The term choice theory is the work of William Glasser, MD, author of the book so named, and is the culmination of some 50 years of theory and practice in psychology and counseling. Choice Theory posits that behavior is central to our existence and is driven by five genetically driven needs, similar to those of Abraham Maslow:

Choice Theory posits the existence of a “Quality World.” The phrase “Quality World” represents a person’s total outlook and understanding of the world around them as it relates to people, possessions, beliefs, etc. Starting from birth and continuing throughout our lives, we place the people who are important to us, things we prize, and systems of belief (religion, cultural values, and icons, etc.) within the framework of our “Quality World.” Glasser also posits a “Comparing Place” in which we compare and contrast our real world experiences against our Quality World perspective. We behave to achieve as best we can a real world experience consistent with our Quality World.

Five Basic Needs
  • Survival (food, clothing, shelter, breathing, personal safety and others) and four fundamental psychological needs:
  • Belonging/connecting/love
  • Power/significance/competence
  • Freedom/autonomy, and
  • Fun/learning

“If everyone could learn that what is right for me does not make it right for anyone else, the world would be a much happier place.”

Behavior (“Total Behavior” in Glasser’s terms) is made up of these four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology. Glasser suggests that we have considerable control or choice over the first two of these, and little ability to directly choose the latter two. As these four components are closely intertwined, the choices we make in our thinking and acting greatly affect our feeling and physiology.

The source of much unhappiness is the failing or failed relationships with those who are important to us: spouses, parents, children, friends & colleagues. The symptoms of unhappiness are widely variable and are often seen as mental illness. Glasser believes that ”
Choice Theory posits that most mental illness is, in fact, an expression of unhappiness and that we are able to learn how to choose alternate behaviors that will result in greater satisfaction. Reality Therapy is the Choice Theory-based counseling process focussed on helping clients to learn to make those choices.pleasure” and “happiness” are related but are far from synonymous. Sex, for example, is a “pleasure” but may well be divorced from a “satisfactory relationship” which is a precondition for lasting “happiness” in life. Hence the intense focus on the improvement of relationships in counselling with Choice Theory—the “new Reality Therapy”.

Choice Theory: 7 Connecting Habits

Choice theory, with the Seven Caring Habits, replaces external control psychology and the Seven Deadly Habits. External control, the present psychology of almost all people in the world, is destructive to relationships. When used, it will destroy the ability of one or both to find satisfaction in that relationship and will result in a disconnection from each other. Being disconnected is the source of almost all human problems such as what is called mental illness, drug addiction, violence, crime, school failure, spousal abuse, to mention a few.

By understanding the basis of our connecting or disconnecting habits. We being to ask our-self this, will what I say or do bring us closer or push us further apart?