprehensive review Liz. I always appreciate your thoughtful and thorough reviews.


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