Language of Choice Theory and Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Moreover, all psychological problems are based on dysfunctional relationships; therefore, change must occur in the arena of personal connections (the William Glasser Institute, 2010).

g. What is the role of cognitions or thoughts?

According to Glasser, thoughts are just one aspect of "Total Behavior," which includes "acting, thinking, feeling, and physiology" (the William Glasser Institute, 2010). All human behavior is Total Behavior, and all human behavior is chosen. However, acting and thinking are the only two components of behavior a person can directly control. Therefore, a patient must indirectly control their feelings and physiology by directly controlling their thoughts and behaviors (Glasser & Glasser, 2010).

IV. What specific techniques are used in this theory?

Choice theory is based primarily on "Seven Caring Habits" and "Ten Axioms" (the William Glasser Institute, 2010). The Seven Caring Habits are: "supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences" with creativity (the William Glasser Institute, 2010). The Ten Axioms are: we can only control our own behavior, we can only offer information, all chronic mental health issues stem from relationship issues, the relationship issue at fault is always occurring in the present, what happened in the past affects who we are today but the only way to solve current problems is to change current behaviors, we must create a "Quality World" for ourselves and satisfy our needs by satisfying "the pictures in our Quality World," "all we do is behave," all behavior is Total Behavior, "all Total Behavior is chosen" but we can only directly control our actions and thoughts, and "all Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable" (the William Glasser Institute, 2010).

V. What current resources are available for training in the theory?

The William Glasser Institute offers two main training programs: the "choice theory / reality therapy certification" (CT/RTC), and "faculty training" (the William Glasser Institute, 2010). CT/RTC takes 18 months and consists of five steps: basic training, basic practicum, advanced training, advanced practicum, and final certification (the William Glasser Institute, 2010). Basic intensive training is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about personal choice and relationship building.

VI. Personal Application

a. How would you apply the theory?

In my practice, I would apply the theory as my main premise. In other words, rather than approaching treatment in terms of the past, symptoms, complaints, or medication, I would focus on what the patient can do to improve his or her own present relationships. In an open and non-judgmental manner, I would as the patient to creatively think of ways that he or she could change their relationships by changing their behavior -- specifically their thoughts and actions.

b. Your reaction to the book: What did you like/dislike about the book and theory?

I enjoyed the book because of its multiple, practical, real-life examples of replacing external control speech with caring, choice theory language in parent-child, husband-wife, boss-employee, and teacher-student relationships. The book was rather short and to the point -- which is one feature of choice theory that I like -- it is simple, straightforward, and highly practical. However, I did need to consult the William Glasser website in order to gain a real understanding of choice theory and how it is applied beyond just language constructs.

Overall, I have no problems with the theory. I believe it is very well thought out, makes absolute sense, and in no way could harm or inhibit successful patient treatment. The only reservation I have is that there may be very extreme cases in which a patient is so set in destructive relationships, thought patterns, and/or actions, that more intensive intervention may be necessary at first, such as hospitalization. I would not recommend medication even in these cases, however, since it is habit-forming and sends the opposite message of what choice theory is all about: only you can make yourself better.


Erwin, J. (2004). The Classroom of Choice: Giving Students What They Need and Getting What You Want. . Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Glasser, W., & Glasser, C. (2010). The Language of Choice Theory. HarperCollins ebook.

The William Glasser…

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