Reality Therapy in Action / Edition 1

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Overview

"Dr. Glasser's therapy is based on inescapable truths: Meaningful relationships are central to the good life, the choices we make will determine their quality, and we can only create them if we take responsibility for ourselves without controlling the other person. His vivid stories and dialogues illustrate how to go about creating a good life." — From the foreword by Peter Breggin, M.D.

In this long-awaited continuation of his most successful book, Reality Therapy, Dr. William Glasser takes readers into his consulting room and illustrates through a series of conversations with his patients, exactly how he puts his popular therapeutic theories into practice.

Dr. Glasser introduces us to among others:

  • Jerry, who is trying to overcome his obsessive-complusive disorder,
  • Bea and Jim, a couple who want to rebuild their relationship after Jim's affair, and
  • Roger, an alcoholic in desperate need of a meaningful relationship

These vivid, almost novelistic case histories bring Dr. Glasser's new version of this therapy to life, and show readers how to get rid of the controlling, punishing, i know what's right for you psychology that crops up in most situations when. people face conflict with one another.

Practical and readable, Reality Therapy in Action is Dr. Glasser's most accessible book in years.

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Editorial Reviews

Gerald Corey
I appreciate Dr. Glasser's elaboration on the theme of creating satisfying relationships in our lives. I particularly like the existential emphasis on the roles of choice and responsibility. This book reinforces the notion that we do have choices and that we contribute to our degree of happiness by how we think and act in our present-day living.
Albert Ellis
I greatly enjoyed reading Reality Therapy in Action, and think it one of the most creative books on psychotherapy ever written. . . . I especially recommend some of the main things he does, such as marital and parental therapy. They are most effective and deserve to be widely copied by therapists.
Jeffrey K. Zeig
When one chooses the road's beginning, one chooses a destination. An inspiring trailblazer with a wealth of practical information and timeless wisdom, William Glasser is one of history's preeminent psychotherapists. In Reality Therapy in Action he maps an easy route for those in pain to reclaim direction, to reclaim their desired destinations.
Jon Carlson
'It is what you choose to do in a relationship, not what others choose to do, that is the heart of reality therapy.' This quote perhaps best summarizes Dr. Glasser's break from external control psychology and emphasis on choice and responsibility. This book focuses on relationships and provides insight into the mind of one of psychotherapy's giants. The pragmatic writing style allows one to not only learn about reality therapy but also about life.
Daya Singh Sandhu
In Reality Therapy in Action Glasser reaches the zenith of his tapestry of counseling art. The remarkable simplicity, the stunning eloquence, and down-to-earth practicality are the rare hallmarks of this icon in the counseling field. It is well worth the serious examination of scholars and practitioners alike.
Gary G. Forrest
William Glasser is a brilliant therapist, and he has written another brilliant book. The case-study format that he has developed with this work allows the reader to feel as though he or she is experiencing and participating in the therapy sessions. . . . Dr. Glasser writes like a novelist, playwright, or short story author, but most important, he clearly explains the basic precepts of choice theory and reality therapy and shows the reader how these constructs can be used in real therapy sessions to help real people change their behavior and their lives.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this plainspoken, welcome follow-up to his 1965 bestseller Reality Therapy, no-nonsense psychiatrist Glasser revisits some familiar psychological terrain and presents a series of candid chats with composite characters closely drawn from his patients. His reality theory emphasizes the importance of conscious choice and personal responsibility as effective alternatives to drugs or electroshock therapy for redirecting the destructive behaviors often labeled as mental illness. Glasser repeatedly stresses the importance to his clients of meaningful, loving relationships to sustaining good emotional and mental health; those clients include a teenage girl infatuated with promiscuity, a suicidal husband who dreams of becoming the woman he sees when he looks in the mirror, a battered wife fearful of freedom, a potentially explosive teenage boy raised on harsh words and cruelty, and an obsessive-compulsive man transfixed with his similarity to the nasty Jack Nicholson character in the film As Good as It Gets. Wasting no time on exploring dreams or childhood trauma, Glasser hones in on the obstacles to each patient's intimate relationships or normal functioning. While some of the results are extremely positive, not all of the conflicts are resolved favorably or predictably. Taking an unromanticized look at our modern phobias and manias, Glasser offers sharp insights into how making rational, effective choices can heal the mind and soul. 25-city radio campaign. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060195359
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

William Glasser, M.D., is a world-renowned psychiatrist who lectures widely. His numerous books have sold 1.7 million copies, and he has trained thousands of counselors in his Choice Theory and Reality Therapy approaches. He is also the president of the William Glasser Institute in Los Angeles.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Jerry


. . . it is what you choose to do in a relationship, not what others choose to do, that is the heart of reality therapy.


In the movie As Good As It Gets, the lead character, Melvin Udall, portrayed by Jack Nicholson, is a textbook illustration of what is known as the mental illness obsessive-compulsive disorder, over which he has no control. But, following choice theory, I do not believe that Melvin is suffering from a mental illness or that he has no control over what he is doing. I believe he is choosing to obsess and compulse to deal with what is so obvious from the beginning of the film: He has no satisfying close relationships. To have any chance to lead a rewarding life, he, like all of us, needs at least one satisfying relationship.

When we fail in the effort to connect with other people, as Melvin surely has, we suffer because the need to do so is as much built into our genes as the need to survive. Almost all the pain or abnormality associated with the choices that are commonly called mental illness are a genetic warning: We are not involved in a relationship that satisfies what our genes demand.

When we suffer any pain, mental or physical, our brain does not let us sit idly by and do nothing; we must try to do something to reduce the pain. What is called mental illness is a description of the ways in which huge numbers of people, such as Melvin Udall, choose to deal with the pain of their loneliness or disconnection. In Melvin's case, the choice is mostly to obsess and compulse, a choice so commonplace it has been wrongly labeled a mental illness for at leasta hundred years.

But, inadequate as obsessing and compulsing (or any other symptom we choose) may be to help us reconnect, it is always our best choice at the time to fulfill one or more of five needs built into our genetic structure: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. At the moment we choose any behavior, we believe that any other choice would be less effective; what we choose is the best choice at the time we choose it. When we say we shouldn't do it and then go ahead and do it, we suspect it won't be effective—but not enough to stop us from choosing to do it.

Choice theory explains the whole mechanism of genetic needs, the pain associated with their frustration, and the choices we make to deal with this frustration. In this book that theory is put into practice as reality therapy. I have been teaching and continuing to improve this method of counseling since I first developed it in 1962. In 1965 I wrote the book Reality Therapy, a method of counseling now taught all over the world.

But the 1965 book did not have a theoretical base; this book explains that choice theory is that theoretical base. It includes many improvements over the original, an important step in keeping the process current. For variety, throughout this book I use the terms counseling, therapy, and psychotherapy interchangeably because I believe they are different ways of describing the same activity.

As stated, to cope with the pain of his disconnected life, Melvin is choosing an assortment of obsessive and compulsive behaviors that are his attempt—often unsuccessful—to restrain the anger that he immediately chooses whenever he has to deal with people he finds frustrating. When the movie begins, he seems unaware of this anger and its danger to both himself and others. But he surely knows that he, like all of us, needs love and belonging because he plays a character who writes bestselling romantic novels.

His symptoms are classic for the compulsive person he chooses to be. Melvin is so afraid of germs that he uses a new bar of soap each time he washes his hands, and he washes them many times a day. He also has a compulsive routine he goes through each time he locks and unlocks the four locks that secure the front door to his apartment. But the most obvious of his symptoms is the huge effort he makes to avoid stepping on cracks, which in a city like New York is almost a full-time occupation. He is also a particularly nasty man who verbally abuses anyone who frustrates him.

In a believable way, the movie shows him trying to relate to Karen, a lonely single mother, played by Helen Hunt, who is burdened with an asthmatic seven-year-old son. Karen maintains a strong front, but it is clear that she sees her life going down the drain socially and sexually. Even before they get involved, Karen knows a lot about Melvin. She is “his” waitress in a restaurant near his apartment where he eats every day and where he is both obnoxious and weird whenever he is frustrated, which is almost all the time. For example, Melvin brings his own sterilized plastic tableware; he won't use the knife, fork, and spoon the restaurant provides. And he insults anyone who is sitting at “his” table when he comes into the restaurant to eat. He doesn't care about the awful scenes he creates.

In a short time Melvin and Karen fall in love. The movie ends happily with Melvin and Karen in each other's arms. His choice to obsess and compulse has diminished to the point where it is implied that he and she have a good chance for a normal life together. Again, in fiction, love conquers all. But don't get me wrong, I like happy endings. I wouldn't want the movie to end any other way.

As we walked out of the theater, I said to my wife, “I give that relationship a week before they start having serious problems.”

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