I am pleased to be writing to you about William Glasser, a psychiatrist who saw the world through different lenses than most psychologists and psychiatrists he trained with and worked with in the 1950’s and 60’s. Glasser’s keen sense of personal responsibility and empowerment certainly arose from his experience with those who felt compelled to attempt to control others around them to satisfy their basic needs.
An early recognition that people begin to believe in themselves when they take ownership for their feelings, choices, thoughts and actions propelled Glasser in the human potential movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. This effective counter to external control, this wave of psychology has forever changed the way we think about helping and influencing others.
This “Psychology of Internal Control”, takes an existential stance regarding who we are responsible to in our world. Glasser developed a very individual or “self” psychology initially focused on helping people evaluate their behavior based on whether or not their choices were effective in meeting their needs and not on what anyone else did or does, or believes. With only a couple of caveats that behavior that is responsible does not hurt anyone and does not interfere with someone else getting their needs met, the evaluation of behavior and creating more effective behaviors became the task of the new psychotherapy.
Although Reality Therapy has been seen as a useful model for implementing confrontation, it’s tenant that “all behavior is purposeful and the best we could do at the time to satisfy our basic needs that we all share” is quite non-judgemental and not diagnosed. In this therapy that seems to proport knowledge of what Reality is, actually defines it as something very relative to our own perception.
Ultimately Glasser realized the importance of this feedback loop he was onto. He discovered another psychiatrist, William Powers who pioneered this “feedback loop” psychology that has, in Glasser’s evolution of the ideas, become the widely used, Choice Theory.
I hope you join our dialogue about these great ideas as the science of psychology continues to develop in directions strangely reflective of Glasserian thought. He was a man beyond his time and the manifestations of his work in Reality Therapy, Quality Schools and Quality Management and now Counseling With Choice Theory are in practice all over the world.
Check out the William Glasser Institute (www.wglasserinternational.org)and the William Glasser Institute-US (www.wglasser.com) websites for more information. Or, if in our region, send me an e mail, I welcome your inquiries.
Bruce R. Allen, MSW, LCSW, Senior Faculty and Board of Directors Member, William Glasser Institute-US.