Family Counseling Approach

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The Issue of Choice: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Melissa Trask
Liberty University
May 12, 2010

Counseling has been in existence from the beginning of time. From Jethro to Freud, therapists and philosophers have been seeking insight into the core of human nature and cognitions. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy(CBT) recognizes that faulty cognitions and beliefs affect the behaviors of individuals. One method of cognitive-behavior therapy, reality therapy, incorporates the concepts of free choice and personal responsibility that are taught both in Scripture and Dr. William Glasser’s choice theory. Other aspects of CBT, such as cognitive restructuring and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), also work towards eliminating negativistic attitudes of clients in exchange for more effective and realistic methods for interpreting the situations experienced in daily life.

The Issue of Choice: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
It is suggested that an individual’s personality is a complex system of cognition, emotion, will, physiology, and spirituality. Hawkins proposes nine aspects of the human self to be active influences on one’s personality: “body, cognition, feelings, volition, human spirit, Holy Spirit, sin/flesh/SAS, temporal systems, and spiritual systems (Hawkins COUN507_BO1_200920). Each therapist individually determines what factors they believe to make up a person’s being. Larry Crabb views humans as involving both the physical and spiritual aspects of man. Man’s personality is then separated into five parts: the conscious mind, unconscious mind, heart, will, and emotions. He argues that the way in which an individual identifies what takes place in his/her life determines the emotional or behavioral outcome (Crabb, 1977). The cognitive-behavioral therapist sees individuals as functioning within continuous, shared interactions between behaviors and social conditions. Although these theorists once focused solely on the environmental factors that contribute to unhealthy behaviors, present day behaviorists also acknowledge the need for self-regulation and self-direction in order to change behaviors. Likewise, reality therapy, one of many subtypes of cognitive-behavior therapy, proposes that men and women consciously influence the way the feel and behave. Rather than blaming one’s current situation on the past or on other people’s actions and attitudes, Reality Therapy (also known as Choice Theory) argues that individuals have a clear choice as to how situations and other people influence them (Rapport, 2007).

Glasser’s choice theory maintains that every individual is driven by their attempt to meet their primal needs: love, power, acceptance, survival, freedom and fun. Furthermore, Glasser proposes that human beings are motivated to fulfill each need at every moment of their life (Howatt, 2001). Crabb is in agreement with Glasser as he claims that “all behavior is motivated, we are motivated to meet our needs” (Crabb, 1977, p. 76). Reality Therapy assumes human beings only experience true contentment when they find their needs are met. A common theme of various counseling theories is the result of what individuals accept as truth on their emotional state. Glasser alleges that it is not external forces that control human behavior, but an internal locus of control as he states that “Nothing we do is caused by what happens outside of us. If we believe that what we do is caused by forces outside of us, we are acting like dead machines” (Howatt, 2001, p. 8).

Where many in the medical and psychology fields would view human dysfunction in terms of an “illness”, Glasser suggests that negative symptoms are the result of poor choices, not a mental disease. For instance, someone who views themselves as depressed is viewed as being “depressing” as that individual is choosing to live in misery rather than changing his/her environment for the better (Howatt,...
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