Evolution-Informed Therapy

EIT is therapy informed by what we know about evolutionary processes in general as well as what we specifically know about human evolution, both biological and cultural.

  • Human existence is a form of life (biological & cultural)
  • All forms of life come into existence via the historical process of Evolution
  • Evolutionary processes operate on self-replicating entities (genes, memes etc) via Selection (Natural, Sexual)

The Relevance of Evolutionary Theory to Therapy

As Paul Gilbert, creator of Compassion-Focused Therapy, has said: "...our evolved brains come with a lot of trade-offs, compromises and glitches – they are amazingly complex and do amazing things but are not ‘well designed’."     (Gilbert, P., 2014, The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy, British Journal of Clinical Psychology)

Our characteristics as a species are determined by a long evolutionary process, and in particular by what is called the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation (the typical ancestral environment where the main adaptations of our species were laid down). The EEA of Homo Sapiens is the environment experienced by hunter-gatherer tribes on the African savannas in prehistoric Pleistocene times - this means that as a species we are not necessarily always well-adapted to our very different current environments.

Taking this evolutionary perspective with problems such as anxiety and addictions can be invaluable. Amongst other things it can help clients to understand why human beings in general are susceptible to these problems, which can be very freeing for them, helping them to have less shame and more self-compassion.

Years of Life on Earth:~4 billion
Years of Genus "Homo": ~3 million
Years of Human Civilisation: ~10,000

Charles Darwin

Useful articles at this link



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