The Needs Model of Well Being

What do you need?If you really want to help someone, this surely has to be the best question in the world. We routinely expect doctors and medics to “fix us” using various interventions from pills to surgery, yet a huge number of conditions could be alleviated simply by asking (and then responding appropriately!) to the simple question “What do you need right now?”

But it isn’t quite so straightforward as that (is it ever?) Because we seem to have lost sight of what it is that we actually need to live a life that truly works. We confuse what we “want” with what we “need”, and we try to apply solutions which worked well for one person to others who may see life very differently. Other than recommending “five a day”, we do not consider it important to educate our children about how to create a healthy lifestyle. This is probably because there is very little agreement about what is required for a healthy lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to discover a simple way of looking at well being which could be universally applied?

Are you being stretched, or stressed?

Mental ill-health is often preceded by stress – either a single stressful event, or a build up over many years of chronic stress. We know that a stressful life event can be the trigger that results in clinical depression. But we rarely stop to consider what exactly causes stress – the same stimulus or hardship may cause one person to stretch themselves to excel, while another will experience the same stimulus as unbearably stressful, causing overload and even illness.

But isn’t that just Maslow?

In the middle of last century, Abraham Maslow wrote about the “hierarchy of needs” and a familiar triangular diagram has been presented in psychology textbooks for the past fifty years. He did little empirical research to back up his writing – but recent studies have supported the idea that there is meaning in the idea that all human beings have needs. Interestingly, the studies do not support the idea that needs can be arranged in a meaningful hierarchy in the way that the textbooks suggest – but this is not necessary to understand the needs model.

Over the years we have noticed that people who instantly know in which pigeon hole to file away an idea, rarely stop to look in detail at how that idea might be utilised.

What’s in a name?

Since the late nineteen nineties, psychotherapists using the human givens** approach have been applying Maslow’s ideas (as well as other important insights) in a highly practical and effective form, helping many thousands of people to improve their well-being. One of the several fundamental ideas that underpin the human givens approach is the “needs model”.

The needs model idea is both simple and extremely powerful, so in8 has developed a resource pack aimed at helping people to implement the model – we call it in8 Cards.

** The human givens approach was given this name because it is primarily about the “givens” (i.e. those things which can be taken “to be a given”) of human nature.

In this short video I describe an overview of the needs model of well being.

If you found this interesting, you might also want to take a look at my video introducing the in8 Cards well being resource pack which you can view here.