Human Givens Therapy

Human Givens therapy is based on the premise that humans have a set of innate needs (or ‘givens’), which determine our sense of wellbeing. It is believed that these needs have been refined over thousands of years and that we have in-built resources to help fill these needs.

However, when one or more of these resources fail us, or one or more of our needs is not fulfilled, then we start to suffer psychologically. Practitioners of this approach help to establish which of these needs aren’t being met and strategize with you, ways to fulfil these needs.

There are two sets of givens; physical and emotional, and both sets of needs can affect one another. Our physical needs are relatively simple; air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, sufficient sleep, and shelter. These are all essential for survival.

Our emotional needs are more complicated and have adapted as we have evolved. As outlined within human givens therapy, our emotional needs are as follows:

  • Security: safe territory and an environment in which we can develop fully
  • Attention: a need to both give and receive attention
  • Autonomy and control: Being able to make choices and have a sense of responsibility
  • Emotional intimacy: Knowing that at least one person accepts you entirely
  • Community: Knowing that you are part of something bigger
  • Privacy: Having the opportunity to reflect and consolidate experiences
  • Status within social groupings: Knowing that you are valued within a social setting
  • Competence and achievement: Knowing that you are skilled and successful at something
  • Meaning and purpose: A feeling that comes from being stretched in what we do and what we think.

The human givens approach is focused on the present and looks at practical solutions to emotional distress. This approach can help to reduce emotional distress and improve coping skills generally but is also thought to be helpful for a range of different issues including anxiety, depression, anger management, addiction, and relationship difficulties.

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