Choice Theory & Reality Therapy Training

Many people are affected by mental health problems such as depression or panic disorders. These problems can make it harder to think clearly, manage how you feel, and work with other people. Sometimes you may feel helpless and hopeless. But you're not alone. Talking with others who suffer from these problems may help. There are three parts to radical acceptance. The first part is accepting that reality is what it is. The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause. The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.

  • · Learn powerful strategies to calmly manage all your life holds.
  • · Develop coping mechanisms to take control back in your life.
  • · You will no longer be a victim of your past, your emotions or your life circumstances.
  • · Learn an effective strategy for helping yourself and others make more effective decisions in your lives.
  • · Improve the significant relationships you have with the important people in your life.
  • · Learn strategies for more effectively getting what you want in life.
  • · Reduce the stress and distress you currently experience.

What is Reality Therapy?

Reality Therapy is a counseling method that was developed by Dr. William Glasser in 1965. However, it is so much more than a counseling technique. Reality Therapy is a problem solving method that works well with people who are experiencing problems they want help solving, as well as those who are having problems and appear to not want any assistance. Reality Therapy also provides an excellent model for helping individuals solve their own problems objectively and serves as the ideal questioning series during coaching sessions.

What is the Underlying Key?

The underlying key to Reality Therapy is the relationship that is established with the person who needs the help. This is most critical when you are attempting to help someone who doesn’t really want your help, such as a non-voluntary client, a resistant student or your sometimes even your own child. Without a positive relationship, you have no influence. To your helpee, you sound similar to the way adults sound in the Peanuts cartoons, “Whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa.” Your helpee doesn’t hear you without the relationship. Gary Zucov says, “Relationship is the root of all influence”. This is certainly true. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if the person you are attempting to help doesn’t believe you care and have their best interests at heart, they, most likely, will not be listening to you.

How Do You Build a Relationship?

So how do you build a relationship? Reality Therapy provides a model by instructing helpers to create a need-satisfying environment. The five basic needs of all humans are survival; love and belonging; power; freedom and fun. So, in a helping relationship, the helper must create an environment where it is possible for the person being helped to feel safe; to feel connected to the helper in some way; to be listened to and respected; to have some choices; and to have some fun or learning with the helper. After creating this need-satisfying environment and working hard to maintain it throughout the relationship, the helper can move on to the actual problem.

CTRT Upcoming Training

Basic Week

April 5-8, 2021 (Virtual)
May 31-June 3, 2021-(Virtual)
October 4-7, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Week

July 19-22, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Practicum

Kim Olver is inspiring! Her workshops are interactive and dynamic. Kim is an expert in ensuring the training she provides in Reality Therapy/Choice Theory is tailored to meet an organization’s needs. The Lead Management and Relationship Building concepts she has presented to our organization has assisted us in achieving improved communication and teamwork.

Therapists, Counselors, Social Workers & other Helping Professionals

Coaching for Excellence’s, LLC Basic Intensive Week in Reality Therapy and Choice Theory® will propel you to the next level in your therapeutic career. It will give you a road map to use in your sessions with clients. It will provide you with a model to help your clients self-evaluate their own behavior so they can take effective control of their lives.

I know some of the questions you ask yourself when you are having trouble reaching a client. What can I do differently? What will make the difference with this client? How can I get my clients to cooperate in their treatment? How can I help them make better choices? How can I get them to trust and confide in me?

If you’re like many helpers, you probably measure your success at therapy by whether or not your clients do the things that you suggest. This works great when your clients are cooperating but how do you feel when you base your worth as a therapist on something you have no control over—the choices another person makes? Reality therapy training will teach you a new gauge to measure by so you can combat helper stress and burnout.

Choice Theory® takes the mystery out of behavior—yours and theirs. It provides an explanation for why we do the things we do. Choice Theory® explains how a person’s perceptions shape their reality and teaches the four components of behavior. Armed with this new knowledge, problem conceptualization becomes much easier as well as determining the most appropriate treatment method. You will take a new and different approach to creating behavior change in your clients.

One of the things I like best about Choice Theory® is its wide-spread application—you can use it in your personal, as well as your professional life. It provides transferable skills for everyday life. Choice Theory® helped me to become a better counselor, mother, life partner, friend and a better all around person. When you truly embrace its teachings, Choice Theory® becomes a way of life instead of a hypothetical theory of human behavior.

Reality therapy is a short-term approach with long-term results. When you learn how to use it, you will be teaching your clients Choice Theory® so they can begin to use the process with themselves. Reality therapy helps clients move from a victim role to empowered self-reliance.

This is no one-day training event. This is a week-long workshop. There is a total of 27-30 hours of intense training. This is not some boring “stand and deliver” training where you sit passively and learn from some “expert instructor.” This is an interactive workshop, where you will be practicing the skills you learned. If you are not serious about taking your supervision skills to the next level, don’t come. This workshop will challenge you and you will learn more than you thought possible in 4-4½ days.

After taking Reality Therapy with Kim, I came away wanting more information on the process. She was so stimulating and the classes went so quickly, I was stunned the end came so quickly. The learning experience was more gratifying than expected. Kim treats everyone as if they are an old friend making her way of teaching like putting on an old comfortable sweater. Thanks Kim for everything.

And, if you act today, you will be enrolled in a Basic Intensive Week of training in the ideas and concepts of Dr. William Glasser’s Reality Therapy, Choice Theory®, Lead Management and Quality School Program. This week of training is approved through the William Glasser Institute and counts toward the first step in the Reality Therapy certification process. Here’s some of what I’ll be sharing with you:

  • · How to build effective relationships with even the most difficult clients.
  • · How to clarify what your client really wants.
  • · How to utilize a four-step approach to problem-solving and behavior change.
  • · How to create a successful plan and maximize its achievement.
  • · How to eliminate discipline problems

School Administrators & Teachers

The Quality School Program is an initiative that will change the entire culture of your school. There are currently twenty (20) Glasser-approved Quality Schools—some are secondary, some are elementary, some are public, some are private, some are special education schools, some are in wealthy communities and some are in areas of poverty. These concepts and ideas transcend culture and socio-economic status.

Years ago, when I realized I did not know what I was doing and hence did not have a right to counsel in the lives of persons facing difficulties and troubles, I became certified in RT. CT is the way God created us and RT provides the tools needed for effective, life changing counselors. I have used RT for over 20 year and highly recommend it for pastors.

In a world in which relationships are suffering, Choice Theory/Reality Therapy brings new hope. This hope can begin in the classroom being taught to our students and in turn they can deliver it to the world. This hope helps us heal disconnections, deliver responsiblity for our actions to ourselves not to others, and creates a brand new understanding of what we want and need. It drives us in a direction of action that we control ourselves and this is a powerful tool to share with our students. Don’t miss this opportunity to open the door of hope for yourself and your students!

CTRT Upcoming Training

Basic Week

April 5-8, 2021 (Virtual)
May 31-June 3, 2021-(Virtual)
October 4-7, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Week

July 19-22, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Practicum

The following are the results realized by the twenty Glasser-approved Quality Schools:

    • · Relationships are based upon trust and respect, and all discipline problems, not incidents, have been eliminated.
    • · Total Learning Competency is stressed and an evaluation that is below competence or what is now a “B” has been eliminated.
      All schooling as defined by Dr. William Glasser has been replaced by useful education.
    • · All students do some Quality Work each year that is significantly beyond competence. All such work receives an “A” grade or higher, such as an “A+”.
    • · Students and staff are taught to use Choice Theory in their lives and in their work in school.
    • · Parents are encouraged to participate in study groups to become familiar with the ideas of Dr. William Glasser.
    • · Students do better on state proficiency tests and college entrance examinations. The importance of these tests is emphasized in the school.
    • · Staff, students, parents and administrators view the school as a joyful place

Every student really can succeed and implementing Quality School ideas convinces even the most “tuned out” students that they, too, can succeed in school.

Schools have successfully applied for NCLB grant money to implement the Quality School training. Application of the ideas can be incorporated into your Continuous Improvement Plans.

Training in Choice Theory® not only helps individuals in their professional life, but it provides wide-spread applicability to one’s personal life. When your staff is more satisfied personally, they will be able to more fully devote themselves to the work at hand. Training can be done during staff development days or during the summer at your convenience.

Company Leaders and Decision Makers

Lead Management and Choice Theory® is an initiative that can change the entire culture of your company (see Dr. Whitmore’s comment above). Some companies are looking for a major overhaul. These are usually workplaces with a lot of relationship issues, low production, low morale and a lack of enthusiasm for one’s work evident. What follows is an excerpt from my article, “Top Ten Reasons to Implement Choice Theory® in Your Organization:”

I have assisted many companies with implementing the concepts and principles of Choice Theory (CT) in the workplace over the years. Their reasons ranged from mere curiosity to desiring a total immersion of their company into the concepts and principles of Choice Theory. Those companies that were committed to learning the Choice Theory model and implementing it correctly received surprising results.

In addition:

  • · Research has shown that good training programs are a big factor in encouraging employee retention.
  • · Implementation of these ideas will increase customer satisfaction.
  • · Choice Theory® provides individuals with tools for use in their personal, as well as professional life. When your workforce is managing its personal lives better, it will be better able to thrive on the job.
  • · Choice Theory® is highly empowering for both employees and supervisors, which can be instrumental in reducing helper stress and burnout. Choice Theory® helps people move from a victim mode to that of empowerment.

Clergy Members

I know the clergy often find themselves in a unique position. They are servants of God who are also charged with providing for their congregation. I’m sure this ca

n be a daunting task. As a counselor, I know that many parishioners would prefer to talk with their spiritual advisor about their personal and family problems than they would consult a professional therapist. This can be seriously a challenging situation for clergy. While you have the Bible as your foundation and sometimes can clearly see a better path for your congregation members, you may not have the counseling background or experience to provide the help they truly need. Reality Therapy can change that!

increased employee satisfaction, resulting in less complaining and bickering on the job.

A common language resulting in a unified approach to conceptualization of issues.

Room for individuals’ strengths and unique approaches within the overarching culture of Choice Theory.

Project Control refers to the tasks performed by the project manager to ensure the project remains on schedule and budget. This is one of the most difficult aspects of project management and consumes a large part of project management training courses. Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer &. In project management a project consists of a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Another definition is: a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case. Projects can also be seen as temporary organization. About the project meaning. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple. This project began as a conversation between a student and his professor. History major, Marco Dracopoli ’14, approached his professor, Dr. Ian Isherwood, about writing a research paper on leadership in the trenches. The resulting paper 'A New Officer for a New Army: Major Hugh J.C. Peirs in the Great War' was based on his ancestor’s First World War letters.

More effective communication between workers at the same level as well as improved communication throughout the hierarchical management structure.

Decrease in employee on-the-job stress, resulting in less sick time taken.

Decreased employee turnover, resulting in higher profits for the company.

Increased creativity among all employees.

Enhanced relationships between management and workers and among workers.

Improved services to customers, again resulting in an increase in profits.

Decreased resistance and increased cooperation with management’s agenda.

What Kim showed us in such a beautiful way is that experiencing Choice Theory in real life is not a “Theory,” it’s a “Reality.” That no matter who you are, no matter what your background is, and no matter what religion or status you have, as long as you don’t try to use your power to control others or try to change others, and instead you focus on yourself and what you can do differently or better to improve your relationship with others, you will be successful in improving your relationship with whomever you want to, no matter who that other person is.

If you are already trained in pastoral counseling and have a good handle on meeting the counseling needs of your parishioners, great! Reality Therapy training can provide you more tools for your toolbox. You will gain additional knowledge to make what you already do even more effective.

Reality Therapy is a relative easy, four-step process to help people reflect on their own behavior and solve problems. You, the helper, are really not the expert with all the answers, but rather you provide the guidance to help your parishioners figure out what path is best for them. Reality Therapy will provide you with a structure, a road map if you will, for providing counseling interventions for people in need.

Choice Theory®, the theory behind Reality Therapy is a nondenominational approach but clearly integrates well with Biblical teachings. When others have asked me to explain Choice Theory® briefly, I tell them it’s similar to the Serenity Prayer. Choice Theory® is about helping people stop wasting their energy on attempting change things they have no control over and helping them to use their resources more wisely on things they can change—their own behavior and thinking. So many of today’s problems are caused by unhappy relationships—couples, parents and children, people at work. No one wants to change what they are doing so they can improve the relationships. It is easier to stay stuck and blame the other people for what they are or are not doing. Unfortunately, this approach leaves people very frustrated and not knowing where to turn. Choice Theory® helps them understand why people do what they do and helps them create a plan to affect change by changing something they are doing. It’s a very powerful process.

Accepting Reality Bodydialectical Behavioral Training

Here are some of what I’ll be sharing with you:

  • · How to build effective relationships with those you are attempting to help.
  • · How to clarify what a person really wants.
  • · How to utilize a four-step approach to problem-solving and behavior change.
  • · How to create a successful plan and maximize its achievement.

CTRT Upcoming Training

Basic Week

April 5-8, 2021 (Virtual)
May 31-June 3, 2021-(Virtual)
October 4-7, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Week

July 19-22, 2021-Chicago, IL

Advanced Practicum

Self-Development Enthusiast

If you’re like me, you often find yourself wondering why you and the people around you do the things you do. Before learning Choice Theory®, I would often just shake my head at some of the things those close to me would do. Then, I learned Choice Theory® and began looking at the choices I was making in relation to the “craziness” around me. That was both frustrating and empowering. I learned that ANYTHING could happen in my life and I could handle it based on what I chose to do or think. It was like I was handed the genie in the lamp and told I could have all my wishes for the rest of my life. Now, don’t get me wrong—“bad things” still happen in my life but with my understanding of Choice Theory®, I can now manage anything life has to throw at me. I feel very powerful and free. Sound good? You too can have that ability. Choice Theory® can help you in every aspect of your life—it becomes the new way you view the world. When you apply these concepts, you will become a better person, a better mother or father, a better life partner, a better employee or supervisor and overall you will have more peace in your life. Your relationships with other people will become more satisfying and you will move closer to those you most care about. Stop believing that some degree of unhappiness is necessary in this life and that relationships are always difficult and tumultuous. It doesn’t have to be that way! You can be happy and satisfied in your relationships. All it takes is some adjustments in the things you are doing and the thoughts that dominate your life. Learn the concepts of Choice Theory® and see the difference it will make.

  • · Take control of your life.
  • · Increase your inner peace and satisfaction.
  • · Get more of what you want out of your life.
  • · Improve your important relationships.

Reality Therapy Certification

Certification is a five-step process. If you are interested in certification in Choice Theory® and Reality Therapy, then this Basic Intensive Week is the first step. The certification process can occur in as little as 18 months. Certification can take as long as a person wants. There is no expiration date on training. The following are the steps in the certification process:

Basic Intensive * Basic Practicum * Advanced Intensive * Advanced Practicum * Certification


Glasser Institute for Choice Theory provides for a scholarship program for individuals demonstrating economic need. There are a limited number of full paid and half paid scholarships available, so apply early. Should you be interested in applying, please contact me at 708-957-6047 or email me at [email protected] and I will give you the necessary information about applying for a scholarship.

Continuing Education Credits

In Illinois:
National Board of Certified Counselor CEUs
Illinois LPC, LCPC, LSW and LCSW CEUs
Illinois teacher CPDUs

In Pennsylvania:
National Board of Certified Counselor CEUs
Pennsylvania LSW, LCSW and LPC CEUs

Academic Credits

Whitworth College will provide undergraduate or graduate credit for participants attending Institute-approved Intensive Weeks. Graceland University will provide graduate credits for Intensive Weeks and the Certification Week.

By Stephanie Vaughn, PsyD

This presentation is an excerpt from the online course “DBT in Practice: Mastering the Essentials”.


  • Distress tolerance skills are used for crisis situations
  • Distress tolerance skills assist in accepting reality when reality is difficult to accept and/or strong urges to engage in unskillful behavior are present
  • Popular Distress Tolerance skills include the TIP Skill, STOP Skill, Half-Smile, Willing Hands, and Radical Acceptance

Although most mental health treatments emphasize change, this module pays tribute to the value which exists in accepting reality just as it is rather than attempting to make things different. The skills taught in this module will not solve the problem but will assist in not making the problem worse. These skills should be combined with problem solving and not overuse to the point that they become an avoidance of engaging in life and creating one’s life worth living. The distress tolerance skills help with surviving a crisis and in that vein help to determine what is an actual crisis versus what is something that’s just uncomfortable.

So a crisis is defined as being something that is very high stress that has the possibility of really bad outcomes. Crises are short term and there is a strong urge for immediate resolution.

So there is a whole other set of skills in the distress tolerance module that relates to when the crisis is addiction but we wouldn’t be going over those in this module. Distress tolerance skills will also help create short-term relief for painful situations. They help to minimize the risk of impulsive actions that come as a result of the desire to alleviate the pain that an individual is in during a crisis. So there are times when the solution to the problem actually makes the problem worse. And the distress tolerance module is created to provide another variety of skills that could be utilized instead of the usual go to that the patient have used in the past. Distress tolerance skills also help with reality acceptance. So when we’re accepting reality, this is not the same thing as approving of reality. There is a heavy zen influence in this module and the acceptance of reality is thought to prevent suffering which comes from the non-acceptance of pain. So pain is inevitable and human beings are subject to pain in a variety of different forms throughout their lives. However, if non-acceptance is added to the pain, then we have an additional component of suffering that goes along with it. So the idea in the distress tolerance module is to eliminate suffering and therefore, we are only left with pain which doesn’t sound fantastic but it’s much more tolerable than pain plus suffering.

So distress tolerance skills are supposed to be used when there is intense physical and/or emotional pain and that pain cannot be alleviated quickly or it cannot be alleviated without causing additional problems. You can use the distress tolerance skills when there are strong urges to engage in unskillful behavior. When a person is in emotion mind, there are often very strong urges to fall back on unskillful behavior that has been successful in alleviating distress in the short term but has caused long-term pain. This includes self-harm, fantasizing about suicide, impulsive sexual behavior and substance abuse as well as multiple other problem behaviors. When the emotional pain is too strong and it feels overwhelming, this is another opportunity to use the distress tolerance skills. And finally, these skills can be used when there is a need to be able to be productive or to be able to focus, to be able to center and interact with someone, for example, but the person feels too emotionally overwhelmed and does not feel like that they can get themselves together. So this may be a group of skills that an individual uses at work when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. Go to the restroom and then can walk through a few of these.

So some of the skills that are taught in this module include several acronyms and for lack of time we’re not going to go into every one of these but I’m going to pick a few to touch on. So the TIP skill is one of the fastest and most popular of the distress tolerance skills, fastest in that it alleviates distress very quickly. And clients are encouraged to use this skill when they are very emotionally overwhelmed and strong urges to self-harm are present, for example.

So the TIP acronym stands for tipping, this is the T, tipping the temperature of your face with very cold water. The idea is to bring on the dive reflex and bring the physiology down to slow it down. The I stands for intense exercise of approximately 20 minutes. The P stands for paced breathing as well as paired muscle relaxation. So slowing down and bringing the body’s physiology down to a more normative level.

Another acronym is the STOP skill. And STOP stands for – Literally, the S is stop. The T is take a step back and this is both a figurative and a literal take a step back. So in an interpersonal situation, taking a step back might mean literally taking a full step back away from the other person rather than stepping forward and further instigating a conflict. The O is observe and the observe is the same as the mindfulness skill of observe which is to take in with all of the senses everything that is happening, not thoughts about what’s happening although those can be observed but not conclusions about what’s happening. So just observing the data that’s present. And P is to proceed mindfully. So it involves a pause and then a forward motion into the decision of what to do.

Another acronym is the ACCEPTS skill. And this stands for engaging in activities, that’s the A. Contributing which is doing something for someone else. Comparisons which is juxtaposing a previous period of your life with your current one, juxtaposing a previous period of your life that was much worse with the one that you’re in or comparing yourself to someone else whose life is much worse. E, emotions which is generating different emotions than the ones that you’re feeling. P is pushing away, sort of like putting the problem on a shelf. T or thoughts, engaging in thinking about math problems, making a grocery list, making a holiday list, any thoughts that compete with the thoughts and emotions that are present during the time of the crisis. And sensations which is using the five senses in order to ground.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Near Me

In addition to these acronyms, self-soothing is encouraged and this is doing things that are comforting and feel good, incorporating positive activities, things that one would enjoy, distracting which can be self-soothe and distraction at the same time, taking one’s thoughts away from the problem and putting them on something else. And it’s easy to see how these skills could be overused or could be an avoidance if practiced at the expense of problem solving. So these skills should be combined with problem solving. But in the case that the problem cannot be solved and a time period has to elapse before anything can be done, it’s important to be able to use these skills to cope with the emotions that arise as you’re waiting on the solution or as you’re waiting on the opportunity to problem solve.

So one of the most popular DBT skills is encompassed in the distress tolerance section and this is radical acceptance. So radical acceptance is beyond just typical acceptance. The term radical meaning fully, wholly, absolutely, 100% accepting reality as it is. And acceptance again does not mean approval. It means looking at things in the face. So a radical acceptance of locking your keys in your car would not be to stare through the window wondering how it happened. It would be to immediately move to a solution of calling a locksmith. So you cannot move to problem solving until the problem has been radically accepted. So we have to have acceptance in order to have change. In order to change the fact that I’ve dropped an egg on the floor and it’s made a mess, I have to first accept that that has happened rather than staring at it and wishing that it wasn’t true.

Accepting Reality Bodydialectical Behavioral Training Reliaslearning

So the final skills that I’m going to go over are half smile and willing hands. And both of these capitalize on the feedback loop that exists between the body and mind. When we take a posture of openness which is willing hands, this is literally opening one’s hands up and showing the wrists, when we do that when we’re angry or we make a soft smile, we call the Mona Lisa smile, when stressed, then the mind starts to mimic what the body is saying is happening. And although the inside may feel very high strung, if the outside suggest relaxation or patience or willingness, then the inside will start to match.

The key points for the distress tolerance skills. The distress tolerance skills are used for crisis situations. Distress tolerance skills assist in accepting reality when reality is difficult to accept and/or strong urges to engage in unskillful behavior are present. Popular distress tolerance skills include the TIP skill, STOP skill, half smile, willing hands and radical acceptance.

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