Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are 5 levels of needs that are essential to life. These levels are needed to sustain life and an individual cannot move to a different level without the complete satisfaction of the previous level. In order for an individual to be successful in life Maslow has created a set of needs that basic life needs.

The first one is physiological needs which is our basic needs and that one is always motivated to achieve these needs before an individual can move up the pyramid. The most basic needs are food, water, shelter, sex, and air. A good example is swimming and diving at the bottom of the pool and you are then motivated to reach the top when you are running out of air.  If you are successful in reaching these needs you move on to safety which is freedom of fear, protection from elements, security, and stability. An example is the difficulty of leaving a familiar job because it provides you with some security and stability. Then the next level is love and belongingness which is intimacy. This is the idea that everyone needs to feel connected whether it be with coworkers, friends or having an intimate relationship. Next is esteem which is a sense of respect from people whether that’s from your job or the work you do and respect from doing certain hobbies. And the last one is self-actualization which is accomplishing something that you didn’t feel like you could ever accomplish. This could be like PASSING THE EXAM, cooking a meal graduating from college or getting your dream job.

These needs are important to remember especially as social workers seeing client’s face to face for us to remember that if their basic needs are not being met then they cannot go forward in their treatment.  Not that they don’t want to but because they are only motivated by the unmet need at the time such as food, water, or shelter anything beyond that is not of interest at the moment.

This is also important to remember on the test especially on those difficult NEXT questions where they are want to know the order in which you would do things. Always remember the order of needs in which you would assist a client. An individual has lots of needs but the most basic and most important is food, water, shelter, sleep, and safety. If these things are met then we can proceed in helping them with the other needs necessary to help them function in everyday life.

A more simplified way of looking at Maslow’s pyramid is remembering I am comfortable (physiological), I am Safe (safety), I belong (love and belonging) I am known (esteem) and I am ME (self-actualization)

CREDIT: Karen McVickers LCSW