Humanistic orientation in psychotherapy, Which has emerged as a “third force” in the face of the predominance of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, promotes the conception of people as beings oriented towards good, individual development, the recognition of their own strengths, creativity, present moment adoption.
In addition to Person-Centered Therapy by Carl Rogers, Psychodrama by Jacob Levy Moreno, Gestalt Therapy by Fritz Perls, or Existential Psychotherapy by Abraham Maslow, among this set of therapeutic interventions we find lesser known ones. , as reality therapy developed by William Glasser.
Biography of William Glasser
Psychiatrist William Glasser (1925-2013) was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Although at the age of 20, he graduated in chemical engineering and devoted some time to this profession, he subsequently chose to focus on his true vocation: human life. In 1949 he obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology and, in 1953, his doctorate in psychiatry.
Glasser completed his studies working with WWII veteransA task which he continued to pursue until he was expelled from the hospital of the Veterans Administration for his opposition to the ideas of Freud, which predominated on the board of directors of this institution. .
He then worked with girls with criminal behavior problems; around this time he began to develop the ideas that would make him a famous author. In 1957, he opened a private psychotherapeutic clinic in Los Angeles, California, where he would work until 1986. As his career developed, Glasser began to focus on teaching and awareness.
In 1965 he developed his most famous contribution: reality therapy, An intervention that is part of humanistic psychology and focuses on the acceptance of reality by people dissatisfied with the current conditions of their life. For Glasser, the heart of therapeutic change is the human ability to decide.
The theory of selection
In the late 1970s, Glasser developed his theory of human behavior, which he eventually called “choice theory”. His work was based on the contributions of William T. Powers, with the point of view clearly identified after becoming familiar with it.
The nuclear idea of Glasser’s selection theory is that the dissatisfaction of people with their interpersonal relationships is due to the biological need to have power over others and to force them to do what they want. The purpose of his theoretical contributions was to help people respect each other.
The theory of selection proposes the existence of a “World of Quality” in our mind. These are images of our personal conceptions of relationships, beliefs, possessions, etc. which we consider to be ideals. This world of quality develops over the course of life from the interiorization of aspects of reality.
Glasser stated that we constantly and subconsciously compare perceptions of the world with idealized images, similar to the Jungian archetypes that make up the world of quality. Each individual seeks to make his life experience consistent with what he considers the model to be achieved.
Glasser’s selection theory is completed by the 10 axioms described by this author:
- 1. We can only control our own behavior, not that of others.
- 2. We can only give information to other people.
- 3. All persistent psychological problems are relational in nature.
- 4. The problematic relationship is still a part of our life today.
- 5. Although the past determines our way of being, we can only meet our present and future needs.
- 6. To meet our needs, we must meet the world’s images of quality.
- 7. All we do as people is behavior.
- 8. The “Total Behavior” consists of four components: performance, thinking, emotion and physiology.
- 9. We have only direct control over action and thought; the change of these indirectly influences the modification of emotion and physiology.
- 10. Total behavior is denoted by verbs which refer to their most easily identifiable characteristics.
William Glasser’s reality therapy aims to achieve specific goals through problem solving and make the right decisions. It is about helping the client achieve their personal goals by analyzing their current behaviors and modifying those that interfere with the goals.
This psychotherapy focuses on the present moment and improving conditions for the future; this runs counter to the strategies of most clinical interventions that existed at the time of the emergence of reality therapy, which were primarily concerned with the person’s past and personal history.
Glasser described five basic needs: love and belonging, power, survival, freedom and pleasure. The therapist must collaborate with the client so that he can meet these needs; according to this author, people seeking therapeutic help for this purpose reject the reality in which they are immersed.
Thus, Glasser attributed the psychological and emotional problems to the unsatisfactory results of client behaviors, and not to the fact that the social and legal context, or the personal demands of the person, can be overly strict. The therapeutic emphasis is on what is under the client’s control.
Therefore, for Glasser the “cure” for discontent is taking responsibility, Maturity and conscience superior to those which exist today. Therapeutic success would be linked to the fact that the client stops rejecting reality and understands that he will only achieve satisfaction by working on himself.