Human Givens

Human givens is a recognised therapy, with an accredited professional register. The approach stems from the insight that all forms of mental distress arise because, in one way or another, people's physical or emotional needs are not being met. Meeting our essential needs and using well the innate resources that can help us meet them - the 'givens' of human nature - are at the heart of the human givens (HG) approach.

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Human Givens Practitioners

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Decades of health and social research have revealed that emotional needs, such as a sense of security, intimacy, social connection, status, autonomy, achievement and meaning, are as vital as the meeting of physical needs, if we are to stay in good health and feel fulfilled in our lives. Our innate resources for helping us meet these needs include the ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others; to learn, problem solve, remember and plan; to use our imaginations productively; and to step back and take an objective look at our circumstances.

If all our needs are met in balance, making us confident about our place in the world and the people we connect with, we don't suffer from disabling conditions, such as anxiety and stress, depression, addictions, phobias or panic attacks.

So HG practitioners look for what is missing in distressed people's lives and seek ways to redress that, as well as teaching them important life-coping skills. This is very different from focusing on reducing symptoms or on exploring the depth of distress being experienced. All kinds of conditions can be alleviated, often quickly, including:

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • post-traumatic stress
  • OCD
  • depression
  • eating disorders
  • addictions
  • excessive anger
  • chronic pain
  • pathological grief
  • lack of self-belief
  • psychosis.

It is up to individual HG practitioners how long a session of therapy lasts but typically it is between one and one-and-a half hours and, very importantly, clients are expected to leave even their first session feeling more relaxed and optimistic than when they arrived. HG practitioners will explain in simple terms why anxiety, depression, addictions, etc, occur and take the forms they do, which encourages clients to recognise that they can quickly bring about personal change. They will show clients how to relax, to bring their own arousal and stress levels down and start to think more clearly again. HG practitioners will also show them how to use their imagination positively, through the use of guided visualisation, to rehearse successful outcomes instead of negative ones.

Practitioners also learn effective methods for helping clients understand and overcome phobias, panic attacks and intrusive traumatic memories quickly and painlessly. Very importantly, they will elicit a goal for each session, so that progress is measurable, and focus clients outwards on identifying and engaging in fulfilling activities (maybe involving the wellbeing of others as well as themselves) - excellent ways of getting their own needs better met.

HG practitioners work session by session, judging at the end of each, in conjunction with the client, whether another is necessary or whether goals have been sufficiently met. Outcome research undertaken on the approach shows that three out of four clients achieve significant improvement or cure, usually in between one and six sessions.

The Human Givens Institute's professional register, which qualified practitioners join, is accredited in the UK by the Professional Standards Authority, thus ensuring the meeting of the required standards for training, supervision, ongoing professional development, safe practice and competence.

The criteria for choosing a good HG practitioner are highly specific (and are even listed on the HGI website, as a guide to clients seeking effective brief therapy). In short, these are the ability to: build rapport quickly; get good quality, relevant information from clients; use plain language; give advice if needed or asked for; not dwell unduly on the past; take as few sessions as possible to help people deal with their difficulties; understand different conditions and how to resolve them as best possible; if necessary, help clients to develop social skills, so that their needs for affection, friendship, pleasure, intimacy and connection to the wider community can be better fulfilled; help clients to draw on their own resources (which are usually greater than they think); assist them to think about challenges in new and more empowering ways; draw from a range of tried-and-tested techniques; and work quickly to increase clients' self-confidence and sense of autonomy (avoiding dependence), making sure they feel better after every consultation.

We currently don't have any human givens therapists listed, but please check back again soon.

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