Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A Just-So Story: How 'Human Givens' got its name

Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell

We recently asked HG co-founder Ivan Tyrrell how ‘Human Givens’ got its name.

This was his reply:

"In 1995 Joe Griffin, Pat Williams, Barry Winbolt and I began teaching weekend courses to introduce psychological interventions that can make psychotherapy and counselling more effective and improve outcomes.

“Initially we called the training ‘Core Skills’ but soon realised that this wasn't attractive to most people working in psychotherapy or mental health because they didn't believe they lacked information or skills. It was frustrating because we knew we could help them enhance their effectiveness. But we had a lot to learn ourselves. For a start we had to sell our concept: we needed to call it something that people could latch on to.

“One day Joe and I met with a small group of Ericksonian hypnotherapists and NLP enthusiasts. They wanted to join us in teaching Core Skills, but from a perspective based on the only models they knew about. Joe tried to explain our ideas about a more holistic approach to wellbeing that drew on scientific findings and well-established knowledge.

 “ 'It can’t be right that there are so many different models of psychotherapy', said Joe. 'You never find hundreds of different models in other fields'. When this didn’t hit home, Joe got more emphatic. 'Look! We know that people need to feel secure, it’s a given, they need attention, that’s a given, they need to be connected to the community, another given, people need intimate relationships, they need meaning in their lives, these are all givens!' But the others round the table didn’t seem to understand what he was getting at – they wanted to stick to promoting Ericksonian hypnotherapy and NLP techniques and restrict ourselves to that market.

“We knew that no progress would be made unless a bigger organising idea was developed.

 “We left the meeting feeling despondent at how unadventurous their thinking was, fixed as it was in their belief that they already had the answers. And yet Joe’s presentation had fired me up. As we walked the pavements through grey drizzling rain, I suddenly stopped, turned to him and said, ‘Why don’t we call what we are teaching the ‘Human Givens’? No one will have heard of it, and curious people – who are the kind we are looking for – will ask us, “What does human givens mean?” and that will give us an opportunity to explain it.’

“I felt sure that deep inside most people knew they had innate emotional needs and that they were a ‘given’ and the natural starting point for therapy. Joe liked the idea and so ‘the human givens approach’ was born.
The rest, as they say, is history."

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