Coaching and Human Givens

coaching and human givens

Coaching and Human Givens

Coaching and Human Givens


I’d like to talk to you about coaching and Human Givens. I have been coaching since, well, before coaching even became a thing. However, I have recently brought The Human Givens approach into my coaching. The Human Givens is a school of psychotherapy. I’m on their diploma programme, and hope to be adding psychotherapy to my repertoire soon.  I’ve always been a fan of using your strengths, and The Human Givens approach works very well with this.

One of their founding concepts is that every human being comes into the world with needs. These have to be met for it to survive and thrive. Some are obvious – like shelter, food and water. Once these are fulfilled, the needs become more sophisticated. It is when these needs are not met, that mental health can start to suffer.  Like nutrition, without these fulfilled needs we will slowly wither.

What are these needs?


We need to feel secure and to have somewhere that we feel safe. It’s often when this disappears that people come to me. They may have started University or a graduate programme and everything feels new and unsafe. Or they have a new boss who has turned out to be a bit of a bully. Right now, we are watching Putin do incredibly callous acts of warfare to Ukraine. The media is full of messages about the start of WW3 and the possibility of nuclear war. Our sense of security is under threat.


All of us need to feel that we have some sense of control. New apprentices in a workplace with no opportunity to make decisions often report feeling frustrated.


A lack of attention can make us feel unwanted. Attention from others can give us a boost of self-esteem. We also need to give others attention.


We all need to feel connected to at least someone else who accepts us. It could be a lover, a friend, or your mum. It doesn’t matter.


During the lockdown when families came together under one roof, many of us struggled with a lack of privacy. I include myself here too. My dad had died and with a full house I didn’t feel like I could even grieve properly. One day, I had to ask everyone to clear the house and go for a walk. I needed the space just so that I felt I could cry without worrying what others felt. This really brought home how important privacy is.


We all need that sense of belonging, a feeling that we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves.


We need to feel some sense of status, that we matter.


Feeling that we are good at something feels our self-esteem and finding out my coachee ‘s strengths is a vital part of my own coaching process.


Finally, this one often doesn’t rear its head until later in life, after we’ve got our basics sorted.  Often people come to me in their mid-life to discuss feeling a lack of meaning in their lives, or a need that they would like to jump careers and do something more altruistic.

Coaching and Human Givens Resources


It’s fascinating how people often come to me for coaching when one or more of these needs are not being met. The good about being human though, is that we have resources that can help us work to meet them. In short, these resources include:

  • Our imagination – we can envision what life will be like when we have achieved what we want, and this both motivates us, and is a strong tool in moving forward
  • A complex long-term memory – we can look at past occasions when we have tackled something similar, and analyse what we can learn from the past to apply now
  • The ability to build rapport. Most of us can do this instinctively, and have been doing so since we were babies
  • Our emotions and instincts – if we allow ourselves to listen to them. People often know what they want/what’s the best choice, they just don’t slow down long enough to listen to their knowing
  • An unconscious ability to pattern match, which helps us know the world around us instinctively
  • An observing self – we have the ability to step back from our problems and assess. Linked to this is our
  • Rational mind – that can analyse and notice patterns of behaviour. I am a big fan of bright, shiny new ideas and often need to remind myself to stay focused and on track
  • Finally, we dream. This allows our brain to discharge worries from the previous day. When all is well, we wake up refreshed and ready to deal with the day ahead.

Our coaching may involve using our imagination through visualising, or practising stepping into our observing self. As well reaching the goal of coaching, these practices also set you up for success throughout life. You are being coached to use your own resources and you can draw on these again and again. If you fancy learning what it’s all about, you can book a coaching session with me here.




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