• Catherine Chadwick

Are You Meeting Your Basic Emotional Needs?

I was introduced to the Human Givens Basic Emotional Needs when doing some continuing professional development. The Human Givens Institute is a psychotherapy and training organisation. It maintains that humans come into the world with a set of needs and that if these needs are met appropriately, it is not possible to have any kind of mental illness.

Emotions drive us to take action and are intended to help us survive in the world and particularly to connect to people. There was a time in our ancestry when we would belong to a tribe and indeed our survival depended on being a part of a tribe. When our emotional needs are not met, we might suffer any number of upsets including anxiety, depression, inability to give up a substance such as alcohol or drugs or find ourselves in unsuitable relationships, to name a few.

The idea of human needs is not new. It has been explored by people such as William James, Freud, Alfred Adler and Abraham Maslow, for example.

According to the Human Givens model, our emotional needs include:

  1. A sense of security i.e. being in an environment that allows us to develop fully

  2. Attention – both giving and receiving it

  3. A sense of autonomy – feeling that you are directing your life

  4. Emotional intimacy - at least one other person accepts us for who we are

  5. Feeling part of a wider community

  6. The opportunity for privacy for reflection

  7. Sense of status within social groups

  8. Sense of competence and achievement

  9. Having a sense of meaning and purpose, which comes from being stretched in what we do and think.

As you look at this list, how well do you think your emotional needs are being met in your life? If anything is missing, how could you bring it into your life?

Depending on the reason why someone comes to see me, I may investigate with them whether their emotional needs are being met if in talking to them it seems quite clear that at least one of them isn’t. Very often when we look further into it, there will be more than one. We can then discuss how they could or would like to meet that need and use hypnotherapy to build any skills or attitudes that might facilitate that and then start to fulfil that need in reality. Attending to these basic needs brings more balance, wellbeing and sense of self-esteem.