How to Find Success and Happiness as an Empath: An Interview with Judith Orloff, MD

By Casmin Wisner

I had the pleasure of interviewing Judith Orloff, MD. She is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist and an empath, is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty, has been featured on CNN, USA Today and in the Oprah Magazine, and has spoken at Google. She specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. You can find more information at

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

As a child I was an empath, a highly sensitive person who has strong intuition but takes on the emotions and energy of others. My parents—who were both physicians—said “Oh dear, you just don’t have a thick enough skin.” So I grew up believing that there was something wrong with me. As a psychiatrist and empath I want to validate all the highly sensitive people out there. I want to tell them there is nothing wrong with them. As an empath, you have a gift and need to learn skills to avoid taking on other people’s stress and the world’s angst. That’s why I became a psychiatrist and I wrote The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. I believe that empathy and empaths will save the world!

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I had a dream that a patient of mine was going to overdose on the antidepressants I prescribed her, but because she was doing so well, I dismissed the dream. A few weeks later she did overdose on the pills and ended up in an ICU for a week. Thank goodness she survived. But this experience taught me to always value my intuition as a physician as well as in my personal life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I had an intuition that a patient of mine was having an affair with a man named Sam. I asked her about it. She just smiled and said, “Sam is my dog!” This was a humorous lesson to not project my own expectations onto a name (Sam=person) when Sam was actually a dog.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The paperback version for The Empath’s Survival Guide is out this month! I am so excited about helping empaths awaken across the globe. I just spoke about empaths at Google to a fantastic audience of engineers and their spouses. My online course for empaths titled “The Empath’s Survival Guide Online Course” just went live and is available on demand to watch at your convenience at

Can you share the most interesting story from your book?

If you are an empath there is a 20 question self-assessment quiz you can take in the book. Determining that you are an empath is a huge missing piece in your life and can affect your health, relationships, work and more! Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do I take on other people’s stress? Have I’ve been labeled as “overly sensitive,” shy, or introverted?
  2. Do I frequently get overwhelmed?
  3. Do arguments or yelling make me ill?
  4. Do I often feel like I don’t fit in?
  5. Am I drained by crowds and need alone time to revive myself?
  6. Am I over-stimulated by noise, odors, or non-stop talkers?
  7. Do I have chemical sensitivities or can’t tolerate scratchy clothes?
  8. Do I prefer taking my own car places so I can leave early if I need to?

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

I want people to view their empathy as a most precious trait that allows you to have compassion for others and see things from their point of view. You can be highly empathic and learn to NOT take on the other people’s stress by using the techniques in the book.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King because they fought for freedom, and racial equality with all their heart and spirit. They were not afraid to fight for goodness and empathy.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

The poet Mary Oliver is a great inspiration to me. I especially love her poem The Journey, which tells us in such beautiful language about how the only person we can really save is ourselves. Also Rumi, the 13th Century Sufi poet of love, is a constant inspiration to shine love and spirituality brightly.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

As a physician, I want to empower people to develop their empathy and create a more empathic approach within their local community as well as globally. Instead of dividing people into “us versus them,” I want others to aim towards mutual understanding, even in the face of differences.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

Don’t censor yourself or try to impress others. Trust your intuition on your path and don’t follow a path just to please others.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I want to start the The Empath Revolution — a wave of millions of people opening their hearts and showing empathy for others.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started,” and why?

  1. Be yourself. You don’t have to put on a persona for the world. Embrace your own power.
  2. Trust your intuition. Listen to what your gut tells you.
  3. Express empathy. You can be powerful and empathic at the same time.
  4. Love is all there is. Love is the motivating force in my personal life and career.
  5. Meditation practice can energize and center you in this crazy busy world. You don’t have to take on other people’s stress to be successful.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I’d love to create a television show on empaths based on my book and I love Showtime. So I’d love to sit down with Michael Elias head of production there to brainstorm.

How can our readers follow you on social media?


Dr. Orloff’s Empath Support Community on Facebook:

If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series in Huffpost, Authority Magazine, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.