Choice Theory

The "quality" in QLNB’s name refers to our commitment to and excitement about Choice Theory and its applications. Choice Theory is an approach to mental health care developed by Dr. William Glasser. According to Choice Theory, each of us has "quality world" pictures - pictures of satisfied needs and wants, of the way we wish life could be - which we contrast with our "perceived world" pictures. We act in order to close the gap we see between the way we think things are (perceived world) and the way we want them to be (quality world). How we chose to act depends on things like our beliefs, values and experiences. In this sense, all of our thoughts and actions, both of which Glasser calls "behaviour," have a purpose.

Unfortunately, not all of our behaviour is effective in closing the gaps we see between our quality world and our perceived worlds. This is especially the case when we try to force our perceptions and behaviours on people who matter to us at home, in school or at work. This sort of ineffective behaviour can weaken or destroy our all-important human relationships and undermine our best intentions. When we persist in ineffective behaviours, not only do we not see things getting better (we don't see the gap closing), but we often see things getting worse.

In the short term, the results of this ineffective behaviour are negative emotions like unhappiness, anger, sadness, stress, resentment and so on. Over the longer term, negative emotions can spill over into our physical health and show up in a range of problems from headaches and back pain to ulcers and heart attacks. This link between thought, deed, mind and body is referred to in Choice Theory as "total behaviour."

Choice Theory is way of thinking about, and acting in, the world that is designed to reduce these negative emotions and symptoms; as well as to improve our relationships at home, school or work. It helps us to more clearly see our own perceived world and quality world pictures; and to realize that others likely have different pictures in their heads. It helps us spot our less effective behaviours, and come up with new, more effective ways to close the gap. In short, it helps us make choices that lead to happier, healthier lives.

Reality Therapy is an application of Choice Theory in which counselors or psychiatrists help clients learn about their own behaviour and make more effective choices for meeting their own needs while not damaging their relationships with others.

Quality Schools is an application of Choice Theory in which administrators, teachers and students act creatively to reduce ineffective behaviours and produce environments and relationships which foster learning.

Lead Management is an application of Choice Theory in which managers create a culture that allows employees to choose more effective and satisfying behaviours within the confines of their workplace.

Select Bibliography

Glasser, W. (2003). Warning: psychiatry can be hazardous to your mental health. New York: HarperCollins.

Glasser, W. (2000). Every student can succeed. California: Black Forest Press.

Glasser, W. (2000). Reality therapy in action. New York: HarperCollins.

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Glasser, W. (1994). The control theory manager: Combining the control theory of William Glasser with the wisdom of W. Edwards Deming to explain both what quality is and what lead-managers do to achieve it. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Glasser, W. (1992). The quality school: Managing students without coercion, 2nd edition. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Glasser, W. (1990). Reality therapy: A new approach to psychiatry. New York, NY: HarperCollins. (First published in hardcover in 1965 by Harper and Row, NY.)

Pierce, Kenneth L. (2007). Using lead management on purpose: Creating excellent products and services for a global economy. New York: iUniverse, Inc.

On The Web

BHI Bob Hoglund Inc.

Choice Theory Psychology

European Association for Reality Therapy

Glasser Canada

International Journal of Reality Therapy (Back Issues)

The William Glasser Institute

William Glasser Institute Ireland 

William Glasser International

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