Choice theory


Choice theory is an approach developed by psychiatrist, psychotherapists and educator. it is based on the theory that we are products of the past, but we do not have to continue being victims. Our present perceptions influence our behaviour, changing it is the key to how we feel and obtain what we want.

All humans have five basic needs that everyone want. They are:

POWER:          ie achieving goals, winning and feeling worthwhile.

LOVE AND BELONGING:      that is being part of family and other groups of friends or loved ones.

FREEDOM:      having your own space and feeling independent and in control of your life.

FUN:                pleasure and enjoyment

SURVIVAL:    including food, shelter protection from elements and sex.

The core of reality therapy are emotions, they tell us how we are doing. Are we happy with our life and situation, in the present context,here and now. These emotions cannot be changed at will. Though we can change our thinking and do what we can rather than do what someone else thinks we ought to do.

To get what we want from life it is essential to empower ourselves and stop playing victims.

The three root questions arise.

  • What do we want in our lives
  • What are we doing to get it.
  • Is our plan and method actually working.

The counsellor helps the client formulate a plan concentrating on the things that they can control,

If the spouse is does not initiate romance and conversation then the client could do it.

There are options of leaving an abusive spouse, or discontinuing to be a maid to kids who mistreat you.This is empowering and the client feels less victimized.  To presume that others control you is to let them control you, blaming others for your unhappiness or failure could keep you in the right, but it is only you who change you life by taking charge of it.

Choice Theory/Reality therapy is often used for people who are depressed. It understands that sometimes, depression has its positive aspects, like preventing extreme anger and acting the anger out. As long we can over the depression.

Glassner—four things to learn from depression. In turn it can help us change what we want or how we act these things are listed :

A for anger it energizes us for change or to stand up for what we believe. It can also be destructive and have  disastrous consequences both on the self and relations. As long as depression does not lead to the extreme of suicide or debilitating of the spirit is less damaging than anger.

C is for control. We can use to gain sympathy and control others without risk taking or confrontation. The pay off is we get pander and taken care of. The bottom line is depression is a deep spiritual pain.

H is for help  we get from friends, medical providers without asking for it, as it is obvious that we are in trouble.

E is our excuse to avoid responsibilities, work, pain and in general doing what we need to do.  The CTRT counsellor would show that we have the options to carry on our responsibilities and begin to pull ourselves out of the deep hole of depression.

This can be summed in the acronym ACHE

the best way to take control of our lives is by taking actions, by making choices to move  on. It would be necessary to recognize, accept, and change our thinking inspired by which we take different actions that lead us to a different destination one of our choice.

Relationships and our habits.

Seven caring habits

Seven deadly habits

Supporting Criticizing
Encouraging Blaming
Listening Complaining
Accepting Nagging
Trusting Threatening
Respecting Punishing
Negotiating differences. Bribing, rewarding to control.


  • The only person whose behaviour we can control is our own
  • All we can give another person is information
  • All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
  • The problem relationship is always part of our present life
  • What happened in the past has everything to with what are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future
  • We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our quality world
  • All we do is behave
  • All behaviour is total behaviour made up of four components acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
  • All total behaviour is chosen but we have only direct control over the acting and thinking components.we can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how e choose to act and think.
  • All total behaviour is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.

Choice theory reality and perception

Though we do live in a real world, we behave based on what we perceive to be real. Whether we are right or wrong. All our information passes through three distinct filters as we create our perception of reality:

  • The sensory filter
  • The knowledge filter
  • The value filter.

Eg: Obama is the president of USA is a fact, he is good/bad/ugly is our perception

Comparing place:

Our brain continuously compares two images.

  • Our perception of reality
  • Our quality world picture of what we want at that moment

We are constantly trying to match between what we want and what we perceive. A mismatch causes discomfort and we automatically search for newer behaviour to match what we seek.

Total behaviour:

All behaviour has four components

  • Acting
  • Thinking
  • Feeling
  • Physiology

Changing one component of behaviour changes the other components as well.  Acting and thinking are the easiest to change. While Physiology and feelings are impossible to change directly.

Effective teaching, or management is identifying the quality pictures and motivate the individual to achieve them.

  • Keep coercion minimum
  • Focus on quality
  • Self evaluation

This article is based on the Choice Theory and Reality therapy designed by Dr.William Glasser.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s