Choice Theory/Reality Therapy (CT/RT)

Choice Theory and Reality Therapy are the products of the work of Dr. William Glasser, MD. Over the past 50 years Dr. Glasser has been writing and promoting the concepts of personal responsibility and the making of effective choices. 


Choice Theory is a theory that describes individual behaviors and puts them into a context that is easily understood and applied. This context is referred to as TOTAL BEHAVIOR. Total Behavior is comprised of Needs, Perceptions, Wants and Physiology. Understanding the interplay of these concepts is critical to making effective decisions and positive changes.


Dr. Glasser puts RELATIONSHIPS at the top of both effective and ineffective behaviors.  If we have effective positive relationships in our life we will have positive effective lives.  Lacking effective positive relationships results in less positive and productive lives.


There are Ten (10) Axioms that guide Choice Theorists:


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.


While the above is a very very short synopsis of Choice Theory it does give the reader the basic elements.  Once Choice Theory, the concept, is understood and embraced it becomes a way of life.  Living a life of Choice Theory enhances every other part of our lives including our Faith Lives, Family Lives and Work Lives.




Reality Therapy


Reality Therapy is the therapeutic arm of Choice TheoryChoice Theory addresses why we do what we do, Reality Therapy addresses what  and how we do what we do.


The core element of Reality Therapy is centered around a counseling technique.  Once trained anyone can apply the principles of this technique and it is not limited to counselors only.  Dr. Glasser in promoting individual responsibility would argue that everyone should apply these techniques in everyday situations and not just in counseling sessions.


Dr. Robert Wubbolding, PhD developed the acronym of WDEP to help new students to CT/RT understand the questioning procedure.


  • ·    W = your Wants. What are you looking for or what do you Want?

  • ·    D = what are you currently Doing to get what you Want?

  • ·    E = Evaluate what you are doing to see if it works.

  • ·    P = make a Plan to change your behavior to something more effective.


As with Choice Theory the above only covers the simplest elements of the approach. Full understanding comes from training, guidance and practice.


Choice Theory/Reality Therapy Training


Training in the concepts and applications of CT/RT comes in the form of attending workshops presented by facilitators/trainers endorsed by the William Glasser Institute.  Training usually takes the following form:


  • ·        Basic Intensive Training of 24-32 hours  with endorsed trainer

  • ·        6 month practice period with an endorsed supervisor

  • ·        Advanced or 2nd Intensive Training of 24-32 hours with endorsed trainer

  • ·        6 month practice period with  and endorsed supervisor

  • ·        Endorsement Training 24-32 hours sponsored by the Institute


A person does not have to complete the full sequence and most typically choose only to compete the first two steps. Counselors, Educators and other Mental Health Professionals will choose the full sequence of training.