Emotional health and how to achieve it

All living things need nourishment from the environment to survive. We need air to breathe, water to drink, nutritious food and sufficient amounts of sleep. These are our physical needs or ‘givens’.  We also have emotional needs, which are just as important for our wellbeing.

What do we need in order to survive and thrive?

Our emotional needs

  • Security - a safe territory and environment that allows us to develop fully.
  • Autonomy - a sense of control over what happens to us, and the freedom to make our own decisions and choices.
  • Attention - giving and receiving it.
  • Emotional connection to others - friendship, love, intimacy.
  • Community - connection to the wider community, through work, hobbies, sport.
  • Status - feeling accepted and valued within the groups to which we belong.
  • Achievement and competence - a sense of our own abilities, knowledge and skills. Competence gives us confidence, and resilience to cope with life’s ups and downs.
  • Privacy - time and space to reflect on and consolidate our experiences.
  • Meaning and purpose - which comes from being stretched, mentally or physically, and having purpose in what we do. This can be through service to others, learning new skills or being connected to ideas or beliefs greater than ourselves. 

Our emotional needs overlap and interconnect - we need all of them to be met in balance to keep us well. We also have an inbuilt set of human resources we can use to help get our needs met.

Our human resources

  • Memory - the ability to develop complex, long-term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge and learn.
  • Empathy - the ability to build rapport and connect with others.
  • Emotions and instincts - help us understand what’s happening around us and respond accordingly.
  • Imagination - to focus away from our emotions and problem solve by trying out ideas in our mind.
  • A conscious, rational mind that can check out emotions, analyse and plan.
  • Pattern matching - the ability to 'know' and to understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern matching.
  • Observing self - that part of us that can step back and recognise itself as a unique centre of awareness, separate from our emotions and conditioning.
  • Dreaming - our brain's way of defusing uncompleted, unresolved or unfulfilled emotional arousals from the day before.

These inbuilt resources help us to meet our needs.

A practical way to emotional health

The human givens approach shows us what we need in order to be healthy (innate needs) and what nature had given us to get these needs met (innate resources). These are the 'human givens'.  Just as a lack of one of our physical needs can make us ill, so a missing emotional need can lead to mental and physical ill health. When all of our needs are met in balance, we thrive and maintain good emotional health.
Human givens therapy helps people by looking at their unmet or out of balance needs and at their resources, which may be missing or not being used correctly. It is a fast and effective way to help people get back in charge of their lives once more.

Why does this approach work?

  • It is in tune with how we feel and explains why we feel the way we do.
  • It uses clear, easy to understand language.
  • It looks at everyone as a unique individual with different solutions to their difficulties.
  • It takes into account the context of the person's difficulties without delving unduly into their past history.
  • It works in tune how the brain works. When something disturbs us, the brain unconsciously pattern-matches to what that means, bringing up emotions in us. The emotion then makes us think or behave in a way that we may not even be aware of.
  • It leads us to set positive, achievable and needs-oriented goals, making problem solving easier.
  • It uses a wide range of effective psychological techniques, such as the rewind technique to unhook emotion from traumatic memories, and guided imagery to help relax clients so, for example, they can mentally rehearse their goals in their imagination.
  • Sessions have an efficient structure, which help people understand quickly what they can do to make things better for themselves.
  • It gives people the opportunity to own their own recovery and be in charge of their own life choices, building resilience for the future.

If you think human givens therapy could help you, please contact a therapist who is trained in this approach.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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