The Human Givens and how meeting your  innate needs will keep you mentally healthy and resilient

Author: Elly Prior | First published: 23-09-2010 | Modified: 24-10-2017

What are the ‘human givens’?

The ‘givens’ of human nature are your innate physical and emotional needs, as well as the resources nature gave you to help you meet these needs.

They are our genetic inheritance: templates ‘downloaded’ from our genes into the brain of the foetus and later the neonate. These templates form into patterns, which continue to be adapted by the circumstances and the environments we find ourselves in.

Your essential emotional needs

I've listed below our essential emotional needs, all of which we should try to meet in balance:

  • Security, which includes a stable home life and a safe environment in which to grow and fulfil our potential
  • Giving and receiving attention
  • Friendships, fun, love, and physical intimacy
  • A sense of autonomy and control over our environment
  • Being part of a wider community to create a sense of belonging and a feeling of being connected with others
  • Meaning and purpose

Meaning makes a great many things endurable - perhaps everything."


C.G Jung
  • Self-esteem, which results from having our basic needs met and...
  • ... A sense of achievement which comes from stretching ourselves to achieve meaningful goals (no matter how 'small' these might be)
  • A sense of status within social groupings

Have a look at this fascinating animated video. Career analyst Dan Pink explains clearly the workplace benefits of ensuring that people are able to meet the basic emotional needs of autonomy, mastery and purpose....

Our innate resources

We've been given all of the resources necessary to allow us to meet our most essential needs. Some of the most important needs are...

8 Of our most important inborn resources

  1. Curiosity: an innate desire to learn more
  2. Memory: the ability to develop long-term memory patterns for learning
  3. Imagination: to help us focus away from problems and towards creative solutions
  4. A dreaming brain: to metaphorically diffuse emotional arousal left over from the day
  5. The ability to understand the world and people unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching
  6. An observing self: that part of us that can look in on ourselves and is separate from intellect, emotions and conditioning
  7. The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others
  8. A conscious rational mind

Are your emotional needs being met?

Want to find out where you stand with regards to meeting your essential emotional needs?

A great way forward! You'll be able to direct all your energy into making sure that you are feeling your best. So much better than arguing with your partner about who is right and who is wrong.

Sign up for my newsletter to find out more.

What happens when things go awry?

You're at risk of becoming unwell and unhappy when your needs are not being met in balance or when you misuse your resources.  

As an example of this, you might use your imagination to constantly worry, rather than for solving problems.

What can be done about that?

A human givens therapist is trained to identify imbalances in your emotional needs. He or she will also help you learn how to make the best use of your innate resources.

I promise you this - whatever problems you're facing, improvement is possible by bringing about positive changes in either or both sets of human givens.

Essentially, this means that Human Givens Therapy is uniquely tailored to fit you personally, and to help you address and re-balance your own specific issues and needs.

The ‘human givens’ approach is an ‘organising idea’. In other words, it organises and builds on well-established theories, principles and known effective techniques in counselling.

Maybe counselling or therapy was the last thing you ever wanted. Perhaps you don’t like talking about your problems, or you think no one can help you anyway. Maybe you've tried it and it didn't work.

Is it becoming increasingly difficult to hide your distress?

Have you run out of steam and finally feel willing to consider counselling, however reluctantly?

10 Benefits of human givens therapy

Human givens therapy can help you to:

  1. Feel happier, lighter and more energetic
  2. Understand why you were depressed and how to prevent it
  3. Feel calmer
  4. Find relief from (traumatic) stress symptoms
  5. Feel better - recover from fears and phobias or heal trauma
  6. Find relief from previously ‘bottled up’ feelings
  7. Enhance your social skills if needed
  8. Meet your essential emotional needs more in balance
  9. Increase your awareness of your innate and acquired resources
  10. Increase your confidence and self esteem

Many counsellors and therapists not trained in the human givens approach will want to use the first session as an assessment.  

A human givens therapist will begin to help you feel better at the very first session. You can find a directory of practitioners via the Human Givens Institute.

Who can become a human givens therapist?

My human givens colleagues come from a wide range of professional backgrounds: GPs, social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, counsellors, medical specialists, physiotherapists, teachers, head teachers and so on.

For more information, see the Human Givens College

A different kind of therapy all together

A human givens therapist works in a very solution-focused way. 

A qualified human givens therapist will:

  • make counselling/therapy as painless as possible
  • not dwell on the past unnecessarily
  • aim to help you to feel better after every consultation
  • give information and advice if needed
  • explain how your brain works with regards to emotion
  • help you to access the same relaxed state as when you dream
  • increase your knowledge without jargon or ‘psychobabble’
  • use a variety of techniques as appropriate
  • calm high levels of emotions as soon as possible
  • encourage new understandings and solutions
  • adapt the therapy flexibly and uniquely for you
  • avoid using a ’preferred’ theory regardless of your problems
  • support you when difficult feelings emerge without dwelling on them
  • be aware of research in psychology, neurobiology and counselling
  • help you overcome your problems in as few sessions as possible
  • consider the effects of counselling on the people close to you
  • teach you to relax deeply

The importance of meaning and purpose

Take a look at this fascinating video clip of holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl on the importance of meaning...

Now, almost 40 years later, as human givens therapists, we also strongly believe in the need for meaning, and in your capacity to fulfill your potential.

Human givens therapy  
- effective, practical and research-based

There are hundreds of different counselling/psychotherapy models. The European Therapy Studies Institute (ETSI) was established to look into what makes counselling effective. The ideas that came from that research have been condensed into the human givens postgraduate diploma course.

Counsellors/therapists may be trained by respectable schools and accredited by professional bodies, however, this unfortunately is not a guarantee that their work is effective.

It's important to make sure you take the time to find the best counsellor for you. I can help you with this, so hop over to my page how to find a counsellor or psychotherapist for all the information you need to help you make an informed decision.

Evidence for the Human Givens Approach

From the Human Givens College newsletter:

This year The British Psychological Society’s leading peer-reviewed journal, Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice published a 12-month evaluation of the Human Givens approach in primary care at a general medical practice showing that more than three out of four patients were either symptom-free or reliably changed as a result of HG therapy*. This was accomplished in an average of only 3.6 sessions, significantly better than the recovery rate published for the UK government’s flagship IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) programme, which uses therapists trained in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Andrews, W., Twigg, E., Minami, T. and Johnson, G. (11 February 2011) ‘Piloting a practice research network: A 12-month evaluation of the Human Givens approach in primary care at a general medical practice. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8341.2010.02004

Can't find a Human Givens Therapist in your area?

There may not be an HG therapist even in your area, let alone your country! But maybe you're in desperate need of help. If so, please see my page on mental health counselling for further information on how you can connect to a professional, licensed therapist - online.

New! Rate this article (anonymously)...

I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)

I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote. If you think I've missed something, please do let me know in the comment section below.

Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)

Related Articles

Pro-List of Emotions and Feelings
What Happens in Relationship/Couple Counselling?

Divorce Advice and Counselling
How to Find a Counsellor

Other Helpful Links

The Human Givens Institute
The Human Givens Foundation

Do you need help?

Don't know what to do anymore? Need help?
Connect with a licensed therapist now...

Your problem is never too small or too big, too silly or too complicated to ask for help from a licensed therapist.

Connect with your therapist as often as you like in confidence (no need even to give your real name).

Get help now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the image below and fill in the three online questionnaires (it takes just a few minutes)
  2. Complete the simple signup process
  3. Choose how to pay (it's safe and secure)

Then all you need to do is to write down your troubles!

You won't believe what a breath of fresh air it is to be able to discuss your problems with your own professional. Someone who takes the time to really 'get you' and offer tailored guidance to suit you and your particular circumstances.

CLICK HERE to start now or click the image...

I want to upfront with you - I earn a commission from BetterHelp. This is how I earn an honest income, whilst giving away tonnes of free information throughout my site. You pay the same fee, regardless.

Found this page helpful?
Please, like and share as an act of kindness to help others just like you...

Comment, help or be helped

Elly Prior

Hello you! :-)

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

Do feel free to ask for help. I would be delighted to write a few lines to support you (please keep it short).

Alternatively -  there are licensed therapists waiting to help you right now. You can connect with a therapist as often as you want on any device, whenever it suits you. For further information, see my page: Online Relationship Advice.

Images courtesy of: Symphony of Love