Difference between Reality Therapy and Choice Theory.

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I am having a problem understanding if Reality Therapy is the same as Chice Theory. Are they the same thing with two different names or is Choice Theory an offshoot of Reality Therapy? If a client asked what therapy you use, would you say you practice Reality Therapy or Choice Theory? Please don't refer me to Glasser's books, I have order them, but am still confused.

-- Dan Maxwell (kenpo1958@aol.com), July 17, 2003


In the early sixties, under the mentorship of the late Dr. Harrington, Dr. Glasser devised a system of therapy that essentially remains unchanged today. It is called 'Reality Therapy' and from its original use in a mental health environment it has moved into addiction centers, marriage and school work and counselling in general. Around 1980 he came across a theory, devised by William Powers,which was called 'Control Theory'. Although this theory originally comes from the engineering world and refers to mechanical processes Glasser realised that it explained very well why we humans behave as we do and indeed why Reality Therapy works. He worked on, moulded, and changed the theory to a point that he thought that realistically it no longer resembled the riginal 'Control Theory'; thus he changed the name into 'Choice Theory'.

-- ken lyons (kenlyon@gofree.indigio.ie), July 19, 2003.

Ken Lyons has given a correct answer. And although you asked not to be referred to the books, it may be helpful to consult the Reality Therapy in Action text as these are a collection of case studies in which reality therapy as informed by Choice Theory is used time after time across the broad spectrum of cases. When Bill comments on a case, he uses Choice Theory to explain why he does what he does. In Bill's own refinement of the work of Powers, he eliminated the orders of perception and has presented Total Behavior. Reality Therapy is a term used to describe the counselor and client's work together; Choice Theory is the theoretical construct which guides such work. It is a belief system based on an integration of psychology, behavior, systems, and genetics. I usually think of these as "bookends" and note I need both all of the time.

-- suzy hallock-bannigan (suzyatdonegal@aol.com), July 29, 2003.

Dan, Reality Therapy is the vehicle through which we are able to apply Choice Theory concepts. In a nutshell, Reality Therapy is comprised of the following questioning loop--What do I/you want? (Refers to Quality World), What am I/are you doing? (Refers to Total Behavior), Is it working? (Evaluation/Processing) and What else can I/you do? (Reorganization of our Behavioral System). Via the Reality Therapy loop, we are always investigating new ways to meet our needs. It is vitally important to do so when our current behaviors are inappropriate or ineffective or outdated, our consequences are unwanted, or our feeling state is negative (Frustration signal). I hope this allows you an accurate concise explanation. TD

-- Ted Donato (tdonato@toppenish.wednet.edu), September 09, 2003.

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