Questions & Answers


  • What is the difference between choice theory and reality therapy?

Answer: Choice theory is the explanation of how the human mind functions as an internal control system. It explains human motivation: that human behavior originates from five generic, universal sources called needs or genetic instructions. Human behavior is our attempt to satisfy specific pictures related to the five needs.

Reality therapy is the delivery system for choice theory. It outlines a methodology for implementing the theory. In the summer 2008, page 1 of The William Glasser Institute Newsletter Dr. & Mrs. Glasser describe the difference as, “Choice theory is the train track and reality therapy is the train.”

This difference is further explained in the following journal article: Wubbolding, R. & Brickell, J. (2007) “Frequently Asked Questions and Brief Answers: Part I.” International Journal of Reality Therapy, 27(1), 29-30.


  • Is reality therapy evidence based?

Answer: First we need to summarize the definition of evidence based. The pioneer in “evidence based practice” (EBP) is Dr. David Sackett. In EBP we integrate the best clinical skill with evidence that the skills utilized are effective and based on systematic research.

One of the objections to reality therapy is that there is no research data validating its use. In my opinion, this objection is completely erroneous.

The books Reality Therapy for the 21st Century and Reality Therapy: Theories of Psychotherapy Series contain summaries of 55 research studies and references to the original sources. Moreover, research articles regularly appear in the International Journal for Choice Theory and Reality Therapy.


Additionally, Rose-Inza Kim, Director of the Korea Counseling Center and former Dean at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea has facilitated over 250 Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations on reality therapy. Several of these are summarized in her excellent article: Kim, R-I., and Hwang, M. (2006). “A meta-analysis of reality therapy and choice theory group programs for self-esteem and locus of control in Korea,” International Journal of Choice Theory, 1(1), 25-30. Please note, this journal has been discontinued and should not be confused with the International Journal for Choice Theory and Reality Therapy currently published under the editorship of Thomas Parish, PhD.


There still remains much research to be done using a rigid methodology for measuring change in behavior. Such research will further increase the credibility of reality therapy.

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