Reality Therapy By William Glasser

The humanistic orientation in psychotherapywhich emerged as a “third force” in the face of the predominance of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, promotes the conception of people as beings oriented towards good, individual development, recognition of one’s own strengths, creativity, the adoption of responsibilities and experience of the present moment.

In addition to the person-centered therapy of Carl Rogers, the psychodrama of Jacob Levy Moreno, the gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, or the existential psychotherapy of Abraham Maslow, among this set of therapeutic interventions we find some less known, such as reality therapy developed by William Glasser.

William Glasser Biography

Psychiatrist William Glasser (1925-2013) was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Although at the age of 20 he graduated in Chemical Engineering and dedicated himself to this profession for a time, he subsequently chose to focus on his true vocation: human life. In 1949 he completed a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and in 1953 he received a doctorate in Psychiatry.

Glasser completed his studies working with World War II veteransa task to which he continued to dedicate himself until he was expelled from the Veterans Administration Hospital for his opposition to Freud’s ideas, which predominated among the directors of this institution.

Later she worked with girls with delinquent behavior problems; At this time he began to develop the ideas that would make him a famous author. In 1957 he opened a private psychotherapeutic clinic in Los Angeles, California, where he would work until 1986. As his career progressed, Glasser began to focus on teaching and outreach.

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In 1965 he developed His best-known contribution: Reality Therapy (or “Reality Therapy”), an intervention that is framed in humanistic psychology and focuses on the acceptance of reality by people dissatisfied with the current conditions of their lives. For Glasser, the core of therapeutic change is the human capacity to decide.

The theory of selection

In the late 1970s Glasser developed his theory of human behavior, which he eventually called “Selection Theory” (“Choice Theory” in English). His work was based on the contributions of William T. Powers, with whose point of view he clearly identified after becoming familiar with it.

The core idea of ​​Glasser’s selection theory is that people’s dissatisfaction with their interpersonal relationships is due to the biological need to have power over others and force them to do what they want. The objective of his theoretical contributions was to help people respect each other.

The theory of selection proposes the existence of a “World of Quality” in our minds. This consists of images about our personal conceptions of relationships, beliefs, possessions, etc. that we consider ideal. This World of Quality develops during life from the internalization of aspects of reality.

Glasser stated that we constantly and unconsciously compare perceptions of the world with the idealized images, similar to Jungian archetypes, that make up the World of Quality. Each individual ensures that his or her life experience is consistent with what he or she considers to be the model to achieve.

Glasser’s selection theory is completed with the 10 axioms described by this author:

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Reality Therapy

William Glasser’s reality therapy aims to achievement of specific goals through problem solving and making the right decisions. It is about helping the client achieve their personal goals by analyzing their current behaviors and modifying those that interfere with the goals.

This psychotherapy focuses on the present moment and improving the conditions of the future; This is opposed to the strategies of a good part of the clinical interventions that existed at the time when Reality Therapy emerged, which were primarily interested in the person’s past and personal history.

Glasser described five basic needs: love and belonging, power, survival, freedom and fun. The therapist must collaborate with the client so that he can satisfy these needs; According to this author, people who seek therapeutic help with this objective reject the reality in which they find themselves immersed.

Thus, Glasser attributed psychological and emotional problems to the unsatisfactory results of clients’ behaviors, and not to the fact that the social and legal context, or the person’s own self-demands, may be excessively strict. Therapeutic emphasis is placed on what is under the client’s control.

Therefore, for Glasser The “cure” for dissatisfaction is the assumption of responsibilities, maturity and awareness greater than those that exist today. Therapeutic success would be related to the fact that the client stops rejecting reality and understands that he will only achieve satisfaction by working on himself.