Human Givens Journal – Issue 52

The latest issue of the Human Givens Journal is now out.

Major articles:

Human Givens and the NHS: Sandwell has incorporated human givens principles into its mental health stragety. Dr Ian Walton assesses the challenges

How to tackle the toxic boss: Jill Walker tells Denise Winn about the strategies that she has devised for helping people stand up to poor or bullying managers

Doing what counts: Bill Andrews explains how all therapists can help provide the hard evidence that the human givens approach works

Seeding Success: Graham Robertson makes highly effective use of plants in his work with distressed or underperforming asolescents at school

Patterns that persist: Pat Williams shares her discovery that stories particularly treasured – or feared – in childhood can cast powerful ‘forward shadows’

Against the law – but in line with the lore?: Steve Davidson invstigates whether offending behaviour may be predicted by the stories that offenders were drawn to as children

When time’s not on our side: James Horton describes his work as one of the new mental health practitioners in primary care

If any of this sounds interesting, you can order a copy, take out a subscription, or read about back issues by visiting


7 responses to “Human Givens Journal – Issue 52

  1. I have read much of the material on your websites and posted a response to what you have written about CBT in December but wondered if the archives are not looked at very much so I’ll put it here also. Much of this human givens stuff is interesting but I’m concerned at the claims of superiority insinuated over CBT and the apparent differences. There is an inference that CBT folk believe that all problems, centered around beliefs, originate in the prefrontal cortex. nothing could be further from the truth. One only has to read major influences in CBT like Padesky and Michenbaum to know this is not the case. In fact Michenbaum’s model for working with folk is the description of a clock. 12 = activating agent of human givens, the environmental trigger, 3 = the affect and corresponding physioligical arousal associated, 6 = thoughts that arise in the emotionally charged state and 9 = any associated berhaviours. I fail to see the distinction between this and your APET model. it appears that there is some confusion in human givens as to what constitutes a “thought”. “Schema” is a term associated with CBT and from everything I read about human givens, your “patterns” are CBT “schemas”. No self respecting CBT therapist believes that problems arise fundamentally in the “reasoning” centres of the brain. “schemas” are set through integration of early experiences. As a result of these schemas beliefs do become established and reinforced over time. Challenging beliefs and assumptions arising in the emotional centres of the brain through activation of the cortex is at the heart of CBT, but CBT has long been associated with many techniques to calm down emotional arousal before attempting to engage in such processes. There are studies of combination of CBT with applied relaxation and hypnosis. Every CBT therapist I know is trained to calm people down before attempting to engage in trying to challenge existing beliefs and assumptions. If human givens really does have something new to contribute it would be nice to see a more colaborative and less confrontational language used, particularly when, as yet, it seems, there is a complete dirth of any sort of established evidence, recognised by the scientific community for its efficacy. New ideas are wonderful and we all want to see new ideas come forward to be of more help to more people. However, there appears to be something confrontational about the approach as well as a mis-representation of information about elements of other approaches. “thoughts” in CBT terms represent everything happening in the mind,- imagery, sounds etc, those instantaneous happenings within the mind, that human givens appears to describe as “patterns”.
    Are some of your journal articles available online?

  2. Hi Leamas – I’m sorry, I did read your comment and I have been thinking about it and composing a reply and also asking the opinion of others on your points – I will reply to you eventually!

    Meanwhile: some archived Journal articles (though not all) are available here:

    Thanks for your patience

  3. Hello Leamas/Elaenor,

    Good questions Leamas, I have become very intrested in Human Givens myself since reading posts on another blog by a guy who says he’s a HumanGivensCounsellor. He got bullied off that page, but as a person who has suffered with dpression for many years I found his posts totally inspiring, infact it applied to me nearly 100%.
    All this time I didnt really believe I was succeptble to chemical imbalance, I was told I had a problem in my brain, but I agree with that guy that it was stress and stuff happenin which pushed me over the edge.
    I work in youth work now and want to learn more about these things. Where can I get a book from bout Hg? Is Hg similar to CBT, your questions about thoughts confuse me but I dont know enough to understand it.
    Anyway this blog is cool and I hope friendlier.
    many thanx, AndyB

  4. Hi Andy/Leamas,

    It’s important to reassert that the Human Givens approach seeks to
    bring together and use what is proven effective in therapy, and this includes
    using valuable elements of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

    CBT has come a long way since Becks original ABC model, and it is
    evolving just as much as Human Givens is – for example see the
    inclusion of “mindfulness” in CBT as described in the recent book by
    Hayes et al, “Mindfulness and Acceptance – Expanding the Cognitive
    Behavioural Tradition”. This is not classic CBT, it’s a development.

    The reason I put this article on the MindFields blog was because it
    was a new addition to our online archive, which I am trying to
    increase awareness of. It wasn’t very clear that the article was
    written quite some time ago, in 2002, but thank you for bring up some
    very interesting points relating to it.

    Andy – Thanks for your comment! To learn more about the human givens
    approach, the best thing to do would be to look on our resources
    website for the Human Givens Institute:

    And read (or re-read) the Human Givens book, available on our online
    shop here here.

    Best wishes,


  5. Eleanor,
    Thanks for your comments. I trust that your Institute will see that these articles are updated to be more reflective of the current position in CBT. I’m sure Arron Beck would be shocked to think CBT is portrayed as though no evolution had taken place since the late 1950’s. No doubt Human Givens ideas will evolve over time in the light of emerging evidence and you would not wish to see it portrayed as holding the same ideas from an earlier era. In any case, it seems a bit of a shot in the foot on the part of human givens to be making some sort of serious distinction from CBT. If much within human givens is in fact variations of and additions to CBT it would surley be much wiser to embrace the similarities so that all the CBT research, of which there is a considerable amount, would actually go to support a starting evidence base for human givens.

    I have taken interest in the links to the articles you provided me with so thanks for that. The “rewind” idea sounds rather nice but I was disappointed to see so-called research support. While the story of the Coventry work sounds nice it hardly stands up to any sort of serious scrutiny. 1 therapist working on a group of 29 people, only 4 of whom could have a diagnosis of PTSD and where 53% rated it successful hardly has the hallmarks of scientific evaluation. It makes a nice anecdotal story but really does nothing to help the cause of taking this seriously. Hopefully, your Institute will be addressing this in time.
    In general, there is something rather bothersome about the referencing of your materials. For example, there is a claim that “Extensive research shows that psychodynamic therapy deepens depression and makes it last longer” and the referenced article is Danton, W, Antonuccio, D and DeNelsky, G (1995). Depression: psychotherapy is the best medicine. Professional Psychology Research and Practice, 26, 574. However, in this article the only reference to anything resembling this very bold statement that apparently disenfranchaises psychodynamic therapy is point no. 2 in the 10 points at the end of the article where it is suggested that insight counselling may not be a good idea in depression, but the statement itself is not referenced. So, it appears, unless I’m missing something, that your “extensive research” is a mis-quote from a point in 1 article and the point itself is not referenced. I would be obliged if you could direct me to some more of the extensive research you are suggesting exists. You will know that, these days, certainly in all service provision of psychodynamic therapy (outside of private sector) the number of visits is very short, with 6 sessions being fairly typical. Furthermore, as your own information points out on your research site, much of current outcome data points to equivalence of varieties of approaches. I wonder why your writers choose such confrontational language when the entire field seems to be trying to move to one of collaboration. I would imagine your human givens might have much to contribute to any therapist and may help a therapist enhance what he or she already does well. it seems a pity that your writers feel the need to somehow put others down in this way, particularly when the supporting references are extremely thin on the ground.
    However, that said, I do find the ideas interesting. The theories around REM sleep and dreaming are something different and seem to make sense. Can you point me in the direction of any supportive research that suggests the activity in the brain during a waking state such as during relaxation or guided imagery (which seems a thinly disguised term in human givens terms for hypnosis) is one and the same as REM during sleep? Has this been researched by anybody or is it simply a scientifically unsubstantiated theory? Again, as with your “rewind” it would be nice to see human givens making some moves in the direction of developing some evidential support for the claims that are made, often in a language as though they are established empirical facts.


  6. Hi Leamas – Thanks again for your points, you’re obviously really interested in the Human Givens and have done immense amounts of background reading and research – I’m quite curious to know, do you work in this area, as you seem very knowledgable?

    As you know, we are very keen to get more research and evidence for the human givens approach. Many of the techniques human givens therapists use, such as the rewind techinique you mention, need only to be seen or experienced (e.g. as delegates do on our trauma workshop) to see their validity. But we agree, more concrete research is also needed so that these techniques can be more widely accepted and therefore available to the people that need them.

    By the way, I can’t help noticing your username, are you a particular fan of John le Carre?!

    Best wishes,

  7. I have never read a book by John le Carre. My attention came to your blog through another blog that you contributed to. I’m reading what you are directing me to on your website.
    And your answer to my serious questions concerning extensive research is?


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