Posts tagged “counseling

William Glasser: A Life to Celebrate

Bill and Carleen Glasser (2007)

Bill and Carleen Glasser (2007)

William Glasser passed away on August 23, 2013. He was 88 years.

As an every-man psychiatrist, Glasser was appreciated by people around the world for his views on mental health and his strategies for counselors and especially educators. A progressive before it was in fashion to be progressive, he rejected commonly held beliefs that blamed mental disease for people’s behavior and instead described methods whereby people could recognize their own role in returning to wellness.

Glasser’s ideas on mental health began to form in the late 1950s when he worked with veterans in a mental hospital in Los Angeles and with delinquent teenage girls in a prison school. He burst onto a national stage, though, when he published Reality Therapy in 1965, and then Schools Without Failure in 1969. Reality Therapy was like a psychiatric shot heard around the world and he began to receive a lot of attention, especially from those working within the helping professions — counselors, social workers, corrections officers, addiction clinics, and especially teachers.

Reality therapy went on to become one of the main talking therapy options that future therapists learned about in degree programs and established Glasser as one of the most well-known psychiatrists in the world. He believed that the concept that people suffer from a mental illness was actually a road block to effective treatment, rather than being a help. Glasser wanted to compassionately help people become stronger and more responsible. To that end, reality therapy emphasized the need for a warm, caring relationship between therapist and patient; was built on the belief that people are capable of becoming responsible for their behavior; focused on the present and future, rather than the past; focused on present, conscious thinking and behavior, rather than trying to discover “unconscious” thought patterns; and desired to teach patients ways to fulfill their own needs within an effective (personal) moral framework. It was a groundbreaking approach that ultimately led to many others also building on the site that he began.

School principals and teachers recognized something special in reality therapy that could make a positive difference in the lives of students and when Glasser received a large grant to improve public education in 1967 the Educator Training Center was established and he embarked on a lifelong quest to show educators the importance of providing a need-satisfying environment for students. Of his 23 books, five of them were exclusively school related.

Glasser came to be known for control theory, the theory that he felt explained why reality therapy was so effective. Control theory described how people are internally motivated and are always acting in a way that they think will best meet their needs, which may even include choosing to be miserable. He became known for his emphasis on the idea that the only person we can control is ourself. Mental health, or happiness, is maintained as a person learns to stop trying to control others behavior and instead learns how to form and keep good relationships with the important people in his life. Glasser liked the details of control theory, but not the label, and in 1996 he changed the label to choice theory, which he felt more accurately described the essence of his beliefs.

Glasser was a prolific writer and lecturer and leaves behind a body of work–23 books, multiple booklets, and many, many journal articles– that will provide support and challenge traditional approaches for years to come. Besides eight active regional organizations throughout the U.S., the Glasser Institute also has a presence in more than 20 countries on six continents. Australia is one of the countries that has especially embraced Glasser’s ideas.

Glasser became a board-certified psychiatrist in 1961, and while he was well known in the popular press, he was not embraced by his own field. Writing books like Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (2003) may have something to do with that. Being progressive has a price. Yet, even though he was somewhat ignored within psychiatry, toward the end of his career he received a great deal of official appreciation. In 2003 Glasser received the Professional Development Award from the American Counseling Association for his significant contributions to the field of counseling. The following year the ACA conferred to him the Legend in Counseling Award for his development of reality therapy. In 2005, along with being one of the faculty for the esteemed Evolution of Psychotherapy conference, he was presented the prestigious Master Therapist designation by the American Psychotherapy Association. He received two honorary doctorates–one from the University of San Francisco in 1990 and the other from Pacific Union College in 2006.  And in May, 2013, Glasser was officially recognized by the California state senate for a lifetime of achievements and his meritorious service to humanity.

Glasser was preceded in death by his first wife, Naomi, and his son, Joe. He is survived by his wife, soul mate, and co-author, Carleen; and his daughter, Alice, and son, Martin; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; as well as his brother, Henry, and sister, Janet. He is survived, too, by the many who heard him talk and read his books and articles and who, in some small way, felt like they were his soul mate as well. To his loved ones and close friends, and to every one of his “survivors” — Here’s to a life of choice!

———————————————-

What could be added to this tribute to make it even better? What did I leave out?

———————————————

Thank you to those of you who responded to the initial announcement of Bill’s passing away. Some very heartfelt and eloquent thoughts were expressed in those comments.

———————————————-

If you haven’t, I hope you’ll take a moment and sign up to follow The Better Plan blog. It’s also easy to register for WordPress, which then allows you to click on the LIKE button of blogs you appreciate. I think this would be especially good for the blogs about Glasser’s passing away. WordPress is the biggest of all blog sites and a blog like this one being LIKED by a large number of people would alert  a huge blogging community to the life and work of William Glasser.

Hey! It works!

A teacher shares what happened recently when he had the opportunity to use the conferencing skills he learned earlier this summer.

This summer I had the privilege of taking the Soul Shaper 1 & 2 class at Pacific Union College.  After doing so and reading a number of Glasser books, I was extremely interested in putting conferencing into practice.  We did a number of role plays in class to prepare for a conference, but there is something exciting about leading out in a real life scenario.

I received a call from a close friend about a relationship issue he was experiencing.  He was looking for some advice from me, so I told him to meet me at a local coffee shop.  On my way to our meeting, I thought back to the role plays in class and the acronym WDEP came to mind.  After reminding myself what each letter stood for, (W – What do you want, D- What are you doing? E- Evaluate if it is working, and P- The plan) I convinced myself that this would be the ideal time to practice what I had learned.

After breaking the ice a bit over coffee, I finally began our dialogue by asking him what was on his mind.  He gave me a long version of his dilemma, which was whether or not he should break up with his girlfriend.  He was quick to blame this dilemma on his significant other, telling me how he didn’t like how she did such and such. I listened carefully and after he was through I simply asked him, well what do you want right now?  He looked at me, kind of perplexed and asked me what I meant.  I asked him again, “deep down, what is it that you feel you need right now? I know we are here about the relationship, but that aside, what do you want?” He thought a bit, I sipped some coffee trying to keep myself from talking to break the silence.  Finally he spoke up and began to paint a picture that depicted freedom to me.  After he was through, I said, “would it be safe to say that what you need right now is freedom?” He assured me that this is what he needed.  I then asked him if he could find this freedom in his current relationship.  Without much thought he told me no. To make sure, I asked him what it would take to gain the freedom that he felt he needed and again asked if there was any way the relationship could still work with this need.  He assured me that he did not think he could get the freedom he needed while maintaining the relationship.  I then reminded him about the blame he put on his significant other for the current conflict.   I asked him, “Could it be that deep down you have wanted out of this relationship for awhile and you were waiting for a good excuse to end it?”  At this point he looked at me and told me that I was “freaking him out”.  He thought I was reading his mind or something.  We joked a bit and then continued on.  He agreed that this was indeed the case, but he was worried that if he broke things off he may not find someone else that had some of the traits he appreciated about her.  We worked through the process again a bit and he came to the conclusion that he needed to end the relationship.  We role played how that would look and talked about blame and how destructive that could be. He agreed and we were able to talk out what a break up might look like.

I don’t want to say that this experience went perfectly. I talked a bit more then I have expressed here and wish I could have been better at listening, but overall I saw that he had self-evaluated which made for a very rewarding experience for me, and hopefully for him.

——————————————-

The story above reminds us that we experience problem-solving conferencing opportunities in many normal, every day moments. We can use WDEP conferencing skills as teachers and principals, but we can also tap into WDEP skills as parents and friends. The above story also seems to embody the definition of problem-solving conferencing – that being

Slide1

A lot of us are well-intentioned “fixers” who quickly start sharing advice and solutions when our student, colleague, or friend really just wants someone to listen and help them figure things out. The concept of self-evaluation is hugely important in the choice theory scheme of things. Whether it relates to academic performance and grading or to conferencing with a student regarding a behavior at school, the student’s ability to self-evaluate is the key. The KEY! We can count on this reality as surely as we can count on the law of gravity or the sun coming up in the morning. There is no getting around it. We can advise, direct, order, prescribe, or even threaten, but until a student comes to understand and acknowledge the situation for himself our efforts will lead to frustration and a strained relationship.

When we can non-judgmentally ask WDEP questions the results are frequently amazing! Often, people just need a little help thinking through things on their own and coming up with a plan of their own creation.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: