Human Givens – fast acting counselling with a difference…

by Emma Penfold / 15 April 2021 / No Comments
Article by Phoebe Weiland,  accredited Psychotherapist. 

Human Givens psychotherapy or counselling is a brief, solution-focused approach, which rather than concentrating on what went wrong in the past, helps people feel better as quickly as possible.

At its heart is the understanding that human beings are born with (given) a set of essential emotional needs, along with a set of mental resources to meet those needs. If our needs are being met and our resources are used correctly we will naturally feel balanced and well.

The emotional needs that help us feel well include the need to feel a sense of control, security, connection to others, attention, achievement, status and meaning. Our built in resources include our ability to learn from experience, plan, judge, imagine, relate one thing to another, empathise, develop a moral sense and remember.

It is when our emotional needs are not being adequately met, or are being met in unhealthy ways, or when our resources are damaged, or are unintentionally misused, that we can become anxious, angry, depressed, addicted or even psychotic. A common feature of all these states, is the misuse of our imagination to conjure up worst possible or threatening scenarios.

Another is the use of misplaced or damaging beliefs or strategies to try to solve a problem.

For instance, someone who has been bereaved may seek to mask their sadness through drinking, and then try to mask the drinking by withdrawing from their usual activities and friendships, resulting in depression. While the symptoms of depression are important red flags, it is the learning of positive coping skills and making specific life changes that will shift the depression.

Thus, helping people to change unhelpful thinking styles will be just one part of a holistic and fluid process that in each session also involves, giving psycho-education (eg. explaining anxiety and depression in a way that normalises it); helping clients take a different perspective on their situation; problem solving (helping clients recognise times when they are not experiencing problems and what is different about those times); teaching clients new skills (such as social, communication or assertiveness skills); and mentally rehearsing making desired changes successfully (through guided imagery).

A five year review showed that Human Givens therapy helped three out of four clients achieve significant improvement or cure, usually in between one and six sessions.

Phoebe Weiland is accredited with the UK Council of Psychotherapy and offers Human Givens the Clinic. For more information visit