Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
By: Jason Nerio LMFT
Whether you have been in therapy for some time now or have not yet had the opportunity to engage in mental health services it can be helpful to have a framework for understanding our needs. Growing up I can remember constantly hearing about the “Food Pyramid,” and how sticking to the food pyramid would guide us to being the best physical versions of ourselves. Well, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, by Abraham Maslow, takes this concept to the next level to work towards being the best versions of ourselves overall. There are 5 categories that make up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, (Physiological Needs, Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization.)
Physiological Needs: air, food, water, sleep, shelter, clothing, reproduction.
Safety Needs: Personal Security, employment, resources, health, property.
Love and belonging: Friendship, intimacy, family sense of connection.
Esteem: Respect, self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, and freedom.
Self-Actualization: Desire to become the most that one can be.
This is often not a linear process from one category to the next rather that it may be easier to take smaller steps to reaching self-actualization. Giving time and attention to each category rather than attempting to achieve all these stages at one time creates a strong and lasting foundation to build from. For some obtaining their needs can be challenging or overwhelming, that is where working with a therapist to understand the barriers to underlying needs and steps towards getting their needs met can be beneficial. Referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with clients throughout their mental health journey has helped my clients by having a visual representation of what their needs where at the beginning of services as compared to what their needs might be near the end of the therapeutic journey. If most of these needs are being met, I believe our overall mental and physical health will be promising. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves and before we begin that journey it is important to ask ourselves, “What are my needs and are they being met?”