Organising Idea

The Human Givens Organising Idea

The Human Givens are our emotional Needs, and the Resources we have to meet those needs - our guidance system.
Just as a plant has essential needs (for water,nutritious soil and sunshine), so humans have their essential NEEDS. And if these
are not met in a balanced way from the environment, then
there will be emotional distress.

Our essential Human NEEDS:

  • Security — feeling safe in an environment which allows you to develop fully
  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  • Being emotionally connected to others - friendship, intimacy — knowing that at least one other person accepts you totally for who you are, “warts 'n' all”
  • Feeling part of a wider community by having connections beyond your family and close friends
  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  • Sense of status within social groupings
  • Sense of competence and achievement
  • Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think.

And nature has endowed us with the RESOURCES to ensure we can get these needs met:

  • Complex long term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn
  • The ability to build rapport, empathise and connect with others
  • Imagination, which enables us to focus our attention away from our emotions and so solve problems that get our needs met
  • A conscious, rational mind that can question, analyse and plan
  • The ability to 'know' — that is, understand the world intuitively through metaphorical pattern matching
  • An observing self — that part of us that can step back and be aware of itself as a unique centre of awareness
  • A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our emotional inheritance by metaphorically defusing expectations every night that were not acted out the previous day.


Mental distress is not an illness of the brain (as a damaged heart or an arthritic hip is a weakness of the body). All of us will suffer mental distress if an essential need or needs are not being met and all of us will heal if given the right kind of help
The London Human Givens Centre is the Capital’s central point of contact for
accessing fast, effective and proven psychological help.

Taught for less than fifteen years in the UK, Human Givens has been called “the missing heart of positive psychology”.