The Human Givens (HG) approach began developing over 20 years ago when Psychologist Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell began to research studies the main models of therapy in use back then to see what was proven to be effective and what had been shown not to be. By taking those techniques that worked, modifying some of them based on current neuroscience research, adding new understandings and bringing them under one unifying organizing idea, Human Givens became an evolutionary advancement in mental health therapy.
The Human Givens Institute (HGI) is the professional body for Human Givens Therapists and it holds the official worldwide register of accredited HG therapists. The Institute is accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), the highest accrediting body in the UK for health and social care professionals. Human Givens skills adhere to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines in the UK. These two are more than the equivalent to evidenced based practice in the US. In the US, there is no guarantee of affinity to the qualifying model, whereas in the UK, accreditation by the PSA requires adherence to the therapy model and to the HGI’s professional code of ethics and conduct, as well as adherence to educational, financial and governance standards etc. on an ongoing basis.
Some of the techniques used in this brief, solution focused therapeutic approach are:
- Adherence to the RIGAARTM model
- Psycho-education (for example, explaining to depressed clients why they always wake up tired)
- Relaxation skills (people can’t think and learn in a state of high emotional arousal)
- Reframing, which is how we enrich the patterns by which we engage with reality.
- Dissociative exposure
- The use of stories and metaphor – because the brain is a metaphorical pattern matching organ.
- Concrete goal setting [positive, achievable, needs related]
- Rehearsal using guided imagery and visualization
- Feedback informed treatment [measure progress as you go through treatment which informs treatment]
Human gives has a strength based/wellness approach, rather than a pathology base. Its basic premise is that therapists and teachers need to have a deep understanding of innate psychological and physical needs that seek fulfilment in the environment. These needs evolved for our survival and when they are met in a healthy balanced way, we experience wellness. Other workers in the field, such as Adler, Maslow, Glasser, Deci and Ryan have pointed some of these innate needs before.
Barriers to meeting these needs come under one of three headings:
- The environment around the person is sick e.g., a toxic work or home life, bullying etc
- Missing or under-developed coping skills. Poor upbringing.
- The individual’s internal guidance system is damaged. Things can go wrong in the transmission of genetic knowledge and children, unfortunately, can be born damaged (for example, on the autistic spectrum). But direct physical assaults on the brain due to attack, accident or poisoning by drug or alcohol use later in life, can also damage it. However, these represent a comparatively small number of cases. Overwhelmingly, the most frequent damage to human guidance systems arises from three sources: insufficient intake of nourishing food to build and continually maintain the actual physical apparatus itself; psychological damage due to trauma; and unhelpful conditioning.
Some new understandings:
- The importance of REM sleep for processing psychological stress and issues from the previous day. This has serious implications for depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
- That all behavior is an attempt to meet needs.
- That emotions come before thought in determining behavior.
- We learn through “pattern matching” with previous experiences.
- The ABC model asserts that beliefs and thoughts come between activating agent and consequence, but with Human Givens it becomes APETTM [Activating agent – pattern match – emotion/expectation – thoughts]
- By neutralizing existing negative pattern matches and replacing them with positive pattern matches, phobias, anxiety and PTSD can be relieved in a few sessions.
The benefits of the Human Givens approach to treating psychological trauma are:
- Imaginal exposure allows for processing of multiple traumas in same session
- Imaginal exposure results in less discomfort for client and clinician and less risk of re-traumatization and compassion fatigue.
- Fewer sessions required, often one to four for many clients.
- With fewer sessions:
- Clients more likely to stay in treatment
- Clients experience less discomfort
- Client less likely to be re-traumatized
- Vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue and burnout all but eliminated
- Transference and counter-transference become non-issues
- Cost savings
- Important marketing factor for the clinician
- Clients leave sessions feeling more positive and hopeful
Much research [Practice Based Evidence of high quality] has been done on Human Givens. One example of this is “PTSD Resolution”, which is a nonprofit in England and uses the Human Givens approach with combat veterans suffering from PTSD and provides free treatment as long as they complete pre/post assessments. They have worked with over 150 clients utilizing 51 Human Givens therapists. For those who complete treatment, more than 80% experience symptom reduction to a sub-clinical level in terms of the Impact of Events Score – Extended (IES-E) with an average of just three to four one-hour therapy sessions. For more research studies, see “A Review: Is Human Givens Rewind a form of trauma-focused imaginal exposure?” by Shona Adams.
To read about other research studies, click here.