Reality Therapy/Choice Theory

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Becoming more aware of different the therapy models is a part of my job these days.  My goal is to add posts under the category of “Counseling Practices” as I review and learn.

Reality Therapy/ Choice Theory Basics (founder:  William Glasser click on his name for more information)

We are all acting, behaving to meet these five basic needs:

  • Achievement/feeling worthwhile
  • To belong and connect to a family, friends, a group
  • Independence, autonomy, own space
  • Pleasure and entertainment, FUN!
  • Nourishment, shelter, intimacy

Another way to categorize them:

  • Power
  • Belonging
  • Freedom
  • Fun

When we are helping someone, we ask these 3 basic questions to understand where they may be lacking or having issues:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you doing to get what you want?
  3. Is it working?

As a helper, you can empower them to create a workable plan around these three questions.  Try to remember that the plan has to be within their control.  We can’t change others but we can change our behaviors.

DOING is the heart of reality therapy not our FEELINGS or the FEELINGS of others.

“Changing what we do is key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.”

We all desire control.  As we seek to meet these basic needs in our lives, we look at what we are doing to get them.  Do you use position, power, or control of space to get what you want?  What does that look like?

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A teenager demanding privacy and their own space is a good example of normal development in control.

There are  positive ways to control our environment, and there are negative ways or actions.  Some people use their power to manipulate others or hurt them.  Abuse or domestic violence are good examples.  Others may use drugs or alcohol for a false sense of control.

A good example of positive control is when a parent lovingly decides not to clean their teenager’s room or do their laundry but still maintains a healthy, positive relationship with the child while setting boundaries.

The heart of Reality Therapy:  The only person I can control is myself.

This therapy model may look at the past to determine how the person has developed patterns of choice but focuses more on the present and future.  The therapist will work more with setting obtainable goals so that the client sees immediate success between doing and changing your behavior to get what you want, despite how you feel.

The basis is to help the person see that they are not a victim of circumstance but have the power to make changes in their situation by changing their actions.

Simply explaining this to your children and asking them the three questions just might spark a healthy conversation.  Also, it might be nice to ask your mate or close friends about any unmet needs they are feeling and seek to listen.  Finally, self-reflection is always good!  What basic needs in your life are being met and you are thankful.  Speak those out in gratitude!

What areas could you do something about to produce change, based on your actions! What can you DO today to make changes, despite how you feel.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:2

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