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Pastoral Counseling Theory Paper

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Jude_Midterm Counselling Theory Paper 2013 Fall.
Reality Therapy (William Glasser).
Gladding (2005) maintained that reality therapy was formulated by William Glasser in the early 1960s. It began as a major theoretical approach in 1965 with the publication of Glasser’s book Reality Therapy (1965). This approach emphasizes choices that people can make to change their lives and focuses on two general concepts: the environment necessary for conducting counselling and the procedures leading to change (Wubbolding, 1998, as cited in Gladding, 2005, p.91) it is usually essential to establish a safe environment before change can occur.
Reality therapy is a flexible, friendly, and firm approach to working with clients, it is also action oriented. It emphasizes the fulfilment of psychological needs, the resolution of personal difficulties, and the prevention of future problems (Gladding, 2005).
Reality Therapy View Of Human Nature/Personality
Gladding said that Glasser maintained that people act on a conscious level and that they are not driven by instincts and the unconscious. Glasser believes that there is a health/ growth forces in every person that seeks both physical and psychological health/ growth. Physically, there is the need to obtain and use life-sustaining necessities such as food, water, and shelter. According to Glasser, human behaviour was once controlled by physical need for survival. He associates behaviours such as breathing, digesting, and sweating with physical or old-brain, needs because they are automatically controlled by the body. The four primaries psychological or new-brain needs include belonging, power, freedom and fun. (p.92) Associated with these psychological needs is the need for identity, that is, a psychologically healthy sense of self. Glasser believes that identity or a healthy sense of self is necessary. A success identity comes from being loved and accepted. A failure identity comes from not having needs for acceptance, love and worth met. A person must experience identity before they can perform a task. When these needs are met, people achieve a success identity. Those whose needs are not met establish a failure identity, a maladjusted personality characterized by a lack of confidence and a tendency to give up easily. (p.93)
In regard to identity Glasser thinks there are two critical periods in children’s lives. First, Children ages 2 to 5 first learn socialization and learn to deal with frustrations and disappointments. Children not getting support and love from their parents during this critical time begin to establish a failure identity. The second critical period is between 5 and 10 years or the early school years, where they gain knowledge and self-concept. Children who have socialization or academic problem may establish a failure identity. (Gladdings, 2005)
Glasser suggests that human learning is a lifelong process; therefore, one can change one’s identity at any time in one’s personal history by learning what needs to be learned (Glasser & Wubbolding, 1995 as cited in Gladding, 2005, p.93). He also believes that humans are self-determined, and that each person has within themselves a picture or perception of themselves. Each person then behaves in a way that is determined or controlled by this image of self so that the self image can be maintained. Individuals can choose to be miserable or mentally disturbed; they may also choose to behave in positive ways and give up trying to control others, such as a parent, a child, a spouse, or an employee/ employer… (Glasser, 1988, p.21)
Role of the Counsellor of Reality Therapy.
Gladding suggested that the counsellor of reality therapy has five main roles.
a. The counsellor is a teacher and a model to the client.
b. The counsellor creates an atmosphere of acceptance and warmth helping the client focus on the control of displayed thoughts and actions.
c. The reality counsellor used “ing’ verbs to help the client describe their thoughts and actions, that is, angering, bullying, intimidating, excusing.
d. The focus of therapy is on the behaviour that the client needs or wants to change and how to change that behaviour in a positive manner.
e. Reality therapy does not generally use formal assessment techniques or diagnostic categories. I mean that reality therapists do not concentrate on early childhood experiences, clients’ insights, aspects of the unconscious, mental illness, and blame or stimulus-response perception of interaction. Here Glasser reality therapy is different from Freudian and Adlerian theories. (Gladding, 2005, p.94)
The Goal of Reality Therapy
The primary goal of reality therapy is to help clients become psychologically strong and rational, and also realize that they have choices in how they treat themselves and others. If this goal is reached, individual become autonomous and responsible (Wubbolding, 1988, 1991; Wallace, 1988 as cited in Gladding, 2005) Responsible behaviour allows individual to take charge of their actions and obtain their goals. It also keeps them from interfering with others or getting into trouble. In addition, it leads to the formation of a success identity, which enables clients to live more productive and harmonious lives (Gladding, 2005). Gladding opined that Glasser (1981) contends that to help people “we must help them gain strength to do worthwhile things with their lives and at the same time become warmly involved with the people they need” (p.48) Reality therapy strives to prevent problems from occurring (Gladding, 2005, p.94) and this is one of the reasons as a caregiver I chose this theory to articulate on. If we can minimize conflict among ourselves as a result of knowing how to relate with others, we will have relative peace in the world.
Second goal is to help clients clarify what they want in life. It is vital for individual to be aware of their life goals if they are to act responsibly. In assessing goals, reality therapists help their clients examine personal assets as well as environmental support and hindrance. It is then the responsibility of clients to choose behaviours that fulfil personal needs. Gladding listed six criteria with which to judge whether a person is choosing a suitable and healthy behaviour. They are; the behaviour is non-competitive, the behaviour is easily completed without a great deal of mental effort, the behaviour can be done by oneself, the behaviour have value for the person, the client believes that improvements in lifestyle will result from the behaviour. The client can practice the behaviour without being self-critical.
Another goal of reality therapy is to help clients formulate a realistic plan to achieve personal needs and wishes. The focus is helping individuals become more responsible and realize that no single plan is absolute.
An additional goal of reality therapy is to help counsellors establish meaningful relationships with their clients. (Glasser, 1980, 1981). These relationships are based on understanding, acceptance, empathy and, a willingness to express faith in a clients’ ability to change. Another goal is to focus on behaviour and the present. Glasser (1988) believes that behaviour-that is, thought and action- is interrelated with feeling and physiology. Thus a change in behaviour also brings about other positive changes (Gladding, 2005, p.95)
Finally, reality therapy aims to eliminate both fear of punishment and excuses from the clients’ lives. The therapist helps clients formulate new plans if old ones do not work. The emphasis is on planning, revision, and eventual success, regardless of setbacks. The entire procedure empowers clients and enables them to be more productive. This is my target as a pastoral caregiver to my clients.
The Treatment Process and Techniques use by the Therapists of Reality therapy
Reality therapy relies on action-oriented techniques that help clients realize that they have choices in how they respond to events and people and that others do not control them any more than they control others (Glasser, 1998). Some of the more effective and active techniques are teaching, employing humor, confronting, role playing, giving feedback, formulating specific plans, and making contracts.
Reality therapy relies heavily on teaching as a primary technique. There is involvement between counsellors and clients in which clients begin to face reality and see that behaviour is unrealistic. Second, counsellors reject the unrealistic behaviour of their clients without rejecting the clients as person. Finally counsellors teach clients better ways to fulfil needs within the confines of reality. One strategy that counsellors use is positiveness, in which they talk about, focus on, and reinforce positive and constructive planning and behaving (Gilliland & James, 1998).
In reality therapy humor is the ability to see the absurdity within a situation and view matters from a different and amusing perspective. It is an appropriate technique if used sparingly gladding maintained (p.96). The ability to laugh at oneself promotes the ability to change because the situation can be seen in a new and often insightful way. Gladding suggested never should humor be used as a sarcastic put-down, which would likely deteriorate the counselling relationship and adversely affect the process of change.
In confrontation, counsellors challenge clients about certain behaviours as a way of helping clients accept responsibility for their actions. Its purpose is to help clients bring the past or future into the present and assess how life will be different when they start behaving differently. The counsellors help clients formulate a specific plan for improving their lives; clients develop contracts to carry out these plans in a timely and systematic way.
Reality therapy uses the WDEP system as a way of helping counsellors and clients make progress. In this system the W stands for wants; at the beginning of the counselling process, counsellors find out what clients want and what they have been doing to get it ( Wubbolding,1988,1991 , 2000). Counsellors in turn, share their wants for and perceptions of clients’ situation. The D in WDEP involves clients exploration of the direction of their lives. The E in the WDEP process stands for evaluation, which is the cornerstone of reality therapy. In this procedure clients are helped to evaluate their behaviours and determine how responsible their personal behaviours are. It is crucial, therefore that clients, not counsellors do the evaluation. The final letter P, of the WDEP system stands for plan, which clients make to change behaviours. The plan stresses actions that clients will take, not behaviours that they will eliminate. The best plans are simple, attainable, measurable, immediate, and consistent (Wubbolding, 1998, 2000).They are also controlled by clients and are supported by written contracts in which responsible alternatives are spelled out.
According to Glasser (1965, 1980), counsellors should not give up on their clients even if they fail to accomplish their goals. However, counsellors should stubbornly and tenaciously encourage their clients to make new plans or revise old ones (Gladding, 2005, p.97).
The way Reality Therapy treats multicultural and Gender-sensitive Issues
Reality therapy respects cultural differences. Clients “decide on the changes they wish to make that are consistent with their cultural” (Sharf, 2004, p.4431). Thus, reality therapy focuses on the responsibility of clients to themselves, others and society. This is another important view why I love reality theory, if everybody is responsible to oneself, other, and society, there will be mutual understanding which brings harmony and eliminate destructive aggressions and addictions in our lives. However, reality therapy does not take into account environmental forces such as discrimination and racism that affect people from different cultures (Sharf, 2004, p.430). In regard to gender issues, reality therapy emphasizes the empowerment of clients to make choices regardless of their gender. However, this therapy may be limited in what it can do for women because it does not advocate for social change or address societal ills, such as sexism (Gladding, 2005). Well, in my opion as a future Caregiver, I would say reality therapy does but implicitly by its goals to the clients irrespective of their gender.
One may ask what are the strengths and weaknesses of reality therapy.
First of all, reality therapy is versatile. It can be applied to many different disorders and populations; it is especially appropriate in treating conduct disorders, substance-abuse disorders, impulse- control disorders, personality disorders, and antisocial behaviour. It can also be employed in individual counselling with children, adolescents, adults, and the aged as well as in group, marriage, and family counselling. Simply put this approach has such flexibility that it is helpful in almost any setting that emphasizes mental health and adjustment, such as hospital, mental health clinics, schools, prisons, rehabilitation centres and crisis centres (Gladding, 2005)
A second advantage is its concreteness. Both the therapists and the clients are able to assess how much progress is being made and in what areas, especially if a goal-specific contract is drawn up
Another advantage is that it promotes responsibility and freedom within individuals without blaming or criticizing or attempting to restructure entire personalities. To act in a responsible manner is “to fulfil one’s needs and to do so in a way that does not deprive others of the ability to fulfil their needs” (Glasser, 1965, p.13). Many individuals need help in becoming responsible, and reality therapy provides this assistance.
Reality therapy also addresses the resolution of conflict. Glasser (1984) believes that conflict occurs on two levels, true and false. On the true level, conflict develops over interpersonal disagreements about change, in such cases no single solution exists, and people should expand their energy in other, nonconflict areas. In false conflict, however, such as losing weight, change is possible if persons are willing to give the effort. (Gladding, 2005, p.98)
An additional strength of reality therapy is its stress on the present; current behaviour is most amendable to clients’ control. Reality therapists are not interested in the past.
Gladding (2005) maintained that reality therapy emphasizes short-term treatment. It is usually limited to a relatively few sessions, which focus on present behaviours.
One other strength of reality therapy is that it has national training centres. This shows the growing edges to this theory. The Institute for Reality Therapy in Los Angeles and centre for Reality Therapy in Cincinnati promote a uniform educational experience among practitioners employing this theory. The centre also publishes professional Literature.
Finally, reality therapy has contributed to counselling by successfully challenging the medical model of client treatment. The rationale and positive emphasis of this approach are refreshing alternatives to pathology-centred models (James & Gilliland, 2003)
The Limitations or weaknesses of reality Therapy.
By emphasizing so strongly the here and now of behaviour, reality therapy tends to ignore other concepts, such as the unconscious and personal history. Reality therapy makes little allowance for the unconscious for instance dreams.
A second limitation is its belief that all forms of mental illness are attempts to deal with external events (Glasser, 1984). Mental illness does not just happen, Glasser contends; persons choose mental illness to help control their world, Consequently, Glasser ignores biology as a factor in mental illness, a stance considered by some critics to be naïve and irresponsible.
Reality therapy is also criticized for being too simple because it has few theoretical constructs. It does not deal with the full complexity of human life, preferring to ignore most developmental stages. Thus, its critics state that the theory behind the therapy lacks comprehensiveness.
Another limitation is that reality therapy is susceptible to becoming overly moralistic, a potential difficulty rather than a certain disadvantage. Glasser (1972) asserts that reality therapy was never intended to function in this way. Therapists who practice reality therapy are not to judge clients’ behaviours; clients judge their own behaviours. The role of therapists is to support their clients in a personal exploration of values. Nonetheless, overzealous practitioners may impose their values on clients.
Yet another limitation is its dependence on verbal interaction and two-way communication. As a consequence, it may falter in helping clients who, for any reason, cannot adequately express their needs, options, and plans (James & Gilliland, 2003, as cited in Gladding, 2005, p.99)
Finally, reality therapy keeps changing its focus and emphasis, despite an initial denial of that charge by Glasser (1976). Gladding continued that acceptance is now emphasized more than it previously was. Furthermore, the integration of control theory and then its replacement by choice theory as the bedrock of the approach necessarily altered theory’s earlier focus.
From the perspective of reality therapy Andrew is avoiding making choices. He has let others decide for him, such as whether to have a job. Thus, he has a number of excuses as to why his life has been relatively unproductive. In addition, Andrew has not taken care of his psychological need for belonging, power, freedom, and fun. By neglecting these needs, Andrew has taken on a failure identity. However, Andrew can choose to be different. He can choose to be in noncontrolling relationships with his family and friends. Furthermore, he can choose to take other constructive action and stop failing and depressing himself. If he makes these choices, Andrew can become more autonomous, responsible and successful. He can also clarify what he wants in life and find internal and external support for realistic pursuit of his goals. Thus, his mental health can improve, and he will be able to live in the present in a productive way
Treatment Process
AS a reality therapist, I am active in Andrew’s treatment process. I base my work on a good, strong, and trusting client-counsellor relationship. I try to teach him how he can reject unrealistic behaviours without rejecting himself or being rejected by me. And I reinforce his positive and constructive plans and behaviours. I use humor with Andrew as he gains insight into himself and sees the folly of his ways. However, I am mostly serious and confront Andrew with the fact that he is responsible for his actions, especially now in the present. I role play with him how he can act responsibly. I also use WDEP system to help Andrew articulate his wants and the direction he wishes to travel. I help him evaluate behaviours that will contribute to his growth, and then I support him in formulating a plan for moving on. As a part of this process, I draw up a contract with Andrew to help him see how he is carrying out his ambitions. I encourage and support him as he begins anew.
When Andrew fails to carry out some part of his plan, such as returning to work, I do not blame or punish him; instead, I help him formulate another plan. For Andrew the ultimate achievement is to become more responsible and free and to accomplish that within a relatively brief period of time. (Gladding, 2005, p.99-100)
My theoretical framework will be based on work with different classes of people as a catholic priest, such as individuals, families, youth, and the under-privileged wherever I am, because many individuals and families need help of becoming responsible and reality therapy provides the assistance. Therefore I find reality therapy most impressive among all the theories. Put simply reality therapy approach emphasizes choices that people can make to change their lives and focuses on two general concepts; the environment necessary for conducting counselling and the procedures leading to change. Reality therapy is not rigid but flexible, friendly, and firm approach to working with clients. It is also action oriented, and above all, it emphasizes the fulfilment of psychological needs, the resolution of personal difficulties, and the prevention of future problems. Which I think is appropriate to me as a catholic priest who meets these problems every day at the confessional and consultation with parishioners or pilgrims.
Gladding. S. T. (2005) Counseling Theories: Essential concepts and applications. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Education Inc.,
Gilliland, B. E. & James, R. K. (1998). Theories and strategies in counselling and psychotherapy (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Glasser, W. (1961). Mental health or mental illness. New York: Harper & Row.
Glasser, W. (1965). Reality therapy: A new approach to psychiatry. New York: Harper & Row.
Glasser, W. (1988). Reality therapy. Workshop presented at the Alabama Association for counselling and Development, fall conference, November, Birmingham.
Glasser, W. (1981). Stations of the mind. New York: Harper & Row.
Glasser, W. (1984). Control theory: A new explanation of how we control our lives. New York: Harper & Row.
Glasser, W. (1986). Control theory in the classroom. New York: Harper & Row.
Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory. New York: HarperCollins.
Glasser, W. (2000). Counseling with choice theory. New York: HarperCollins.
James, R. K. & Gilliland, B. E. (2003). Theories and strategies in counselling and psychotherapy (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Sharf, R. S. (2004). Theories of psychotherapy and counselling (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Wubbolding, R.E. (1988). Using reality therapy. New York: HarperCollins.
Wubbolding, R.E. (1991). Understanding reality therapy. New York: HarperCollins.
Wubbolding, R.E. (2000). Reality therapy for the 21st century. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge.

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