Stephen Speicher

"Reality Therapy?"

8 posts in this topic

From a different thread:

Finally I wanted to crow that I have achieved my Reality Therapy Certification! yay :(

I wanted to add my congratulations, but not knowing what "Reality Therapy" was, I thought it wise to first do a little inquiry. Evidently "Reality Therapy" is due to Dr. William Glasser, a chemical engineer who became a certified psychiatrist in 1961 and wrote a counseling book called Reality Therapy in 1965. The William Glasser Institute website is here.

On the Reality Therapy webpage, I read the following description:

Since unsatisfactory or non-existent connections with people we need are the source of almost all human problems, the goal of Reality Therapy is to help people reconnect. This reconnection almost always starts with the counselor/teacher first connecting with the individual and then using this connection as a model for how the disconnected person can begin to connect with the people he or she needs. To create the relationship vital to Reality Therapy, the counselor, teacher or manager will:

I must confess to seeing little red flags flying about when reading this little bit. The source of mental health problems are not from within, but rather from "unsatisfactory or non-existent connections with people we need?" Granted I am not an expert, but this is certainly contrary, on a fundamental level, to everything I know about human psychology. And what's with this repeated variation of "connect" in a few short sentences ("connections," "reconnect," "reconnection," "connecting," "connection," "disconnected," "connect")? Seems like a floating abstraction to me.

The first of the details of what the "teacher or manager will [do]" made me stop reading:

Focus on the present and avoid discussing the past because all human problems are caused by unsatisfying present relationships.

The cause of psychological problems are cognitive and reside in the individual, not in his relationship to others. Psychological problems may manifest themselves in how people relate to each other, but those relationships are hardly the cause of the psychological problems themselves.

Now admittedly all I have done is take a cursory peek at "Reality Therapy," and I would like to offer my congratulations to ElizabethLee on her certificate, but the little I have seen is contrary to my most fundamental understanding of psychology. ElizabethLee, am I missing something here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lol. I printed this and will post later. For now, let me say that I have found that, in practice, Reality Therapy, along with John Gottman's therapy, are the most genuinely helpful and comprehensive of all therapies. Dr. Gottman is also a scientist, or rather, an advanced mathematician [he holds an MIT math degree].

Also, I have not found any school of therapy with which I completely agree. I'm sure that won't surprise you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While dealing with people through my company I have to deal with a large amount of different problems. One of those problems is an impproper psychology, which has led me to read close to 100 different books in this field, it is a terrible state. I once picked up the work of Dr. Glasser and started scanning through it to see if I could obtain anything worthy from him. I put the book down after about 20 minutes of reading ( I was in a bookstore), as I came to a conclusion similar to Stephen's. After reading some of his fundamental statements I thought that there was not going to be much that I could learn or apply in reality.

I have not met many people in the field of pyschology that I would advise people to see. I have actually had many people that are therapist come to me as clients. As we move further into our time together we almost always reach questions on psychology and or philosophy. Most of them at this point ask many question on both. I do not think one can have a proper psychology without first having a proper philosophy and I have told them so. A lot of them make statements to me such as; I should send my clients to you as you seem to have a better understanding of this field than I do. Most of these people have at least a masters degree and sometimes more. I have also found that most of them are full of contradictions and worse off than most of their clients.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Stephen and Ray!

I apologize at the outset that I can't do justice to this topic; possibly I should not have mentioned it, but I was feeling quite pleased with myself for finishing my certification!

There are several reasons why a significant amount of time [more than these few hours already] would be required for me to reply fully on this matter. I apologize for its length; it's the old saying if I need to write it quickly, you get a book!

First, one person with whom I discussed this matter in detail suggested that perhaps I was adding so much to what I was reading that I was over-crediting Dr. Glasser. I don't think that is true, but it is true that his was the last system I read [of a vast number of systems] before concluding I have a basic, productive, and useable understanding of psychology.

Secondly, I have tried, a small bit, to review his work, and I concluded that I would need to review the corpus instead of a single book. That's a bit of a daunting task. I may feel differently about that now, but I am not sure.

Third, since I haven't fully articulated my own view of proper therapy in writing, it's harder to make a case of his importance to my system. I would like to write more on my views, and if I get more paying clients for therapy then that time may come sooner than later. For now, the area is not my big focus since I am seeking a more conventional job. [i don't think I can make adequate money in the field as things stand, and I also have a number of other passionate interests and plan to integrate them all as time goes on.]

In sum, this post is as significant a time commitment as I am willing to commit to for now! I will answer some of your queries, share how I found Dr. Glasser, and give a few reasons why I believe his is the best therapy I've found. I do not ask or hope you will read his books; you may or may not.

My task is merely to indicate that if you think you need counseling, you can feel reasonably safe going to a Reality Therapist. I would do so, and that is saying a lot. [As always, experience also matters for therapists without much philosophy background. Additionally, personal fit is important, but less so than with other therapies.]

I once picked up the work of Dr. Glasser and ...put the book down after about 20 minutes of reading

Lol. I had a similar experience, except that the book sat not on the bookstore shelf but on my own personal bookcase for an unknown period of time. I have no idea when I bought it or even how I obtained it! However, at one point a fellow Objectivist recommended his works, as one of a few that were of value, and I read it then. It was a huge ah-hah for me at that time [2003]; I felt it integrated all my prior learning.

Just like I did with Objectivism, I immediately launched into learning it in depth. I attended the first available training session and the gentleman there was so incredible that I was completely hooked. [Any of you in Florida may enjoy meeting Mr. Wendall Walker and his wife.] My certification was done almost as quickly as possible.

I have not met many people in the field of pyschology that I would advise people to see. I have actually had many people that are therapist come to me as clients. .....Most of these people have at least a masters degree and sometimes more. I have also found that most of them are full of contradictions and worse off than most of their clients.

I have said many times [including here, I believe], and another psychologist [LeShan 2002 http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1581152515...glance&n=916520 ] seems to agree, that 33% of all therapists will harm you [sometimes permanently in significant areas], 33% will not hurt nor help you [but their neutrality may feel helpful for long periods of time], and 33% will help you [sometimes dramatically]. Considering that people often attend therapy only as a last resort, in the midst of a crisis, their odds are not too good. We are not at our best in such circumstances.

Regarding therapists being "worse off," sadly that is sometimes [10%?] true. I think it is part of two more general phenomena. First, people who have no trouble with a subject often simply get on with their lives. The best sailboat racer may not be able to teach you how to win the race ["you've got to keep track where the finish line is" "but how do you sail so fast??"], he just wins it for himself. Secondly, on the opposite end of the ability spectrum, the good, honest people with psychological problems grow to realize that various issues they've had are actually psychological problems and they turn to study it.

A little bit of knowledge might not be enough; as you all on this board know, psychology doesn't know much yet [elided; side topic on philosophy]. So those with the worst problems and the best minds may decide to study further and advance the field. Of course, I'm not saying this is true for all, but it has happened. I can't find it for you, but a turning point for me was reading about a gentleman psychotherapist who has resigned himself to experiencing periodic bouts of suicidal depression for his entire life! Can you imagine????

For myself, my first interest began when I was confronted by a person who was very mixed up. Then later, another period of interest was when I realized I also had some issues [which imho were wonderfully solved by application of Objectivism and Reality Therapy].

As far as the masters degree goes, today's government regulations and health monstrosi-care reimbursement are equally aware of psychology's lapses as we are, so they have "solved" it. It's a simple solution, sort of like compromise with Iran, and it works equally well, ie doesn't work at all. The solution is: you are not allowed to practice until you have studied every single therapy out there and can prove it by tests and many hours of low-paid apprenticeship. A masters degree is virtually required; most states do require one; I actually think there may now be none that don't for the title "psychotherapist." [Reality therapy gives a counseling designation, which differs btw.] Again, this is not to say good therapists don't exist; I'm just saying that the credentials are not what differentiates them.

I must confess to seeing little red flags flying about when reading this little bit. The source of mental health problems are not from within, but rather from "unsatisfactory or non-existent connections with people we need?"

Granted I am not an expert, but this is certainly contrary, on a fundamental level, to everything I know about human psychology.

Little red flags flying! I love it! I need some of those, they sound so much more interesting than mere inklings, and less annoying than those small alarm bells so many mere mortals experience. Resolved: flags flying forever!

Now that that important topic is agreed, I also agree that the idea of relationships being the cause of all psych problems was anathema to me for a while. I think I understand his point now. On a desert island, our individual peccadillos, our psychological oddities, probably wouldn't bother us much. Why would they if we alone were the only example of homo sapiens and we had no others' needs to consider? I'll leave it at that for now.

And what's with this repeated variation of "connect" in a few short sentences ("connections," "reconnect," "reconnection," "connecting," "connection," "disconnected," "connect")? Seems like a floating abstraction to me.

I think I found one possible answer to that, by contrast, on the first pages of his flagship book, "Choice Theory: A new psychology of personal freedom" 1998. The website language might be an effort to talk the language of today's other psychologists. He cites a 1997 JAMA article that found "parent-family connectedness... were protective..." and comments "you will note that I do not use the word 'connectedness.'" That's it for a short hypothesis, similar in depth as to an answer I'd give to "why does Ayn Rand write in short sentences for the first 50pages of Atlas Shrugged?" To build up your storehouse of facts, I think, but surely much more can and should be said.

Ok, those are my brief replies. Now I will give a few points in favor of the therapy and Dr. Glasser.

Far and away the most important feature of Choice Theory / Reality Therapy [CT/RT] is it's ability to "first, do no harm." It's the only therapy that has a principle which ensures the client isn't subjected to harassment: therapists only help people on things they want help on. CT respects free will. To explain this issue in detail would take me some time, which I won't do here. Suffice it to say that putting benevolence first and holding free will as an axiom can take you quite far! [Note that I believe, as do many others such as Dr. Gottman, that one cannot effectively counsel someone for whom one has no love. CT/RT relaxes this requirement slightly, which is very helpful.]

For this reason, I can recommend CT practitioners to any lurking readers here, knowing that with your knowledge of Objectivism you will have a good idea of what things to ask for help on. For example, Objectivists would never ask for help sacrificing others to us nor ourselves to others.

The next important feature of CT/RT, which is right up there but wouldn't mean much without the "no harm" clause, is positive improvements. Dr. Glasser himself, per his 1965 book, had a stunning track record with incarcerated patients. Anyone who has read Yochelson & Samenow [link to vol.2 of 3 vol. set; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/156821349...ie=UTF8&s=books ] realizes what an incredible feat that is. I also met a woman whose marriage was saved by a CTRT and now is becoming a licensed therapist herself. People who are not in psych may not realize how rare these kinds of true permanent improvement are.

Finally, I really appreciate Dr. Glasser's independence, non-mysticism, and system-building-focus. He doesn't hesitate to be controversial; he recently titled a book [2003] "Warning: Psychiatry can be hazardous to your health." [He is a psychiatrist, ie has a medical license.] His "reality" really means an external reality: he has said recently that he doesn't believe in "spiritual needs," for example. He also always attempts to build a big picture view and systematize his thinking.

One of today's cultural tragedies, I believe, is that people now understand the importance of psychology to health, but they have woefully few tools to fix the problems. In the past when people would put up a stiff upper lip and gloss over these issues, I think they had some things easier. In today's culture it's sort of the worst of all the worlds; people are sure bad psychology is a problem, so they worry it a lot, but they don't get anywhere. That probably stops a lot of great creations and certainly causes a lot of fuss and botheration.

In conclusion, although there are numerous things I cannot [yet?] endorse in Dr. Glasser's ideas [e.g. his couples therapy], I think his work is an enormous value in a field starved for values.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must confess to seeing little red flags flying about when reading this little bit. The source of mental health problems are not from within, but rather from "unsatisfactory or non-existent connections with people we need?" Granted I am not an expert, but this is certainly contrary, on a fundamental level, to everything I know about human psychology.

I also agree that the idea of relationships being the cause of all psych problems was anathema to me for a while. I think I understand his point now. On a desert island, our individual peccadillos, our psychological oddities, probably wouldn't bother us much. Why would they if we alone were the only example of homo sapiens and we had no others' needs to consider?

We're not talking about peccadilloes or oddities; we're talking about mental health. Psychological therapy, not newspaper-column etiquette. It is precisely on a desert island, when one is all alone, that the need for psychological health so clearly manifests itself as the life and death issue that it is. Try evading how to find food and water and see how long you will live. I'm sorry, but I'll state it with more definiteness than I stated it before: any psychologist who thinks that the source of mental health problems stems from "unsatisfactory or non-existent connections with people we need," is not deserving of the title "psychologist" and should be avoided like the plague. This attriubution of causality to "relationships" is just a re-working of the old social adaptability approach to psychology, the approach that for countless decades has relegated psychology to medieval mystics. Mental illness is a cognitive disorder, a psycho-epistemological problem that impairs the proper functioning of one's mind. To replace that fact with "relationships" as a causal mechanism is to reverse cause and effect.

In conclusion, although there are numerous things I cannot [yet?] endorse in Dr. Glasser's ideas [e.g. his couples therapy], I think his work is an enormous value in a field starved for values.

Perhaps, but, in my estimate, you have not provided any evidence of that here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mental illness is a cognitive disorder, a psycho-epistemological problem that impairs the proper functioning of one's mind. To replace that fact with "relationships" as a causal mechanism is to reverse cause and effect.

I agree completely and I agree with the harm in that. As I said, I wasn't giving my full thoughts. I don't want to try to defend my position more because really it's pretty complex, as it always is with mixed cases. He's not an Ayn Rand. He doesn't write consistently according to Objectivism, nor even within his own work. He keeps changing his formulations.

Try evading how to find food and water and see how long you will live.

Great comment! I think I actually disagree with the premise, that psychology alone, without physical ailment, can lead to such a state. I've never seen or read of a psych case in such a state. The worst I've seen are the homeless. They are quite diligently focused on survival. More thoughts?

Perhaps, but, in my estimate, you have not provided any evidence of [his value] here.

ok! To rephrase again, I don't recommend that you read his books, and I don't think you need counseling either, so I wasn't expecting your opinion to change much. I'm only hoping for a "hmm", no more. [yes yes I know I didn't get that either! lol]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As I said, I wasn't giving my full thoughts. I don't want to try to defend my position more because really it's pretty complex, as it always is with mixed cases. He's not an Ayn Rand. He doesn't write consistently according to Objectivism, nor even within his own work. He keeps changing his formulations.

I can understand the difficulties that can ensue with "mixed cases." I know quite a few physicists and mathematicians like that. But for me the only part of the "mix" that has been visible in this case is the negative side, and profoundly so. It is difficult to anticipate meaningful good coming from fundamentally wrong premises. I will concede, however, if the premises that he acts on are not the ones he states, then I guess lots of things are possible. But, then again, if, as you say he keeps changing his formulations, then I guess it might be even more difficult to assess a moving target like that.

I also note that in a previous post you represented Glasser's approach (along with another) as "the most genuinely helpful and comprehensive of all therapies." If, in your view, the best that modern psychology has to offer is from a man with a stated view of mental health that is fundamentally flawed, a man who keeps changing his own formulations, then that surely does not say much for modern psychology.

Try evading how to find food and water and see how long you will live.

Great comment! I think I actually disagree with the premise, that psychology alone, without physical ailment, can lead to such a state. I've never seen or read of a psych case in such a state. The worst I've seen are the homeless. They are quite diligently focused on survival.

The comment was meant to illustrate the difference of two schools of thought, psychological health vs. social adaptation. But, even taken literally, it is not far from the mark. The great, but bizarre mathematician and logician, Kurt Goedel, died officially from "malnutrition and inanition" resulting from "personality disturbance".

I'm only hoping for a "hmm", no more. [yes yes I know I didn't get that either! lol]

I guess I'm all hmm'ed out. :)

Sorry, ElizabethLee, I really do not mean to give you a hard time about this, but I do think these are important matters, as I know so do you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

surely does not say much for modern psychology.

We all in are complete agreement as to that! I appreciate your giving me a "hard time"; I wouldn't enjoy posting so much if you didn't. Your sharp and speedy comments is truly one of the reasons the board is such a gem.

Again, I apologize, I don't feel like I'm doing justice to him, but I know with such a great audience as here it is a hard task. As I said, I already tried, about a year or two ago, and failed after quite a bit of effort. Yet, I hold by my other comments, and now hopefully you understand my context more.

At some point I will write further on the subject, but I need to think of the right angle. It's very much related to the process of reviewing a mixed movie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites