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Needs Assessment and Universal Needs List

Updated: Jun 7

Practice Attunement to heal in connection with self and other

What have you been needing?

This article seeks to provide language and support in the process of identifying and expressing your needs.


The Universal Needs List has been broken down into 5 categories:

  • Body Needs

  • Safety Needs

  • Individual Needs

  • Relationship Needs

  • Spiritual Needs


Following this Needs Assessment Exercise below will strengthen your capacity to feel safe and understood in connection with yourself and others.



Needs Assessment Exercise

✨Start to tune in to your needs✨


Begin by asking yourself: “What have I been needing?”


Feel into your body. Your body is communicating to you, and asking that you take time to experience yourself in the present.


Turn down the volume of your thoughts and drop into your sensory experience - Notice where your body is carrying pain, stress, or tension. Tap into the world of sensation in your body. Notice your breath, and assess your body for any needs that would increase your comfort and embodied presence.


Body Needs


  • Water

  • Food

  • Health

  • Air

  • Rest

  • Shelter

  • Pleasure

  • Fresh Air

  • Space

  • Stimulation

  • Movement

  • Comfort

  • Touch

  • Sleep

  • Warmth

  • Rejuvenation

  • Sexual Expression

  • Nurturing

  • Relief

  • Choice

  • Autonomy

  • Healthcare




Ask yourself "What do I need to feel safe and secure?" Identify any needs or values related to Safety using the Universal Needs List.


Safety Needs

Stability Consistency Support Order/Structure Peaceful Environments Security of Mind and Body Peace of Mind Trust Financial Security Security of Resources Access to Health and Wellness Time Safe Community Protection from Harm Legal Rights and Protections Freedom from danger Physical Safety Emotional Safety Safe Space for Emotional Expression



What do I need, as an individual, to feel secure in my sense of self? Identify Individual Needs by reflecting on your personal experience.


Individual Needs

Presence Meaning Self-Care Self-Compassion Awareness Respect Healing Consideration Freedom Integrity Autonomy Focus Independence Self-Love Authenticity Self-Regulation Consistency Clarity Motivation Self-Expression Self-Responsibility Curiosity Ease Tenderness Dignity Self-Acceptance Self-Knowledge Growth Exploration Discovery



What social or relationship needs would support my capacity for connection? Notice where your relationships with others could use tending by identifying relationship needs using the list below.


Relationship Needs


  • Connection

  • Appreciation

  • Companionship

  • Support

  • Affirming Community

  • Empathy

  • Kindness

  • Communication

  • Honesty

  • Mutual Recognition

  • Attunement

  • Love

  • Partnership

  • Belonging

  • Trust

  • Friendship

  • Intimacy

  • Reciprocity

  • Understanding others

  • Equity

  • Respect

  • Giving Affection

  • Receiving Affection

  • Secure Emotional Connection

  • To be heard, seen

  • To be known, understood

  • To be trusted

  • Inclusion

  • Participation

  • Closeness

  • Harmony

  • Sharing




What does my spirit need to feel alive? Check in with your heart to identify what might help you feel aligned in the present.


Spiritual Needs

Hope Joy Creativity Mattering to myself Play Inspiration Purpose Will Mourning/Grief Service Contribution Celebration Faith Beauty Spiritual Practice Prayer Consciousness Interconnectedness Flow Presence Alignment Inner Peace Vitality


Close out your needs assessment by thanking yourself for taking the time to inquire into your needs, and trust that the more you forge this path of attuning to your own needs, the easier and more satisfying it will become.

I honor all that I hold and embody today. I trust myself to take care of my body, mind, spirit, and relationships as needs arise. I am witnessing myself without judgement, and in loving awareness.
 

The Healing Power of Attunement - The Witnessing of Needs


Many humans feel disconnected from a knowledge of their needs.


We have a hard time feeling into our bodies, our individual and collective experience, and putting words to what we are lacking, and what might help.


For many of us, this difficulty knowing our needs results from a lack of attunement early in life. Without a loving witness, many of us did not have room to explore our experience, to speak about our desires, and to find language for our pain.


Attunement is our capacity to be present with and witness to expressions of experience in ourself and others. Attunement moves beyond empathy, to recognize, understand, and relationally respond to the needs and pain one witnesses in themself and others.


Being attuned to:

  • Can be achieved by yourself and in relationships

  • Feels like a warm embrace when you're in pain

  • Allows your needs to be seen and heard

  • Provides regulation and soothing for the nervous system

  • Involves authentic and vulnerable communication with self and other

  • Creates emotional safety and security

  • Soothes pain in a way that is manageable and regulating

  • Allows us to exist in connection with ourselves and the world around us

Attunement is about witnessing and responding to human experiences.


By tuning into our needs and suffering (and that of others) we build the capacity to feel safe and understood in connection.


Attunement is what therapy and healing is all about - learning that we can feel safe to rest, digest, and exist in connection with ourself and others. Knowing that whatever experiences and needs arise in the present moment will be met with understanding, non-judgement, and care.


What happens when we develop in the absence of attunement?

Attunement is a core developmental need. Without the presence of a loving and responsive other, we struggle to knowing what we need, and may feel our needs do not deserve to be met.

"Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathic witness." - Peter Levine

Attunement offers an empathic witness to support with healing.


It is important to note that healing from trauma is challenging to do on our own. Please reach out to a therapist or coach to support you with understanding your needs as you process traumatic experiences.

Attunement Interruptions in Queer Experience:

The absence of an empathic witness is an all-too-common theme in 2SLGBTQIA+ folks who grew up lacking attunement from caregivers, or not feeling safe enough in the world to express their desires. Many of us were not met with the openness, dignity and respect we deserve.


Without a loving witness, many Queer-identified individuals did not have room to explore their experience, to speak about their desires, and to find language for their pain.


The good news is that we can practice feeling into our needs, and by doing this we can attune to ourselves. It is never too late to start tuning in.


Attunement is a powerful force to heal in connection with self and other. Attunement is a simple act that can be practiced by pausing and connecting to your experience in the present moment to assess your needs.

Self-attunement is a reparenting practice that develops our capacity to feel alive and present in the world, to hold space and time for ourself, and to experience fullness and expansion. Practicing Self Attunement is possible with tools like breathwork, body scans, and assessment of our needs.


For my own healing, learning self-attunement has been incredibly rewarding and supported me personally and relationally. It is my hope that connecting to your needs and sharing your experience with others is made easier by the practice of attunement, and the needs assessment exercise.


As always, thank you for tuning in and take care!


In solidarity, Dani Sullivan, MSW


 

Universal Human Needs List


BODY NEEDS:
  • Water

  • Food

  • Health

  • Air

  • Rest

  • Shelter

  • Pleasure

  • Fresh Air

  • Space

  • Stimulation

  • Movement

  • Comfort

  • Touch

  • Sleep

  • Warmth

  • Rejuvenation

  • Sexual Expression

  • Nurturing

  • Relief

  • Choice

  • Autonomy

  • Healthcare


SAFETY NEEDS:
  • Stability

  • Consistency

  • Support

  • Order/Structure

  • Peaceful Environments

  • Security of Mind and Body

  • Peace of Mind

  • Trust

  • Financial Security

  • Security of Resources

  • Access to Health and Wellness

  • Time

  • Safe Community

  • Protection from Harm

  • Legal Rights and Protections

  • Freedom from danger

  • Physical Safety

  • Emotional Safety

  • Safe Space for Emotional Expression


INDIVIDUAL NEEDS:
  • Presence

  • Meaning

  • Self-Care

  • Self-Compassion

  • Awareness

  • Respect

  • Healing

  • Consideration

  • Freedom

  • Integrity

  • Autonomy

  • Focus

  • Independence

  • Self-Love

  • Authenticity

  • Self-Regulation

  • Consistency

  • Clarity

  • Motivation

  • Self-Expression

  • Self-Responsibility

  • Curiosity

  • Ease

  • Tenderness

  • Dignity

  • Self-Acceptance

  • Self-Knowledge

  • Growth

  • Exploration

  • Discovery

RELATIONSHIP NEEDS:
  • Connection

  • Appreciation

  • Companionship

  • Support

  • Affirming Community

  • Empathy

  • Kindness

  • Communication

  • Honesty

  • Mutual Recognition

  • Attunement

  • Love

  • Partnership

  • Belonging

  • Trust

  • Friendship

  • Intimacy

  • Reciprocity

  • Understanding others

  • Equity

  • Respect

  • Giving Affection

  • Receiving Affection

  • Secure Emotional Connection

  • To be heard, seen

  • To be known, understood

  • To be trusted

  • Inclusion

  • Participation

  • Closeness

  • Harmony

  • Sharing


SPIRITUAL NEEDS:
  • Hope

  • Joy

  • Creativity

  • Mattering to myself

  • Play

  • Inspiration

  • Purpose

  • Will

  • Mourning/Grief

  • Service

  • Contribution

  • Celebration

  • Faith

  • Beauty

  • Spiritual Practice

  • Prayer

  • Consciousness

  • Interconnectedness

  • Flow

  • Presence

  • Alignment

  • Inner Peace

  • Vitality


*This is a working list of needs that can be added to via comment. I invite you to send over language that supports you and I will add it to the list of Universal Human Needs

 

Thank you for being here. Thank you for tuning inward.

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