Choice Theory and Christian Worldview

Integration of a Christian Worldview

Reality Therapy or Choice Theory

What is reality therapy? This therapy was founded by William Glasser during the 1980’s and fully developed by 1996.  Reality therapy or choice theory proposes that we are not born blank slates waiting to be externally motivated by forces in the world around us. Rather, we are born with five genetically encoded needs:

  • Survival
    (includes nourishment, shelter, and sex).
  • Loveand belonging (this includes groups as well as families or loved ones).
  • Poweror achievement (which includes achievement and feeling worthwhile as
    well as winning).
  • Freedomor independence (includes independence, autonomy, and your own ‘space’).
  • Funor joy (includes pleasure and enjoyment).

The PREMISE of reality or choice therapy is because we are by nature social creatures we
need to both receive and give love.

The FOUNDATION of reality or choice therapy is THE NEED TO LOVE AND TO BELONG. Whether we know it or not we are acting to satisfy one of the above needs.

This is paralleled in the life of a believer by different means:

  • One another verses
  • Paul’s encouragement to churches and Timothy
  • Jesus’ encouragement to Peter

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all
have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
(Rom. 12:4, 5)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect themature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph.

An assumption is that our brain functions as a control system by continually monitoring our feelings to determine how well we are doing in our lifelong effort to satisfy these needs.  If one of these needs is unsatisfied, we will struggle in life.

What is a way in which reality therapy or choice theory helps someone with this struggle?

Every total behavior is our best attempt to get what we want to satisfy our needs.

People choose misery by developing “paining” behaviors even when these efforts are ineffective.  A client must learn to take responsibility because we are responsible for how we feel.

Robert Wubbolding in 2007 added a new idea to choice theory (the WDEP system) that suggested that behavior is like a language that gives opportunity for dialogue with life circumstances.  The purpose of behavior is to influence the world to get what we want.

Therapists ask clients what messages they are sending to others:

  1. What message do you want others to get?
  2. What message are others gettingwhether or not you intended to send them?

The basic axiom of choice theory is:  “The only person you can control is yourself.”

A practical application of reality theory simply stated is changing what we do is
the key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.

Various scriptures illustrate this principle
Takingcare of the widows in Acts 6

The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be
rewarded according to their own labor.
(1 Corinthians 3:8)

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ
God forgave you.
(Eph. 4:32)

The Application of the Choice Theory by



  • If you were the person that you wish you were, what kind of person would you be?
    What would your family be like if your wants and their wants matched?
    What would you be doing if you were living as you want to
    Do you really want to change your life?
    Whatis it you want that you do not seem to be getting from life?
  • What do you think stops you frommaking the changes you would like?
    What are you doing now”
    What did you actually do this past week?
    What did you want to do differently this past week?
    What stopped you from doing what you said you wanted to do?
  • What will you do tomorrow?
    Is what you are doing helping or hurting you?
    Is what you are doing now what you want to be doing?
    Is your behavior working for you?
    Is there a healthy congruence between what you are doing and what you believe?
    Is what you are doing against the rules?
    Is what you want realistic or attainable?
    Does it help you to look at it that way?
    How committed are you to the therapeutic process and to changing your life?
  • After carefully examining what you want, does it appear to be in your best interests and in the best interests ofothers?

  • Attainable
    Controlled by the planner
    Committed to and continuously done

Comparisons to Christianity

Areas in common

  1. Human responsibility
  2. Limited freedom: influenced but not determined by the past
  3. People need a sense of belonging and purpose
  4. People are holistic not fragmented
  5. People must face life courageously
  6. People function as mperfect beings in an imperfect world
  7. People are both cognitive and behavioral
  8. People have both a personal and social responsibility

Areas of Contrast

  1. Humanistic emphasis: limited view of man’s evil and falleness
  2. No formal role for God in the change process
  3. Human-centered moral system
  4. No need for repentance and salvation
  5. Emphasizes law not grace (traditionally) May lack patience
  6. Sees all problems as the results of not taking personal responsibility