How human givens differs from other therapy approaches

How human givens differs from other therapy approaches

People often ask how the human givens (HG) approach differs from other therapeutic approaches. Indeed, we were asked by the Professional Standards Authority when the HGI register was being assessed for accreditation. This is what we told them.

The human givens approach – which was developed 20 years ago – derives from the understanding that, when essential emotional needs are met and our innate mental resources are used correctly, a human being will be emotionally and mentally healthy. Essential needs identified over decades of work by health and social psychologists include needs for autonomy, sense of control, security, connection, attention, achievement, status and meaning. Innate resources, much studied by neuroscientists, include our abilities to learn from experience, plan, judge, imagine, relate one thing to another, empathise, develop a moral sense, remember, etc.

It is when emotional needs are not adequately met, or are met in unhealthy ways, or when innate resources are damaged for any reason, or are unintentionally misused, that undesirable mental states such as anxietyangerdepressionaddiction and psychosisdevelop. For instance, misuse of the imagination – to conjure up worst possible or threatening scenarios – is a common feature of all these states.

What makes the human givens approach different from other therapy approaches is that its therapists look to see what is missing, or being misused, in clients’ lives, with the aim of helping them find ways to better meet their needs.

For instance, someone who is bereaved may seek to mask their sadness through drinking, and then try to mask the drinking by withdrawing from activities and friendships, resulting in depression; similarly, someone who is laid off work with a back injury may, wrongly, become frightened to take any exercise and, as a result, not only lose companionship at work but cease to take part in previously enjoyed physical activities, resulting in increased physical disability, isolation and depression. While the symptoms of depression in such scenarios are important as guides, it is the learning of coping skills and making specific life changes that will shift the depression.

To achieve this end – and to help with any other presenting problem – human givens therapists draw from the essence of a variety of tried and tested therapeutic methods (such as cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, solution focused approaches, motivational interviewing, reflective listening and hypnotherapy) as well as the latest neuroscientific findings and new insights derived from the HG approach which increase our knowledge of what it means to be human and our understanding of what people need to maintain emotional wellbeing.

Thus, assistance in changing unhelpful thinking styles (cognitive) will be just one part of a holistic process that involves, usually all in one session, giving psychoeducation (explaining the experience of anxiety and depression in a way that normalises it and takes the fear out of it – this includes an understanding of the role of dreaming in depression); helping clients take a different perspective on their situation (through the use of reframing, metaphor and storytelling); problem solving (helping clients recognise times when they are not experiencing problems, what is different about those times, and how they can build on that); teaching whatever skills are required (for instance social skills, communication skills, assertiveness skills); and rehearsing making desired changes successfully (through guided imagery).

It is a practical, forward-focused approach, which concentrates on mastery of skills and understandings that people can use in the future to move on in their lives, rather than concentrating on, and being stuck in, what went wrong in the past. This is the case even if people have suffered horrific traumatising events – all human givens therapists are taught a reliable, evidence-based method for detraumatising people, which in most cases works in one session.

Views: 11

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Mental Health in Higher Education Hub to add comments!

Join Mental Health in Higher Education Hub

Blog Posts

Academic Ableism: Disability and higher education - new book

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 24, 2017 at 20:00 0 Comments

Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center.  For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of…
Continue

Drayton Park women's crisis house - interview with Shirley McNicholas

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 24, 2017 at 16:21 0 Comments

Drayton Park women’s crisis house in North London offers an alternative to hospital admission for women experiencing mental health crises. It was Shirley McNicholas’ vision that brought it into existence and she has been leading the service since it opened.  As it approaches its twentieth anniversary in December, she talks to Anne Cooke.…

Continue

Qualitative conversations - Alec Grant

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 23, 2017 at 17:20 0 Comments

In this episode Alec talks about collaborative autoethnography, hyphen identities and the importance of telling stories that challenge the dominant narrative about mental illness. He shares some ideas about why different writing strategies are important, how to become a better storyteller and the need to write from different perspectives.

View the film

Oppressed majority - film

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 23, 2017 at 9:57 0 Comments

This film may be useful for triggering discussion about how sexism affects mental wellbeing. 

On what seems to be just another ordinary day, a man is exposed to sexism and sexual violence in a society ruled by women... (10 minutes)

View the film

Enhancing student wellbeing: a handbook for academic educators

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 22, 2017 at 19:51 0 Comments

This handbook offers research-based guidance for academic teachers and leaders – as the drivers of innovation in university teaching and learning – to understand how and why particular curriculum choices or pedagogical approaches might support or undermine the psychological needs and academic outcomes of university students. By providing easily adaptable and transferable ideas for designing curriculum and assessment, and by fostering teaching and learning practices that support student…

Continue

Croatia: out of institutions, into the world

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 19, 2017 at 20:00 0 Comments

More than 8,200 people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities in Croatia remain in segregated institutions and psychiatric hospitals with little control over decisions that affect their lives, Human Rights Watch said. While the Croatian government has made some progress in protecting the rights of people with disabilities, the process of moving people out of institutions and into community-based living arrangements has been limited and slow. In a video released by Human Rights Watch,…

Continue

1000 conversations: speaking out on mental health

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 18, 2017 at 12:34 0 Comments

Stories of people with lived experience of mental health difficulties - shared on the Centre for Mental Health website. 

View the stories

Quality in Undergraduate Education: How Powerful Knowledge Disrupts Inequality

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 18, 2017 at 12:00 0 Comments

Globally, the appetite for higher education is great, but what do students and societies gain? Quality in Undergraduate Education foregrounds the importance of knowledge acquisition at university. Many argue that university education is no longer a public good due to the costs incurred by students who are then motivated by the promise of lucrative employment rather than by studying a discipline for its own sake. McLean, Abbas and Ashwin, however, reveal a…

Continue

International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 18, 2017 at 11:55 0 Comments

'The International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (IIPDW) was created to respond to a glaring need in mental health: to develop ways for helping people withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

Mental health has failed to provide support to people who want to reduce or withdraw from their psychiatric drugs. Often, people are simply told it is a bad idea, and thus are left to try to reduce or withdraw without the support they need.

Indeed, psychiatric drugs have been…

Continue

Life of the Mind Interrupted: essays on mental health and disability in higher education

Posted by Jill Anderson on November 18, 2017 at 11:43 0 Comments

The essays in this book cover topics such as disclosure of disabilities, accommodations and accessibility, how to be a good abled friend to a disabled person, the trigger warnings debate, and more. Written for a popular audience, for those with disabilities and for those who want to learn more about living a disabled life, Life of the Mind Interrupted aims to make higher education, and the rest of our society, more humane.…

Continue

© 2017   Created by Jill Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service