10 Categories of Human Needs


Air, water, food, shelter, clothing, work, rest, exercise, good health

Subsistence or sustenance refers to all of the human needs required to sustain our physical bodies. This basic survival needs must be met or the body will perish.


Security, safety, reassurance, trust, stability, care

One of our most important needs is safety. We need real protection from physical threats and we need to experience a sense of safety and security emotionally. We need to feel safe in our environment and in our relationships. When this need goes unmet the individual feels increasing levels of fear and anxiety.


Intimacy, human connection, communication, empathy, companionship, sensuality, nurturing, closeness, trust, touch, sexuality, acceptance, gratitude

All people have a need for human connection on an emotion, physical and spiritual level. This category refers primarily to one on one intimate relationships with family and friends. We need a secure emotional bond or attachment with another human being that we can depend on. We need other people to see us and know us and understand us and accept us for who we are. We need to give and receive love.


Employment, community involvement, purpose, communication, respect, support, interdependence, belonging, equality, acceptance, appreciation, inclusion, justice 

In addition to intimate relationships, we need to belong to a larger group of individuals. We get this need met through our involvement in work or church or some other organization. We need to relate to others and use our God-given gifts and talents to serve others. We need to be giving to others and receiving from others.


Connection with God, prayer, worship, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, grace, mercy, forgiveness, inspiration, spirituality, service,

We were created to have a relationship with God. Our relationship with God involves talking and listening to God (prayer), worship (praising God), fellowship (sharing your experience of God with others), studying the Bible (sermons and small groups) and many other activities that help us to feel God’s presence. We need to receive and experience God’s unconditional love for us.


Meaning, authenticity, integrity, honesty, appreciation, validation, transparency, purpose, sense of significance, self-worth

We need to have a strong sense of identity or who we are. We need to present ourselves with honesty and authenticity. We need a sense of personal integrity which means that all the various parts our being (personality, speech and behavior) are integrated. In addition to who I am, I need to know why I am here, what brings my life meaning or what my purpose is.


Knowledge, awareness, insight, feedback, consciousness, intuition, revelation, investigation, experimentation

We need education, knowledge, and an understanding of the world around us. We need to become aware of ourselves and others around us. We need feedback from others to help adjust our sense of reality. We must always seek to learn and understand more about God, ourselves and others.


Idleness, recreation, peace, relaxation, harmony, spontaneity, humor, laughter

We need a time when we are free from the stress and over stimulation of everyday life. This time allows us to de-stress or relax, to let go of our worries and experience a sense of peace and harmony. We need to play and have fun, to be involved in activities which are re-creational for us.


Inspiration, imagination, wholeness, beauty, stimulation, self expression, motivation, incentive, passion 

 We need to both express our own creativity and celebrate the beauty of the creation around us. We need to experience ourselves demonstrating our own creativity through art, music, writing, craftsmanship and other activities. We also need to experience and appreciate the beauty and creativity of others.

FREEDOMAutonomy, independence, multiple choices, order, exploration, growth, curiosity We need to have the ability and the support to make our own choices and to take action on our choices. God created us with freewill, which is the ability to make choices for ourselves. When we make choices and take action we experience autonomy and a sense of our own competence and power. It is important for us even as children to make our own choices and have a sense of control over our lives.