As someone who’s always been fascinated by the depths of human emotion and the power of intuition, I was beyond excited when I received the opportunity to interview Dr. Judith Orloff.
For years, her groundbreaking work has resonated with empaths all around the world, providing guidance and solace during the most difficult times.
Through her unique approach, which combines traditional psychology with intuitive healing, Dr. Orloff has helped countless individuals, including myself, transform their sensitivities into strengths.
In this exclusive interview, we delve into this fascinating world and her groundbreaking work in emotional healing and intuitive growth.
We explore her personal journey as an empath, her thoughts on the evolving landscape of mental health, and her vision for a future where empathy and intuition are celebrated and cultivated.
Dr. Judith Orloff Interview
1. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you started writing about psychology and personal growth?
In my book, Second Sight, I recount my journey to accept and embrace my intuitive abilities.
I was an intuitive, empathic only child who was raised by two parents who were physicians (I come from a lineage of 25 physicians in my family).
My parents finally told me not to mention my intuitions again at home so I grew up believing there was something wrong with me.
My healing journey as a psychiatrist and a woman, has been to integrate intuition with my conventional linear training to help patients heal, as well as to become whole myself.
2. Many of our readers are familiar with your book “The Empath’s Survival Guide.” What inspired you to write specifically about empaths, and how did you come to the realization that you’re an empath yourself?
Empaths and highly sensitive people are hugely neglected and misdiagnosed in the medical system.
I consider this a travesty.
My mission as a psychiatrist and empath is to empower empaths and help them embrace their gifts and cope with the challenges.
As a child I couldn’t walk into a crowded mall or gathering without getting exhausted, anxious, depressed or experiencing some ache or pain I didn’t have before.
I didn’t realize that I was an empath who can be an emotional sponge that absorbs the energy of the world—which is particularly intense in crowded places.
I didn’t have a word for it back then, but I was an empath.
It was a term I developed and popularized in my book The Empath’s Survival Guide.
In this book, I wanted to offer empaths and all caring people strategies to thrive and also stop absorbing the negativity of the world.
💬 “Spirituality isn’t static. It’s an evolving optimism that won’t let hardship get the best of you.”
3. In your book “Emotional Freedom,” you discuss how people can transform their lives by overcoming negative emotions. What are some practical tips you can give our readers to help them manage their emotions more effectively?
If you are an empath who is experiencing fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety or depression you might be absorbing the stress of various types from other people.
A technique I suggest to my patients is to “Observe, Don’t Absorb”.
Practically this means not looking deeply into people’s eyes or empathizing so much it depletes you.
Take a few steps back to Establish Healthy Boundaries so you can see yourself as separate from others—and allow them their own experiences without taking them on.
4. Throughout your career, which authors or thinkers have had the most significant impact on your work and ideas?
- Mary Oliver, poet laureate and friend who taught me the overlap of intuition and the written word—particularly poetry, which I’ve written since I was a child.
- Stephen Michell, sacred translator and gifted writer, who taught me the power of honesty in personal memoir – honesty without being emotionally indulgent or sentimental.
- Anything by the His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama who is an empathic role model for the world—and so brave!
💬 “Trust your intuition. It is the best friend you will ever have.”
5. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about empaths, and how do you address them in your books?
Common misconceptions about empaths are that they are weak, crybabies, have “too thin a skin” or are “overly sensitive.”
Empaths have a precious gift that needs to be nurtured and protected.
I address this in my books by offering empaths strategies to stay centered and strong, set healthy boundaries and be emissaries for love and goodness in the world—yet stay strong and focused.
A major theme in my books is that empathy is the medicine the world needs and we need to make the world a better place with empathy.
6. As a psychiatrist, you’ve likely encountered patients with a variety of mental health challenges. Can you share a unique approach or technique you’ve used to help individuals with their personal growth?
Empaths are often misdiagnosed with depression, panic disorder, exhaustion, chronic fatigue and chronic autoimmune disorders.
The first thing I do with all the patients is to have the take the 20-question ‘Are You an Empath?’ Self Assessment Test in The Empath’s Survival Guide to ascertain how much of an empath they are—and if indeed they are an empath at all.
This information gives me an important baseline of what their needs are so I can give people practical strategies such as boundary setting, breathing, meditation, and saying a positive “no” when need be.
7. What are some strategies you recommend for managing relationships, both personal and professional, as an empath?
Empaths need to honestly express their needs—such as the need for quiet and alone time—with their partners.
Too many empaths are afraid to express their needs for fear of being rejected or put down/some partners need to be educated about what it means to be an empath—so I counsel my patients in sensitive ways to educate their partners.
Also, some empaths need to sleep in separate beds or separate rooms to find the peace their soul needs.
This needs to be discussed with a partner too in a loving way that doesn’t make their partner wrong.
8. What does your daily routine look like?
For the last two years I have been writing a new book on the phenomenon of Empathy in general, for empaths and for everyone who has the slightest interest in developing more empathy in themselves.
So, I’ve been mostly by myself in a room, writing.
As an empath, I love quiet time.
I also spend time with my live-in partner Corey (a relationship coach) and we laugh, hike, walk by the ocean, watch movies, laugh, love each other.
Plus I really value friendships so I love having tea or going on walks with my friends.
I meditate every night before I go to sleep.
💬 “Empaths are creators, inventors, visionaries, artists, and people who feel first.”
9. As an expert in your field, you’ve likely observed various trends in the understanding and perception of empaths over time.
Since I’ve written The Empath’s Survival Guide a few years ago, I’ve received thousands of emails saying “Thank you. It is such a relief to know there is nothing wrong with me and that I can be around my sensitivities.”
There has been a massive awakening among empaths to see and feel their own power and enjoy their gifts.
10. What do you think is the most significant change in this area since you began your career?
More acceptance and tolerance of all of us empaths out there in the workplace, at home, in school—everywhere.
I’ve spoken at Google multiple times offering them (and other organizations) empath training.
Education in the workplace is key and I want to offer as many Empathy Trainings as possible to help change the hearts and minds of leadership and teams.
11. What are your favorite books that you would recommend to our readers?
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
12. As someone who has dedicated their career to helping people, can you share an experience or moment where you felt especially proud of the impact your work has had on others, and how that has inspired you to continue your journey as an author?
Speaking at the American Psychiatric Association about empathy and intuition in patient care—seeing the hunger of other fellow psychiatrists to learn how to do this to help their patients.
💬 “Empaths feel things first, then think, which is the opposite of how most people function in our overintellectualized society. There is no membrane that separates us from the world. This makes us very different from other people who have had their defenses up almost from the time they were born.”
13. While your work primarily focuses on helping empaths, have you encountered any interesting insights or observations about non-empaths that you believe could be valuable for our readers to understand?
Non-empaths can develop and share empathy with others—of course!
In my latest book, which will come out next year, I discuss all kinds of ways non-empaths can open their hearts and stay in their logical minds too.
You can be both linear and empathic.
14. Your work also emphasizes the importance of self-care. Can you share a unique self-care practice that you’ve discovered and found particularly beneficial in your own life?
Taking adequate alone time is crucial for me.
If I am rushed, pushed or stressed I am at risk for developing sensory overload which is extremely painful and takes a while to recover from.
15. Finally, what is one key piece of advice you would give to our readers who are seeking to improve their lives and embark on a journey of personal growth?
Keep the beginner’s mind, every day, no matter how much you think you know—see life fresh each day.
Be a student of life and try to be grateful for the life you’ve been given.
Love to all!
✍️ Embrace your empathic abilities: Acknowledge and nurture your gift as an empath, focusing on personal growth and self-awareness to unlock your full potential.
✍️ Set healthy boundaries: Learn how to establish and maintain boundaries in relationships and social situations to avoid emotional overload and maintain a sense of well-being.
✍️ Advocate for empath awareness: Spread understanding and acceptance of empaths in your workplace, relationships, and social circles, fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment.
✍️ Cultivate empathy in non-empaths: Encourage others to explore and develop their empathic abilities, creating a more compassionate and interconnected community.
✍️ Prioritize self-care: Dedicate time for personal self-care routines, such as taking alone time, to ensure emotional balance and overall well-being.