The term choice theory has originated from the work of Dr. William Glasser, MD, an American psychiatrist from Cleveland, Ohio; and which was popularized through his book of the same title released in 1998. Choice theory is the culmination of Glasser’s research work on psychology and counseling pning 50 years. It used to called control theory, and is the foundation of Glasser’s Reality Therapy, a particular approach used in psychotherapy and counseling which was developed in the 1960’s. This approach focuses on the present emotional status of a person and the possible ways on creating a better future, instead of concentrating on his past.
Reality therapy establishes a person’s ability in making decisions, taking actions in his life, and being able to control his life. This approach allows a person in discovering what they really want in their lives, and learns whether their current activities are actually leading them to their actual goals. Reality therapy has gained a decent following in the United States and is now widely used in the field of education. Choice theory considers that behavior is the center of human existence. Human existence is further determined by the five genetically driven needs, which includes survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun.
According to Maslow, survival includes man’s basic biological needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. The remaining four are the fundamental psychological needs. This theory considers that among the five, the most important need is love, or belonging, due to the fact that a person’s closeness to the people he love and care about is an essential factor in satisfying all the five needs. Choice theory also includes the “seven caring habits”: supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences.
Against these habits are the “seven deadly habits”: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing or rewarding in order to control. Choice theory and the seven caring habits are aimed to replace and counteract the so-called external control psychology and the seven deadly habits, which is believed to be the present state of mind of most people in the world. The seven deadly habits are believed to be destroying relationships because it ruins a person’s ability to find satisfaction in his relationship.
This further results to people getting disconnected from the people they care about, and which would prove to be the cause of most problems in the society at present: illnesses, depression, substance abuse, and uncontrolled violence, and rising crime rates. Choice theory then presents ten axioms, and these are: 1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own. 2. All we can give another person is information. 3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems. 4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life. 5.
What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future. 6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World. 7. All we do is behave. 8. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. 9. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think. 10.
All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable. The idea of the existence of a “quality world” is presented by choice theory, which states that a person, beginning at birth and throughout his life, places everything important to him, including people, his beliefs, materials things, and other valuables into this world. The person then behaves throughout his life to achieve a real world based on his quality world. Related to the ideas of a person’s real and quality worlds is the “comparing place” where the real world is compared to the quality world.
With the idea of “total behavior”, Glasser believes that among the four components, a person can only exert control over two, which are acting and thinking; and have limited capacity to influence the other two, feeling and physiology. As these four are interconnected, the manner by which a person acts and thinks has tremendous impact on his feelings and physiology. Glasser’s choice theory is one that is based psychology. The theory further states that most mental illnesses being experienced by most people in the world are caused by unhappiness.
Mental illness is actually brought about by a person’s unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life. Although contested by most mainstream psychiatrists, Glasser’s theory is now used in a wider range of social issues including education, family, management, and mental health. His theories have gained popularity not only in the United States where they are most commonly used in education, but also in the global arena. Glasser’s choice theory is all about being able to choose how to live happily, how to make better decisions that satisfy a person’s need, how to responsibly take action, and how to take control of one’s life.
This theory is all about living satisfactorily in order to lessen unhappiness, promote better relationships among people, and therefore eliminate mental illness in the world today. Sources: Furr, Lee W. and W. Hugh Furr. (2006, March 14). Choice Theory Psychology. [Electronic Document]. http://www. choicetheory. com/ The William Glasser Institute. (2006, May 11). Choice Theory. [Electronic Document]. http://www. wglasser. com/whatisct. htm Schneller, Peter L. (2005, August 30). Choice Theory. [Electronic Document]. http://raider. muc. edu/~schnelpl/Control Theory – Overhead. html
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