What is Human Givens Therapy?

‘Human Givens’ is a practical, holistic and scientific approach focusing on what individuals need to live mentally healthy and fulfilling lives. It draws on the latest insights from neuroscience and psychological research and combines this knowledge with proven therapeutic techniques from a wide range of approaches to provide highly effective interventions. Its application is broad – encompassing mental and physical healthcare, wellbeing, education, social work, life coaching, the workplace, conflict-resolution and beyond.

Emotional Needs

We are all programmed with emotional needs that seek their fulfilment through the way we interact with the environment, especially in the way we connect with other people.
Emotions create distinctive psychobiological states in us and drive us to take action. This means that when our human needs are not met in the world or are out of balance, we suffer considerable distress such as anxiety, anger or depression and our expression of this distress impacts on those around us.

The Human Givens approach is based on ensuring there is a balance between the following essential emotional needs to support our mental health:

  •  Security
  •  Attention (to both give and receive it)
  •  Sense of status
  •  Sense of autonomy and control
  •  Sense of competence and achievement
  •  Feeling part of a wider community
  •  Emotional intimacy
  •  Meaning and purpose
  •  Privacy

Our emotional needs are the main focus of human givens psychology, but obviously these are bound up intimately with our physical needs. To survive in our material world we all need air to breathe, water, nutritious food and sufficient sleep, without which we would quickly die. In addition, we also need the freedom to stimulate our senses and exercise our muscles. We instinctively seek sufficient and secure shelter where we can grow and reproduce ourselves and bring up our young. It is by meeting our physical and emotional needs that we survive and develop as individuals and a species.

The Human Givens approach supports people to get their emotional needs met by helping them to utilise their innate and life resources. People whose emotional needs are met in a balanced way do not suffer mental health problems.

Innate Resources

We are all born with an innate guidance system, a set of innate resources we use to meet our emotional and physical needs – all together these resources and needs are what is known as our human givens. ⁠Our innate resources are:⁠

  • ⁠ Complex long term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn⁠
  • ⁠ A conscious, rational mind that can consider emotions, question, analyse and plan⁠
  •  Rapport; the ability to empathise and connect with others⁠
  •  Imagination, so we can focus our attention, use language and problem solve more creatively⁠
  •  Metaphorical pattern matching; giving us the ability to understand the world unconsciously ⁠
  •  An observing self; that part of us that can step back and be more objective, away from intellect, emotion and conditioning⁠
  •  Emotions and instincts⁠
  •  A dreaming brain that metaphorically acts out unfinished emotional arousal from the previous day.⁠How we use these resources to meet our emotional and physical needs has a direct impact on our mental, physical and moral health. When too many of our innate needs are not being met, or when our resources are used incorrectly, we cause distress to both ourselves and to those close to us.⁠

It is my job as a therapist to help you navigate how to utilise your resources to help you meet your needs.

Therapy is a great way to explore which needs are out of balance and for identifying ways to make the most of our innate resources to successfully to help us feel emotionally fulfilled and operating effectively within society.

Get in touch if you are interested in doing an emotional needs audit to begin understanding where you could do with targeting some extra support.⁠

Find out more from the Human Givens Institute www.hgi.org.uk