What are the Human Givens?

The Human Givens is a practical philosophy to life. The Human Givens approach to counselling builds on this using common sense, and simple, straightforward language.

The Organising Idea:

The ‘Human Givens’ are those physical and emotional needs that nature expects us to have met in order to be at our best. In order to ‘get those needs met’ nature gives (or provides) us with a set of readily accessible resources. These resources can be added to by any new acquired experience or skill we develop. Our effectiveness or emotional health is a function of how well our needs are being met.

Human needs include:

  • security (stable home and work);
  • connection to others through friendship and joint objectives;
  • belonging to a wider community;
  • status and self-esteem (that comes through learning and the competent application of skills);
  • a sense of autonomy;
  • attention (to give and receive it)
  • meaning and purpose in life
  • privacy
  • a sense of achievement

Human resources include:

  • curiosity;
  • long-term memory and learning;
  • imagination (which enables the human to focus either to the best, or worst of our abilities, affecting our ability to objectively ‘problem solve’);
  • the ability to use metaphor and stories to learn,
  • the ability to pattern match (essential for effective learning and application of new skills – poor patterning is frequently the reason people underperform);
  • the capacity for empathy;
  • an observing self (to stand back from our emotions);
  • a dreaming brain;
  • a rational mind that can check our emotions, and make good decisions.

Consequences of not getting our needs met:

If our innate emotional needs are not being well met, for whatever reason, or our resources are being used incorrectly, we can suffer emotional distress – and so can those around us! This can be experienced as what is commonly known as stress, angst or depression and lead to other distressing outcomes such as anger and addiction.


Once we have accepted that a need is not being met, a desire then to address that deficit is needed. HG counselling and coaching is designed to help the individual re-access their forgotten or misused resources and where necessary build new resources, to get their needs met.