Thursday, 27 September 2012

What is the difference between a counsellor and a therapist?

Ordinary people are confused by the terms counsellor and psychotherapist and for good reason: there is no sensible difference between what they are attempting to do, which is help people with emotional disorders. (That is why we tend to use the terms interchangeably on our mental health websites.)

No matter what they call themselves, psychotherapists and counsellors can only be assessed on their ability to deal with the common disorders that present themselves. These are usually one or more of the following: depression, anxiety, behavioural problems, psychological trauma (including PTSD symptoms), obsessional behaviour (OCD), addiction and relationship difficulties.

We have prepared an effective counselling checklist to make it easier to find a therapist with the skills to best help those suffering from mental illness. It's worth a read if you're looking for a therapist to help you regain your emotional wellbeing. Ask a potential therapist questions about items on the list in your initial conversations, or check their website to see how they approach problem like trauma, depression or anxiety.

A good therapist will set clear goals with you and have effective tools to make sure you feel more positive and confident quickly and you should leave each session feeling better than you did when you went in. If that doesn't happen, change your therapist.

The three causes of mental and emotional distress 

An effective counsellor or psychotherapist will understand the innate needs of human beings (the human givens). That is because it is only those who are not getting their innate needs met that have mental health problems.

There are three conditions that prevent people from getting their needs met:

 1. The person is living or working in a ‘sick’ environment that prevents them from doing so. Perhaps they are living in an aggressive or abusive home atmosphere or in an aggressive neighbourhood, or are suffering from bullying or humiliation at school or in the workplace. Or maybe they are not being sufficiently stretched at school or by the work they are doing.

2. The person doesn’t know how to operate their internal guidance system so as to get their needs met. They may not have been properly socialised when young or they may have been conditioned by their parents or school to have low expectations of themselves and so have developed learned helplessness, negativity and blindness to opportunities life presents them with, or they may have been conditioned into having unrealistically high expectations.

 3. The innate guidance system is damaged: perhaps through faulty transmission of genetic knowledge (as in autism spectrum disorders – caetextia), poor diet, poisoning, accident causing brain damage, sub- threshold trauma, molar memories or deep psychological trauma (post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD).

How to find an effective psychotherapist or counsellor 

Check them out. Ask for testimonials. Do not just rely on academic qualifications since these do not automatically mean a person has ‘nous’ and people skills.

Effective practitioners know how to build rapport and relax you by reflective (active) listening. They will be proactive and set clear goals for the therapy early on because they understand that the brain cannot work with abstractions. They are also skilled at harnessing your imagination to help you solve problems and rehearse new behaviours. (They usually do this by using guided imagery.) They will also have skills such as the rewind technique that they can use to detraumatise sufferers of phobic responses, PTSD symptoms and memories of abuse. They will keep the number of sessions to the minimum you need.

One of the most important things to look for in a practitioner is that you feel comfortable with them. The rapport between you and your therapist is an effective element to a good outcome in itself; so don't feel bad about shopping around. Find a therapist who doesn't make you feel uncomfortable. Often this can be done by a short free phone session before committing to any sessions, and a good therapist will not be offended if you do decide to move on because they will understand the importance of rapport.

It surprises many people to learn that feeling excessive amounts of emotional pain is not a pre-requisite for positive emotional change, and neither is committing to years of expensive ‘analytical’ sessions negative rumination about your past is encouraged. A skilled therapist usually takes only a few sessions to bring about a deep and positive lasting change so that you can move forward.

The plague of experts who aren’t 

The reason it is difficult for ordinary people to work out exactly what a mental health professional does by what they call themselves is that in the modern world there is no straightforward way of assessing expertise. In the past, when people lived in smaller communities, it was easy to see who was skilled at the various crafts. If you were a good cook, everyone could tell and enjoy the results. If you were a good builder it soon became obvious and people would seek your help and advice, you were an expert.

In ancient times the whole tribe would know who were the best hunters, tool-makers, fishhook-makers, childminders, and so on. People would know who was best at sorting out certain types of medical problems with herbs, who was good at setting broken bones and who had the most wisdom and authority to sort out relationship difficulties and conflicts. Thus genuine expertise was widely valued within the community.

Our vulnerability in the complex crowded society we live in is that we can’t rely upon our own observation of human capabilities to assess expertise. Today status is mostly awarded, or claimed for, without our being given observable proof of whether a person really has expertise and skill before we employ them.

We try and overcome this by devising various systems that are, in effect, ways of dispensing ‘badges of status’ to indicate who is or is not an expert. We allocate status through academic qualifications such as degrees, diplomas and doctorships, or through membership of trade associations such as, in the case of counsellors and psychotherapists, the BACP. Experiential knowledge about who has expertise has been replaced with the letters following a person’s name or the jargon they use.

Because we have become an appearance culture, instead of a knowledge culture, the badge of accreditation is now more important to people than the knowledge or skill that the badge was originally intended to denote. We are faced with the fact that just because somebody has qualifications it does not mean they are a competent. This causes great problems.

Remember the common-sense rule: it is always what people do that counts, not what they say they can do.

A list of registered Human Givens Therapists and how we can help.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Music in Hospitals

Music in Hospitals is a charity which organises around 5000 free concerts a year for adults and children in hospitals throughout Britain. They were established in 1948 but as I've only recently heard of them, I wanted to share their work in a quick post.

"MiH concerts bring a sustained improvement to the quality of life of adults and children affected by all kinds of illness, life limiting conditions, mental health problems, physical and learning disabilities whilst creating a shared experience that can be enjoyed by the wider community of healthcare staff, volunteers, and relatives. Our musicians’ sensitive approach helps to eliminate feelings of stigma and discrimination often experienced in healthcare by breaking down social and cultural barriers and the routine of long term care. The musicians do not provide miracle cures but magical moments of warmth and joy as they help to bring the person out of the patient."

The work of the Music in Hospitals charity is encapsulated by this moving and inspiring video. It is a reminder than even the simplest of things can profoundly lift the spirits of those experiencing suffering.

Please take a moment to watch:

Music in Hospitals is on Twitter.

Here is the Music in Hospitals website.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

HG Library: High Emotion and the Middle East by John Bell

Former UN and Canadian diplomat John Bell suggests that the human givens approach could prove invaluable for conflicted cultures steeped in emotion. This article was published in Vol 18 No 2 (2011) of the Human Givens Journal.

The Middle East continues to be one of the most troubled regions in the world. What was once the cradle of our civilisation seems embroiled in eternal struggle, conflict, and, now, revolution.

For those who travel frequently to the region, the many problems – ranging from the political to the environmental – are self-evident. But, just as importantly, few come away without a powerful sense of the drama and the passion of the Middle East and without having experienced a seductive aspect of its human story. From the bartering in the spice souk of Aleppo to the tension at an Israeli checkpoint near Ramallah, nothing is sterile and coldly functional in this region; all is filled with excitement and emotion.

Bird merchants in Cairo’s Souq al-Gomaa, or ‘Friday Market’, in Egypt
For those who live there – Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Israelis, and others – this is a permanent condition of daily life. From the high-pitched Friday sermon at the mosque to raucous family discussions to arguments at a taxi stand in Jerusalem, people live in a sea of heightened emotion. Human activity there carries an extra dose of excitement. Indeed, the people of the Middle East are not only used to it, they seem addicted to it, thrive on it, and accept it as a kind of norm; they shrink like prunes in the less dramatic contexts of the West.

It is in this heightened sea of emotion that we must first situate the larger problems of the Middle East. The region has more than its share of challenges, from severe water shortages to the well-known conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But these problems are being dealt with within a daily existence of excitement and an addiction to passion. This is not to suggest that a ‘passion-less’ life is more desirable – Western tendencies towards emotional alienation and limited social interaction are also damaging. However, the exaggerated emotional state that prevails in the region means that the mind is heavily preoccupied and fixated, and can neither shift gear to create the badly needed creative answers for urgent problems nor accept them easily if found.

This profound attachment to high emotion is generated at almost all levels of Middle Eastern society, from the family, to the public space, to the news and music on Arab satellite television, to, of course, the actual conflict between tribes and nations. Emotion may be so highly valued and regularly engendered in the region because the basic units of human bonding there – the family, the tribe, the sect, the nation – still rely on the ‘blood-link’ to ensure survival, bringing with it the emotional states of such relations: “We will all band together against the enemy; only in this way can we overcome”. This basic means of survival, essential millennia ago to stand against the marauder and the conqueror, has lasted into the 21st century and is today over-utilised, possibly even archaic.

The human givens approach to psychotherapy is a paradigm for understanding and managing our emotions. By identifying our innate needs and resources, it creates a clear reference point and a means of ‘auditing’ individual lives and the health of societies. For over a decade now, human givens therapists have been improving mental health for individuals; my purpose here is to examine how this paradigm may be of use in understanding, explaining and even resolving the conflict in the Middle East and assisting positive development. I will look at two major challenges in more detail: the unresolved Israeli–Palestinian conflict, now almost a century old; and the Arab revolutions of 2011, as possible springboards for the future development of the Middle East.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict

A key Hamas official has said: “In principle we have no problem with a Palestinian state en- compassing all of our lands within the 1967 borders. But let Israel apologise for our tragedy in 1948, and then we can talk about negotiating over our right of return to historic Palestine.”1

A senior Israeli official was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “... if [Palestinian leader and co-founder of Fatah] Mr Abbas accepted – even privately when the two leaders meet alone – an end to the conflict with Israel and its Jewish identity, the whole conventional wisdom can change very quickly.”2

Since the creation of the State of Israel in British Mandate Palestine in 1948, hundreds of diplomatic initiatives have failed to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Instead, for over six decades, we have witnessed a tragic rollercoaster in the name of this contested land: periods of ‘ceasefire’ followed by bursts of fighting ranging from local struggles (intifadahs) to regional wars.

Attempts to resolve the conflict may have suffered from a ‘missing piece’,3 an essential element without which it may be impossible to reach agreement, leaving the sides in a state of chronic suffering. Indeed, Israelis have become inured and regard the conflict as one only for management, not resolution. Palestinians, on the other hand, will not let go of their desire for freedom and an independent state – they view time as on their side and sumud (steadfastness) as their essential paradigm. Experience with both sides reveals a death embrace between the two; they are stuck together, un-willing to give in, ready to continue fighting until Kingdom come.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Wellbeing training: practical skills for treating depression

Human Givens College offers a range of training courses that are essential to anyone whose job involves working to increase psychological wellbeing in patients, clients, colleagues and service users.

If you are looking for practical, skills-based training to help you treat depression, anxiety, addiction, psychosis, PTSD or trauma, please browse our 2012/2013 prospectus (opens PDF) for upcoming mental health training in 2012/2013.

Depression Training

Depression is on the rise and we offer two depression courses, both counting towards the Human Givens Diploma:

Understanding the cycle of depression - essential information -Joe Griffin’s iconoclastic training day shatters the many myths about depression and how best to treat it. Despite enormous efforts to improve the nation's mental health, the number of people suffering from depression is still rising (and increasingly so among children, young people and the elderly). Millions are affected in some way – yet it is actually one of the most treatable disorders health professionals are asked to help with, as this inspiring training day shows. Find out why depressed people are always so tired and unmotivated and why the appropriate psychotherapy has a dramatically lower rate of relapse than antidepressants and is the most effective treatment, even with severe cases.

How to Lift Depression - A practical skills-based day - Joe Griffin’s training day caused a sensation when it was featured on BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind. Depression is now so common that all health professionals need to know how to lift it – especially as it can lead to suicide. This workshop has saved lives.
Until recently, depression was little understood, but now you can absorb the easy-to-learn psychological techniques that lift it quickly ... even in the severest cases. Antidepressants (though dangerous) can play a role in reducing symptoms, but research shows that appropriate counselling is the most effective way to lift even the most severe depression, and has a much lower rate of relapse.

For more wellbeing training course see our list of courses.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Why do I wake up tired?

We've all had that 'foggy brain' sensation after one too many bleary taps on your alarm's snooze button. That exhausted and miserable feeling when you wake up from a lie in that seemed like luxury until you surface, hours later, with a dull headache and no motivation to do anything.

At first, this feeling doesn't seem to make sense. How can you wake up more tired than when you went to bed when sleep is supposed to be refreshing? Surely more sleep should mean you are more refreshed?

Here is a fact that not many people realise:

Sleeping too much can make you feel tired!

The answer lies in REM sleep, the dream stage of sleep in which your brain is just as (if not more) active as it is when you're awake. It's actually too much REM sleep that is the cause of feeling tired upon waking.

There are two main ways by which too much REM sleep can lead to waking up feeling tired:

1) 'Over dreaming' or too much REM sleep can deprive us of the stage of sleep (slow-wave sleep) that restores and refreshes the body and brain, consequently we wake feeling physically tired. If you look at a sleep cycle graph, you can see that REM sleep appears periodically until the morning, so, if you sleep for 14 hours instead of the more usual 8, you will naturally go through additional stages of REM sleep.

2) During REM sleep the orientation response is continually being fired off. The purpose of REM sleep is to de-arouse emotional expectations from the previous day, however over pressure on the orientation response can lead to the exhausted feeling we get when we sleep too much. The orientation response is the same pathway used by the brain to focus our attention on getting things done during the day, which explains the lack of motivation and mental exhaustion we feel after an extended period of REM sleep.

Waking up tired is a symptom of depression however feeling tired upon waking does not mean you are depressed, it is purely an emotional and bodily response to too much REM sleep.

The reason depressed people sleep more (studies have shown that depressed people have more REM sleep than non depressed people) is because their overloaded brain is trying to resolve too many emotional expectations (worries) each night, leading to exhaustion when they wake up. This in turn leads to more sleep, and so the cycle of depression can continue. Fortunately it can be broken.

For more information about REM sleep, the role of dreaming and breaking the cycle of depression please explore our websites: - the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming sheds light on so many previously unexplained topics from dreaming, and hypnosis to psychosis and why we forget our dreams. - focusing on treating depression, this website covers the link between REM sleep and depression. - effective, evidence based training on understanding the cycle of depression from Human Givens College.

NEW Online training: How to break the cycle of depression

A response to Caetextia theory: how awareness of the role of context can give insight into the behaviour of loved ones

We regularly receive emails giving feedback on the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming and caetextia theory from interested readers of our various websites.

Today we'd like to share (having obtained permission) this email from someone who read our Caetextia website and gained insight into the behaviours of their loved ones:
I came across your site on Caetextia a couple of weeks ago, the examples illustrated really resonated with me. I have gone through an awkward year realising all three of my children have the Aspergers quirks. As a result I have been reading extensively on the topic, looking at myself, my origins, my husband and his relatives.

The example of a man only brushing the front of his hair struck a chord with me. My mother who is a very attractive lady would always apply make up to her face, wouldn't even be seen in the garden without make up, but would leave the back of her hair looking like a birds nest. I have been puzzled at this behaviour until now, it all makes sense.

Equally the example of the educated man 'just following the instruction' re: eating the chocolate box. My husband will more often than not leap up to one of the childrens requests without screening or checking for appropriateness, etc - he then claims "but they asked me to".

I can see now that when parenting and communicating with my husband and extended family, I have to spend extra time explaining context and giving tangible examples that they can relate to.

Interestingly, I can now rewind moments in my past where I have felt the incredible lack of empathy shown by family and apply caetextia to the situation and understand where the lack of appropriate response comes from 'root cause analysis' if you will. This has been hugely beneficial to me just having an explanation.

This is a very unscientific comment to make given Aspergers seems to be pinned on many things including modern day life: environmental factors, food, leaky gut etc. Looking around at the quirks in my family I can see a very strong genetic link. My Uncle was a nuclear physicist for starters. Here is a quote from my great-grandfathers obituary:
"He was ever frank and outspoken in his opinions without fear or favour sometimes to his own disadvantage. Those who knew him slightly found him acid in his conversation to the point of churlishness but it did not take long to see that this was the hard shelled exterior of the typical lowland Scot."

It seems in the past 'aspie' quirks were pinned on cultural identity, more accepted as an alternate personality type.

Keep up the good work.

Understanding how the brain operates in Aspergers is unlocking a key to a very complex puzzle. Caetextia has just simplified that complexity for me.
We welcome feedback. There is a contact email address from both our dreaming and caetextia websites so please do get in touch if you have any comments or questions.

Friday, 7 September 2012

HG Library: Doris Lessing Interview - Our collective cultural insanity

Doris Lessing believes we are all much closer to craziness than we like to believe. In conversations with Ivan Tyrrell she talks about age, breakdowns and sufism. This article first appeared in Volume 1, Issue 3 (1993) of the Human Givens journal. (Formerly The Therapist)

Lessing: I've been thinking a lot recently about an old woman I got to know, particularly with reference to Alzheimer's, a word we spray around fairly lightly. I knew her for six or seven years before she finally died when she was over ninety.
She was, in fact, a woman of low intelligence. She had a poor childhood and married because it was expected of her, Most of her adult life she was a waitress and adored her work. She was a completely social person — she danced and had a wonderful pub life — and this social satisfaction was what she wanted from life.
At the age of sixty-five she was given the sack from her job because she was too old. Shortly after that her husband died. She had no pension and she went to pieces. From having the restaurant, where she worked and where everybody knew and loved her and she had a lot of friends, she became an old woman alone in her room. She became a drunk. People round here told me about it, and at the time I got to know her, she was into her eighties and totally demoralised. Although by then she was no longer drinking so much, she was in a filthy condition and could hardly get out of the flat. What really interested me about this was not the side issues about social services and so on, it was that because she had never been anything else but a social person and couldn't cope with being alone, she got more and more stupid when she was on her own. Whenever you went to see her, if she had been alone for twenty-four hours, you'd think she was demented. I'm sure any doctor would say she was suffering from ‘Alzheimer's' or senility or something, but I noticed that if she had two or three people in to talk to her for a while, the craziness left her. She made sense. Sense on a pretty low level, but it was sense.
The point about her not being intelligent is relevant because, although she had always been a stupid woman, when she was normal, she made sense, was lively and quite funny. But whenever the services hadn't worked, and perhaps no one had seen her for two or three days, and I visited her, she was gone — totally senile again!
This happened again and again, I would go and see her and, when I arrived, she would ramble and waffle. She didn't know what time of day it was, what day of the week, or the year. But, by the time I left, she would be making perfect sense again. She was properly herself.
Now this seems to me terribly important. I cannot help but wonder how many old people are diagnosed as ill, or senile, when in fact they just need human contact.

Tyrrell: I'm sure that's true. I've also noticed that people who work on their own at home for long periods, for example, illustrators, behave oddly. I used to commission work from illustrators. Their work was detailed and time consuming requiring long periods of concentration. The artists often got obsessive about it and spent long, lonely hours working. And when I went to see them they would behave strangely for a while, either very extroverted — talking crazily a me for an hour or two, needing lots of attention — or be excessively introverted, taking ages to start talking and gradually becoming more themselves again. So people that work alone for days on end also get odd.

Lessing: But they weren't mentally ill?

Tyrrell: Well, not disturbingly so. But illustrators and artists have a reputation for eccentricity and obsession and I think this is why. Some cultivate this, of course, but I noticed many times that, by spending time with them, they would get okay again. What you're saying is, if people are left alone for days orweeks on end, they are bound to go crazy.

Lessing: And then they are given drugs by some busy doctor who says, ‘This person is senile', or whatever. And then they get worse even more quickly. There was a time when this old lady was told to take five different kinds of drugs each day. But no one ever asked what relation these drugs had to each other in her brain and body. She threw the drugs away when no one was looking for which I applauded her. And then she became quite reasonable again. But I wonder if people who look after the elderly are taught the concept that an old person living by themselves is not necessarily crazy but maybe just needs more contact with other people?

Tyrrell: They must be. Many people must have observed this.

Lessing: If it is taught they certainly didn't apply it to her and, if it isn't taught, then that's pretty frightening.

Tyrrell: One nurse going round has to visit so many people, And these nurses are under so much pressure, they can only spare a few minutes with each one, which is sad if that visit is the highlight of that old person's week.

Lessing: At one time this particular old woman was getting visits most days from a nurse who would come in for five minutes to make sure she took her pills. A home help was also supposed to do an hour and a half a week with her but would usually end up doing ten minutes. A social worker would sweep in and out once a week but for as short a time as possible. The person who helped most was a good neighbour — she was the best of the lot. What disturbed me was the readiness of the doctors to just drug her. I didn't see the point of that.

Tyrrell: That's how doctors are taught to treat people but many of them question this nowadays.

Lessing: It's a matter of luck what doctor you have. I once met Dr William Sargent who wrote Battle for the Mind and we were talking about drug treatments and he said, "Put yourself in my position. I'm sitting at my desk and in front of me is a totally depressed person and I know that there's a good chance that this depression will be shifted by a course of a certain drug. Now, what would you do?" Well I didn't know what to say because I should imagine one would try anything to get rid of depression. But what strikes me is that all these drugs treatments are so hit and miss. No one really seems to know what they are doing. It's all "if it works, good. If not, let's try something else..."

Tyrrell: Do you know much about depression in other cultures?

Lessing: I only know that some cultures don't have a word for it. A doctor friend of mine who trained here in the west but is working out in Bangalore, told me that there they bring in young women day after day who are totally depressed, but it was no use talking to them in the language we use here — it was no good asking, "Are you unhappy?", or "Why are you unhappy?" or, "What do you think brought this on?" because happiness is not something that they feel they are entitled to. He had to develop a whole new approach to communicate with them. There was no way he could talk directly to the patient, he had to talk through the relatives, which was difficult because they were often responsible for the depression.
Peter Brent, who wrote, among other things, Godmen of India, mentioned in one of the books that a doctor in India would often take a mentally sick patient out of their family and into his own household to join his large, extended family. The idea was that a saner setting would cure the insane person. It's the opposite of putting people in mental hospitals. Apparently it often worked.

Tyrrell: There is a lot of evidence that depression and schizophrenia are due to people cracking up under impossible stresses from their family or work situation. The abnormal behaviours of schizophrenics often seem to be strategies for dealing with apparently irreconcilable situations.

Lessing: I think that we are all much nearer being crazy than we ever want to think about. I once sent myself crazed on purpose.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Irish Men's Sheds and mental wellbeing

Discovered on twitter, I just wanted to share a positive, inspiring video from the community project, the Irish Men's Sheds association which happens to encompass everything the human givens approach stands for!

Taken from their website:

"A Men’s Shed is any community-based, non-commercial organisation which is open to all men where the primary activity is the provision of a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where the men are able to gather and/or work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of other men and where the primary objective is to advance the health and well- being of the participating men. Men’s sheds may look like a shed in your back yard yet they innovatively share some characteristics of both community education and health promotion projects."

 Quote from the video: "It helps you to relax your brain, you're not getting tensioned up, another thing it is is that you're not thinking about your problems, you're happier when you're working. Work is essential for mankind."

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

New peer reviewed research recommends Human Givens therapy be fully included in NICE guidelines

We are very excited to announce that the journal Mental Health Review has in press two peer reviewed academic papers showing the effectiveness of the human givens approach; one involving the treatment of mild to moderate depression and the other to the therapeutic value of the HG Emotional Needs Audit (ENA) tool.

Anyone who has used the human givens approach over the last decade years will know what a big difference this research could make to organisations and individuals wishing to pitch for funding for HG or further develop the approach to help their clients and service users.

 The full papers will be available after publication but in the mean time we would like to share the abstract, conclusions and recommendations of the main paper on therapy for depression:
Purpose: This paper aims to present the findings of research commissioned by a Primary Care Trust in the UK to assess the implementation of a new pilot Human Givens mental health service (HGS) within primary care.

Method: Participating General Practitioners practices were designated as either ‘Human Givens’ or ‘Control’ practices. The study focused on service users with mild to moderate depressed mood measured using HADS. The well-being of these participants was examined at the point of referral, and after four, eight and 12 months using three well being questionnaires.

Findings: The results revealed that emotional well being significantly improved during the first four months following referral for both groups and this improvement was maintained up to and including one-year post referral. Compared to the Control group Human Givens therapy was found to be of shorter duration, lasting 1-2 sessions compared to standard treatment, which lasted on average four sessions.

Originality/value: Apart from the psychological insight and emotional support, it is suggested that Human Givens therapy might help the client to better function in society and maintain their sense of social integration. This has benefits to other providers of social care.

Conclusions and recommendations
 The main recommendations of our work in this paper are threefold:

  • That the HG model be officially considered by the NHS as a bona fide model of therapy in its own right. This would greatly hasten the implementation of further studies and ease commissioning from managers acquainted with, and confused by, the variety of therapeutic models to choose from.
  • That NICE should be made aware of some of the techniques used by this approach. The most obvious candidate for this would be the imaginal exposure technique known as ‘rewind’, which has much in common with established imaginal exposure techniques used in CBT and already approved by NICE.
  • That training in the HG methodology and concepts be formally accepted as a mainstream option for CPD within the mental health community.
The conclusions for the study on ENA are as follows:

Griffin and Tyrrell's (2004) human givens book proposed that to live successful and fulfilling lives we need to have certain needs met and are born with the resources to do so. The needs and resources, they called the Human Givens. The needs are listed in the Emotional Health Audit. They further propose that if any needs are seriously unmet or if our innate resources are damaged, missing or used incorrectly we suffer distress, typically anxiety depression or anger. Human Givens therapy therefore aims to discover the areas where needs are unmet or where the patient might not be using their innate resources correctly and help a person to create ways to meet previously unmet needs. The correlation of the ENA to already validated wellbeing and depression scales would support the Human Givens proposals that quality of life and mental ill-health and well-being is proportionally related to how well we are able to meet our emotional needs and getting those needs met should be the goal of therapy. Unmet emotional needs can discovered with the ENA and further, effectiveness of treatment may be monitored by doing the ENA before and after sessions, without the need to perform other previously validated measures.
Our findings show that the Emotional Needs Audit is acceptable in the domains of internal consistency, concurrent validity, discriminant validity, predictive validity, sensitivity and specificity. This suggests that it is a valid instrument for measuring emotional wellbeing, quality of life and emotional distress.
While the ENA seems to be able to measure similar domains to the SWLS and CORE-OM effectively, we suggest that the ENA scale has additional advantages. Firstly, the CORE-OM measures symptoms and the SWLS measures overall satisfaction with life. Neither scale, however, offers insights into the causes of symptoms or causes of dissatisfaction and distress. Our observations suggest that when faced with a patient in distress, it is necessary to evaluate not only the level of distress but also the causes of distress. The ENA allows the practitioner to evaluate such causes. Indeed, it allows the practitioner to focus down on the following areas:
  • Security — safe territory and an environment, which allows us to develop fully
  • Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition
  • Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices
  • Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
  • Feeling part of a wider community
  • Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience
  • Sense of status within social groupings
  • Sense of competence and achievement
  • Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think.
We conclude that in addition to measuring symptoms and satisfaction with life, the ENA is capable of providing greater understanding of the causes of any problems, and therefore has the potential to be the more useful instrument in clinical practice. Indeed we would argue that the results from ENA might allow a practitioner to develop a level of communication that might therapeutically assist the start of treatment.
We hope you can use this independantly reviewed research to further advance the causes of improved mental health, sanity in organisations and better education across the UK and beyond.

EDIT: Here are the links to the published studies:

The emotional needs audit (ENA): A report on its reliability and validity.

Assessing the effectiveness of the “human givens” approach in treating depression: a quasi experimental study in primary care.