Frequently Asked Questions


Here are some commonly asked Questions & Answers. If you have more, please give us a call.

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How Does human givens differ from other therapy approaches?

What makes the human givens approach different from other therapy approaches is that its therapists look to see what is missing, or being misused, in clients’ lives, with the aim of helping them find ways to better meet their needs.

The approach – which was developed 20 years ago – derives from the understanding that, when essential emotional needs are met and our innate mental resources are used correctly, a human being will be emotionally and mentally healthy. Essential psychological needs identified over decades of work by health and social psychologists include needs for autonomy, sense of control, security, connection, attention, achievement, status and meaning. Innate resources, much studied by neuroscientists, include our abilities to learn from experience, plan, judge, imagine, relate one thing to another, empathise, develop a moral sense, remember, etc.

It is when emotional needs are not adequately met, or are met in unhealthy ways, or when innate resources are damaged for any reason, or are unintentionally misused, that undesirable mental states such as anxiety, anger, depression, addiction and psychosis develop. For instance, misuse of the imagination – to conjure up worst possible or threatening scenarios – is a common feature of all these states.

For instance, someone who is bereaved may seek to mask their sadness through drinking, and then try to mask the drinking by withdrawing from activities and friendships, resulting in depression; similarly, someone who is laid off work with a back injury may, wrongly, become frightened to take any exercise and, as a result, not only lose companionship at work but cease to take part in previously enjoyed physical activities, resulting in increased physical disability, isolation and depression. While the symptoms of depression in such scenarios are important as guides, it is the learning of coping skills and making specific life changes that will shift the depression.

To achieve this end – and to help with any other presenting problem – human givens therapists draw from the essence of a variety of tried and tested therapeutic methods (such as cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, solution focused approaches, motivational interviewing, reflective listening and hypnotherapy) as well as the latest neuroscientific findings and new insights derived from the HG approach which increase our knowledge of what it means to be human and our understanding of what people need to maintain emotional wellbeing.

Thus, assistance in changing unhelpful thinking styles (cognitive) will be just one part of a holistic process that involves, usually all in one session, giving psychoeducation (explaining the experience of anxiety and depression in a way that normalises it and takes the fear out of it – this includes an understanding of the role of dreaming in depression); helping clients take a different perspective on their situation (through the use of reframing, metaphor and storytelling); problem solving (helping clients recognise times when they are not experiencing problems, what is different about those times, and how they can build on that); teaching whatever skills are required (for instance social skills, communication skills, assertiveness skills); and rehearsing making desired changes successfully (through guided imagery).

It is a practical, forward-focused approach, which concentrates on mastery of skills and understandings that people can use in the future to move on in their lives, rather than concentrating on, and being stuck in, what went wrong in the past. This is the case even if people have suffered horrific traumatising events – all human givens therapists are taught a reliable, evidence-based method for detraumatising people, which in most cases works in one session.

Thus – instead of being reliant on one ‘model’ of therapy – the human givens approach is fluid and flexible, making use of whatever techniques and approaches will best suit the particular client being worked with, and all within the guiding framework of helping clients meet missing emotional needs and use innate mental resources in the healthiest ways possible.

(republished with kind permission of

where does the name Human Givens come from?

Essentially it describes the basis of the approach. We focus on what is a ‘given’ about humans, that is, they have innate needs (physical and emotional) and innate resources that help them meet those needs.

How long does it take?

The Human Givens approach is a brief solution focused approach which aims to help in as few sessions as possible, research has shown that for the majority three or four sessions will be sufficient. Obviously we are all unique so the number of sessions varies from person to person but your therapist should be able to give you an idea after the first session.

How much does it cost?

Therapists fees range between €100 to €150 per session and each session lasts approximately 75 to 90 minutes. Individual therapists often offer a sliding scale in the case of financial difficulties.

What are the emotional needs?

Physiologists agree that due to the fact that humans are social beings we have developed emotional or social needs such as: the need for security, attention, volition, friendship and intimacy, community, status, privacy, competence and meaning and purpose.

Do all the therapists work from this approach?

Yes, all the therapists in the Dublin Human Givens centre work from the Human Givens approach and are all members of the Human Givens Institute.