The Human Givens

As humans, we share the physical needs of other animals – nutritious food, water, air to breathe, warmth and shelter, adequate movement/exercise and adequate quality sleep. We also have emotional needs which are vital for our mental and emotional health.

The Human Givens model is a new approach to mental health and clear thinking, based on an understanding of our innate emotional needs and the resources we possess to help us these get our needs met.

These needs and resources make up what we call the Human Givens.

Our 9 emotional needs:

  1. Security
  2. Control and autonomy
  3. Community – we need to feel we belong to a wider group
  4. Attention – giving and receiving
  5. Emotional connection/intimacy
  6. Respect/status – being accepted and valued in our various roles
  7. Privacy – space to reflect
  8. A sense of competence and achievement
  9. Meaning and purpose

These needs must be met in balance for us to be mentally and socially healthy.

When we feel stressed it is because 1 or more of our needs is not being met well enough. Long term this situation may lead to mental health difficulties – anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, anger, etc. For example, if we don’t feel safe and secure, maybe due to threats or violence from a partner, or worries over job insecurity, then symptoms of anxiety would be likely to occur. If we don’t receive attention from other people we can feel invisible and lonely. And when we start worrying about feeling stressed, unhappy, lonely, etc. this only makes things worse as worry affects the quality of our sleep.

Our 8 innate resources

Also referred to as our innate guidance system.

  1. Rational thinking
  2. Long-term memory
  3. Imagination
  4. Empathy – to enable us to connect and build rapport with others
  5. Emotions and instincts
  6. An observing self – ability to stand back and see our situation in a wider, context
  7. Dreaming
  8. Pattern matching – knowing through instinctive and learned patterns

Human Givens therapy involves identifying which innate needs are not being met well in the person’s life and/or which of the innate resources they are using incorrectly or have not developed fully.

Reasons why a person’s emotional needs may not be met:

  • Toxic environment – unhealthy work situations, unhealthy home/family conditions, bullying at school, hostile community/neighbours
  • Psychological trauma, harmful conditioning, inadequate nutrition or excessive drug or alcohol use – all these can damage our internal guidance system (our innate resources)
  • Inadequate coping skills

HG therapists use a variety of effective, proven therapeutic techniques from cognitive, behavioural and interpersonal therapies in order to achieve agreed goals. These include solution-focussed questioning, an advanced form of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), relaxation, guided imagery (similar to hypnotherapy), metaphor and stories and an effective treatment for trauma and phobias – the Rewind Technique.

The therapy incorporates an understanding of how our brain works.

HG therapy involves minimal dwelling on the past. In fact, research has shown that prolonged focus on negative experiences in the past can make matters worse! HG therapists focus on the client’s present difficulties (which may have their origins in the past) and the changes the client wishes to make.

This bio-psycho-social model of therapy takes account of the inter-connection between our physical health, diet, exercise, sleep, emotions, thoughts and social environment – how each affects the other.

Human Givens therapy generally achieves results quickly as evidenced from therapy outcome measures.

It aims to brings lasting change that continues outside the therapy room into the real world.

The process can be quite empowering as clients learn not only to manage their symptoms but also gain an understanding of why/how the symptoms originated.

The approach is practical and straightforward – HG therapists endeavour to avoid using jargon, psychobabble or labelling.