William Glasser’s Choice Theory Essay

2864 words - 11 pages

Dr. William Glasser was a distinguished psychiatrist and author known for his distinctive views about mental illness. Glasser broke away from the traditional model of psychotherapy in the early 1960s to develop his own model of counseling. Dr. Glasser began with the development of therapy before he developed his theoretical stance. Glasser created what is known as Reality Therapy. Glasser first defined Reality Therapy as “a therapy that leads all patients toward reality, towards grappling successfully with tangible and intangible aspects of the real world” (p.6).
In 1967, he founded The Institute for Reality Therapy. In 1969, Glasser published Schools Without Failure. Glasser suggests that children be taught about these needs as well as ways of more legitimately satisfying them. Choice theory places a great emphasis on helping children achieve their needs responsibly. Glasser states that when children’s needs are met, they find little cause to create trouble. The task of the teacher is to help them satisfy their needs legitimately and to help them learn to balance their needs.
In the late 70’s, Glasser was introduced to control theory systems through the writings of William T. Powers. In consultation with Powers, Dr. Glasser applied Powers’ knowledge of how systems work to the field of human behavior.
By 1980, he had begun to form the idea that led to choice theory: why so many people are unhappy in their relationships. Unlike all other living creatures, only human beings are genetically driven by the need for power. We try to satisfy that need by using what he calls, external control psychology – literally trying to force people to do what we want them to do. This struggle has led to the symptoms described in the DSM-IV. Dr. Glasser teaches that if we can't figure out how to satisfy our power need by respecting each other, our days on earth are numbered. He offers choice theory to replace external control and has dedicated the remainder of his life to teaching and supporting this idea.
After almost 20 years without a theory, Glasser published Control Theory in 1984. “In essence, reality therapy was the art of change, and control theory was the theory of what needed to be changed and why.” Howatt (2001).
In 1996, Glasser announced that he was going to start referring to what had hitherto been control theory, as “choice theory,” and in 1998 published Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom. Glasser felt that the term control was misleading and suggestive of coercion.
In this book, Glasser greatly expanded the understanding of motivation and behavior. He and then added, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (2003), to help people improve their mental health and happiness. In 2005 he produced a booklet, Defining Mental Health as a Public Health Issue to provide a new resource for mental health professionals. Finally, in 2007, Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage, which he co-authored with his wife,...

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