The set of principles incorporated in the human givens approach grew out of the work of a group of psychologists and psychotherapists who were trying to bring greater clarity to the way people who become depressed, anxious, traumatized or addicted are helped, as well as making such help more reliably and consistently effective.
In 1992, they formed the European Therapy Studies Institute (ETSI), with the aim of discovering why some psychotherapy approaches appeared to work and others did not. ETSI quickly gained several hundred members from a wide variety of professions whose support enabled them to publish a journal, The Therapist. Three leading figures from the start were Joe Griffin, Ivan Tyrrell and Pat Williams.
Attacking the efficacy question from a scientific viewpoint, they discarded any approach that was dogmatic or hypothetical, or that research showed was not helpful, whatever its practitioners believed. They also incorporated what they could glean from the therapeutic wisdom of other cultures and times. Then they took what was left, stepped back and set about understanding how it matched up to the emerging findings of neuroscience, always asking “why does this work?”
The result was a new synthesis of everything that can reliably be said to help human beings function well and be happy, together with remarkable new insights into the purpose of some long-unexplained brain mechanisms. These derived from the work by Joe Griffin on why we dream.
In 1996, Ivan Tyrrell founded the peripatetic MindFields College in order to teach people all round the UK and Ireland about the practical application of this rapidly developing psychological knowledge and the most effective therapeutic techniques for treating a wide range of emotional distress and behavioral problems. (Well over 175,000 people attended MindFields courses during its years of operation.)
By 1997 the term ‘human givens’ was being used so often it stuck and the first monograph on the subject was published. Soon after that, the journal changed its name to Human Givens [HG] to reflect its wider appeal. In 2000, as a result of an increasing demand, the Human Givens Diploma Course was developed. The approach continued to grow organically and was refined as new insights and research findings came to light, especially as feedback was gleaned from the wide range of psychologists, teachers, counselors, psychotherapists, nurses, social workers and others who completed the diploma.
In fact, one of the fundamental principles of this approach has always been that we should never stop learning; new knowledge, insights and skills (when they are backed up with genuine scientific understanding) should be incorporated into the fundamental framework of the human givens whenever possible to increase its effectiveness.
In 2001, the Human Givens Institute (HGI) was set up to act as the professional body of human givens therapists and as a means for people using the approach to keep in touch with one another and share ideas. Through its website, it also aims to provide a useful resource for members of the general public looking for good quality information about the causes of many forms of emotional distress and behavioral problems, as well as advice about what to look for when searching for an effective therapist/counsellor. The website also provides many free articles about how the HG approach is being used and the online directory of human givens therapists currently in private practice.
In 2003 the first edition of Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking – the seminal work about the approach – was published in hardback to great acclaim. Demand was so great it was republished almost immediately and then came out in paperback. (Read the reviews by clicking here and then on the ‘Reviews’ button.)
Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad, was first published in 2004 (with a paperback version in 2006). (Read some of the reviews by clicking here and then on the ‘Reviews’ button.)
A series of self-help books, Essential help in troubled times – the human givens approach, was launched to introduce new knowledge (about getting out of depression, curing addictions, liberating yourself from pain, releasing yourself from anger and mastering anxiety) to the general public. These have proved extremely popular (How to lift depression fast, for instance, has sold over 30,000 copies). Highly practical and written without jargon, they are suitable for individuals and anyone who wants to help others; the first titles quickly became best sellers and more are in preparation. (A range of helpful CDs have also been published to help both professionals and the general public alike.)
In 2004, a registered charity, the Human Givens Foundation, was established to promote research and public education into the ‘givens’ of human nature and their application into the treatment and care of those suffering from mental illness. In 2007, An Idea in Practice: Using the human givens approach was published to celebrate the ten years since the human givens’ organizing idea had first been published. It contained a wealth of articles and case histories about how the approach had been used by a wide range of professionals to improve, often dramatically, outcomes. In 2008, the book was short-listed for Mind’s Book of the Year Award. The Human Givens College was set up in July 2010 to continue much of the highly respected educational work that MindFields College had been doing so successfully for many years.
Human Givens first came to the US when Sue Saunders presented at the 2015 Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Several months later in 2016, Sue presented a three-day Human Givens skills training for therapists. Both of these events were so popular and appreciated, that thinking began on establishing a Human Givens center in North Carolina as a launch pad for Human Givens in the US. Maggie Minsk and John Shuford stepped forward to shepherd this process. In late 2016, the Human Givens College in the UK received approval to provide six online clinical courses for Licensed Professional Counselors in North Carolina. In the fall of 2017, the North Carolina Human Givens Center will provide the complete level one training [first of three levels] towards receiving the Human Givens Diploma as a fully qualified HG Therapist.