24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

Navigation Link

Review of "Counseling with Choice Theory"

By William Glasser
Quill, 2001
Review by David Wolf, M.A. on Nov 27th 2002
Counseling with Choice Theory

   Dr. Glasser's work is a companion to his earlier work Choice Theory, a collection of case studies useful to practitioners already familiar with Glasser's reality therapy and choice therapy and interested in using those principles of judging and listening with clients. As such, Counseling with Choice Theory cannot be said to stand on its own as an independent work for general readers but only for those who own and use the earlier work.

   William Glasser has proposed a choice theory to account for psychological pain, distress and dysfunction that he believes displaces even the distinction mental illness itself. Patients are not in any case sick, he maintains: they make bad choices based mostly on inadequate or terribly unrewarding relationships. In this view of the human being, psychological suffering in all its various forms reduces to choices (often complex) and coping with others in relationships. Not only does Glasser rule out unconscious motives and conflicts of the sort made famous by Freud or Jung and their followers, but he also disenchants us from the view that any psychological failings are physical or biochemical in nature.

   It is a sweeping theory, a stance for a new era perhaps. But whatever evidence there may be to support this view is not contained in Counseling with Choice Theory We read the cases of Lucy, Jeff, George and perhaps a dozen others, follow the dialogue between counselor and client, without getting any closer to answers about whether the overarching choice theory itself is fully viable.  This book isn't really about the whole theory--it's an application to client discussions of Glasser's viewpoint and his implicit rules of discourse.

   Nonetheless, choice theory in a limited context--that is, not overturning all psychotherapy-- is an appropriate, rational paradigm for creating a useful dialectic with a client. One can see these discussions modeled in Glasser's case studies. 

   Doubt will remain about whether psychoanalysis, psycho-active drugs, and the medical model in psychology generally can be dismissed and discarded; there is little doubt that more room for choice in resolving human distress and pain must be created by all practitioners. William Glasser has contributed cases that effectively guide couselors in the management and elucidation of client choices and their effects.


© 2002 David Wolf


David M. Wolf, M.A. studied philosophy of science for the M.A. with Prof. David Hawkins at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and also read advanced philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. His undergraduate education in Philosophy was guided by Prof. Mason Gross. Wolf is certified in philosophic counseling with the American Philosophic Practitioners Assoc. and earns his living in management consulting, where he is distinguished in writing strategic plans and advising in organization development and career counseling.