Category Archives: Addiction

Free therapy sessions

 joe griffin teaching

A core element of each Human Givens Diploma Course are the two live therapy sessions from Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffin on both weeks of the course. This gives our students the opportunity to experience the therapeutic process right in front of them, and is a vital teaching tool for someone being prepared to work effectively with distressed clients.

These two sessions are FREE, with expenses paid, and usual applicants suffer from a range of problems, including but not limited to: depression, anxiety, PTSD, trauma, sleeping problems, problematic anger, relationship difficulties, phobias, addiction, psychosis and obsessive compulsive disorder.

We are looking for suitable people to benefit from these free sessions this autumn at Gilwell Park in London on these dates:

Wednesday 12th September 2007 – Session 1
Tuesday 16th October 2007 – Session 2

Friday 14th September 2007 – Session 1
Thursday 18th October 2007 – Session 2

To discuss the free therapy sessions or if you would like an application, either ring Kathy Hardy on 01323 811 440 or email:

Posted by: Eleanor


Our Amazon rankings!

If you type in ‘Depression’ in book search, on, 4,851 titles come up.

The Human Givens book on depression is No.3

If you type in ‘Anxiety’, 1,928 titles come up.

The Human Givens book on anxiety is No.2

If you type ‘Addiction’ 6,196 titles come up.

The Human Givens book on addiction is No.1

Posted by: Eleanor

The Problem with Smart Drugs

‘Smart drugs’ are in the news a lot at the moment, as the Department of Health commissions the Academy of Medical Sciences to assess their impact.

These drugs are billed as something people can use to work and play longer, harder and with less sleep and could become as “common as coffee”.

The two main issues with I can see with this are:

1 – There is a danger, with a lack of knowledge about the value of sleep, that the importance of getting the right amount of REM sleep might be minimised,

2 – There has been little mention of the risk of becoming addicted to these drugs. We are potentially at risk of becoming addicted to many (most?) things, but surely “as common as coffee” implies that taking these drugs copiously will be an option, with all the more chance for the addiction process to begin?

Posted by: Eleanor

A greater need for therapy to treat gamblers

Adding to the NHS’s mounting ‘to do’ list comes a call for better access to therapy for addicted gamblers.

“Former postman Neil Humphreys checked himself in after amassing debts of £16,000 – the same amount as he earned in a year. His gambling hobby became an addiction when he discovered internet casinos. It nearly destroyed his life.
“It just seemed to get hold of me,” he says.
“I actually tried to get rid of my computer at one point but then I started going to internet cafes and I was doing it there, so I couldn’t get away from it.
“I kept wanting to stop but as soon as I could get hold of some more money, I was back on it.”
Mr Humphreys tried closing his accounts with the online sites he was gambling on. But that did not work. He received emails and phone calls offering him free bets. In the end, he took up an offer of $250 free bets and started gambling again. Having lost everything, he is now surviving on benefits. It will take him 10 years to pay his debts back.”

Addiction occurs when chemical reward systems in the brain activated by whatever you’re addicted to start compensating for a lack of natural, more ‘wholesome’ rewards in your everyday life. Working towards a healthier life in which emotional needs are met is the starting point for addiction therapy.

Creating a society in which these needs can be more easily met should be a priority for the government, considering plans for ‘supercasinos’ that have been bandied about recently.

>> Read more about addiction here

Posted by: Eleanor

Mental Health Bill 2004 still fails to acknowledge or promote the importance of meeting emotional needs

The proposed Mental Health Bill 2004 still has some serious flaws.

The Government needs to go back to the basic principles of primary care: helping people get their innate physical and emotional needs met. These needs, the ‘human givens’, are each individual’s genetic inheritance. (Our biology determines that we cannot avoid needing food, water, attention, status, friends, being stretched in life etc.) How well our needs are met clearly depends on the quality of physical and emotional nourishment provided by the environment.

Human givens are intertwined. That is to say, if we are prevented from getting our physical needs met — by famine, accident, illness or ailments — our emotional life is affected. And when our emotional needs are not met and we suffer emotional distress — such as anxiety, anger, depression or psychosis — it can affect our physical health too.

Primary care with sufficient resources and training to act proactively in the mental health domain is not currently available. Too many people fall through the cracks, and with this Bill, they could be imprisoned and given drug treatments or ineffective psychotherapy against their will.

Compulsion within a resource-constrained mental health service will focus attention on minimising treatment and put pressure upon clinicians to prescribe drug treatments rather than focus on human needs and individualised therapy.

We believe that if society imposes an obligation of treatment on an individual, it should impose a moral obligation on itself to ensure that treatment is appropriate and available.

Posted by: Eleanor

The UK needs more than ‘Supernannies’

A few weeks ago it emerged that the Youth Justice system in the UK has reached a crisis point – with literally only a few beds available.

In response, the Government is targeting parents with their £4 million “super nannies” scheme – which will install 80 child psychologists in high crime areas to teach parents good parenting skills.

I was speaking this week to an array of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other health workers at a MindFields workshop and they were all in agreement that, whilst the intentions of the Government may appear to be good, changing the way children are brought up cannot be done as a short-term, ‘sticking plaster’ task of the kind politicians love so much. No one in the room felt able to trust politicians’ ability to do much to change things for the better. The feeling expressed was that they are floundering on the major issues of parenting, mental health and anti-social and criminal behaviour in just the same way they are over the war in Iraq.

To really make a difference requires long-term – a project lasting decades. That requires a bigger, more ‘true’ organising idea about what makes for a good life if it were to carry the population with it. The work would involve changing the very nature of our culture and its priorities. Just sending in 80 child psychologists to deprived areas to give ‘parenting classes’ only scratches the surface and, ultimately, will fail unless the fundamental needs of people can be met in the environment in much better ways than they are at present.

And it really must be seen as long-term endeavour. The brains of some children are already so damaged by their upbringing that they will remain a burden on the rest of us until they die. To stop this sad state of affairs getting worse will require an almost superhuman effort driven from a clear vision that guides the work over decades.

Until all agencies, education, health, government, media, work in tune with nature – the ‘human givens’ – and start to create a healthier culture by pushing for the kind of changes needed, there will be no meaningful improvements made.

The group I was talking to were unanimous that current government policies, by encouraging the infantilising of the population instead of helping it mature, are incapable of working because the laws and systems are too complex and hopelessly unrealistic. If this is a true reflection of the world we are now living in it’s not surprising then that many children are not growing up to fulfil in healthy ways what they might otherwise be capable of.

However hard parents try, many can’t help the fact that they are bringing up their children in a deeply uninspiring, criminally inclined environment that is culturally shallow. They live in a world where greedy, selfish behaviour is encouraged by strong exhortations to emotional expression that are constantly demonstrated and encouraged through the media (strong emotions, happy or sad, keep us ‘stupid’ and easy to condition) and families are collapsing.

When can we trust politicians?

We talk to a large number of people in the caring professions and education, thousands every year, and it is clear that there is a breakdown of trust between these people and politicians. No one expects politicians to do what is needed any more, yet they all expect politicians to interfere and make things worse. Despite this, changing our corrupting environment does require political leadership of intelligence and perspicacity. Even if only some of the taxpayer’s money that is wasted each year by government (£83 billion pounds according to the European Central Bank) was spent more wisely, much could be done to achieve what is actually needed, as required by the reality of the situation, instead of political ideology.

But on the present showing there seem to be no politicians interested in creating a healthier culture, or, if they do exist, they are so bogged down in power struggles and autistic bureaucratic political and civil service systems that they can’t operate. Whatever the reason, until politicians start to sincerely seek help from people who know how to facilitate making it easier for the innate needs of children and adults to be met more healthily in this country, and back them with money, the situation will deteriorate further. Children will continue to get their innate needs met but do so in ways that diminish them and society at large, as when a child’s need to connect up to larger groups and have status is satisfied by becoming part of the local delinquent criminal gang because they have no alternative.

Working with the givens of human nature should be the touchstone of any Government policy.

Posted by: Ivan

The Origins of the Human Givens Approach

Here is some background from our Human Givens Institute website on the origins of the human givens approach. I thought it would be interesting reading for people new to the concept who might be visiting this blog:

It is now commonly realised that there is a core set of principles for stabilising the human mind, creating harmony in and between communities, bringing order to schools and colleges, making government and administration more just and effective.

These principles grew out of the work of psychologists and psychotherapists who were trying to bring greater clarity to the way people who become depressed, anxious, traumatised or addicted are helped.

In 1992 they formed a group, the European Therapy Studies Institute (ETSI), whose aim was to discover why some psychotherapy approaches appeared to work and others didn’t. ETSI quickly gained several hundred members from a wide variety of professions whose support enabled them to publish a journal, The Therapist.

Three leading figures from the start were:

joe griffin ivan tyrrell pat williams

Joe Griffin, Ivan Tyrrell and Pat Williams.

Attacking the efficacy question from a scientific viewpoint, they discarded any approach that was dogmatic or hypothetical, or that research showed was not helpful, whatever its practitioners believed. They also incorporated what they could glean from the therapeutic wisdom of other cultures and times. Then they took what was left, stepped back and set about understanding how it matched up to the emerging findings of neuroscience, asking “why does this work?”

The result was a new synthesis of everything that can reliably be said to help human beings function well and be happy, together with remarkable new insights into the purpose of some long-unexplained brain mechanisms. These derived from the work by Joe Griffin on why we dream, how this relates to depression and psychosis, the importance of the REM state, and why we are so vulnerable to addiction

In 1996 MindFields College was founded to teach people about the practical application of this rapidly developing psychological knowledge. Since then over 150,000 people have attended MindFields courses. By 1997 the term ‘human givens’ was being used so often it stuck and the first monograph on the subject was published. Soon after that the journal changed its name to Human Givens to reflect its wider appeal and it grew from strength when Denise Winn joined as editor.

From a growing need to implement these ideas into training effective human givens counsellors, the first HG diploma course was run in April 2000. The approach grew organically, refining as it was being taught and merged with other knowledge and feedback from the wide range of psychologists, teachers, counsellors, psychotherapists, nurses, social workers and others who did the diploma.

The Human Givens Institute (HGI) was set up in 2001 for people who were using the approach in their work to keep in touch with one another.

In 2003 the first edition of Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking was published in hardback to great acclaim. Demand was so great it was republished almost immediately and then came out in paperback.

Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad, was published in 2004.

A new series of books, Essential help in troubled times – the human givens approach, was launched to introduce new knowledge (about getting out of depression, curing addictions and mastering anxiety) to the general public. The first two titles quickly became best sellers and a new book has just been published.

In March 2006 a higher level of education was introduced on a new course for people wishing to explore these ideas even further.

As knowledge of how human beings function continues to grow it is essential for therapists that they never stop learning. The human givens approach to therapy is an open and evolving concept — continually incorporating new knowledge and insights as they come to light — which frees us to see more clearly what really works and why, and makes therapists and counsellors more effective at relieving distress.

Posted by: Eleanor