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Benefits of Integrating Theories 1

Running Head: BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING THEORIES

Tammie A. James

William Carey University

Benefits of Integrating Theories 2


Abstract

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Existentialism is a humanistic philosophical orientation which was first

developed in Europe primarily during the 20th century by such men as Martin

Heidegger, Soren Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre, who were all psychiatrists

(Nugent & Jones, 2009). Existentialism as a psychological and philosophical theory

differs from other philosophical orientations in that it is concerned primarily with the

daily issues and concerns which impact human beings as they live their lives (Viney

& King, 2003). According to Viney and King (2003), the Existential outlook on life

focuses on the individual and his capacity to “exercise freedom to rise above
environmental and social constraints.” One of the core ideas of existentialism is the

belief that all people are basically and possess the free choice to grow and develop.

According to Corey (2008), existential therapy is best described as a thought

process rather than a therapeutic style.

Reality Therapy on the other hand “is based upon the assumption that people

strive to gain control of their lives to fulfill their needs” (Corey, 2008). The clients’

attitudes, feelings, insights, past and unconscious motivations are not emphasized.

Instead, Corey (2008) states that “Reality Theory focuses on helping clients solve

problems and cope with the demands of reality by making more

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effective choices.” Reality Theory was developed in the United States by William

Glasser during the period from the 1960’s to the 1970’s. Glasser built upon his

theory and further developed it in during the 1990’s and finally renamed his theory

in 1996 as “Choice Theory.” This theory is based upon the premise that almost all

clients’ problems stem from the lack of satisfying present relationships in their

lives(Corey, 2008). It is taught all over the world today that the essence of reality

therapy is that we are responsible for what we choose to do (Corey, 2008). Glasser

believes that only what we choose to do in the present is relevant to our

perceptions of life since we can only control what we are presently doing. Corey

(2008) says that we may be a product of our past, but it cannot make us victims of

our past unless we choose to let it. Corey (2008) goes on to say that “reality

therapy is the methodology for implementing the key concepts of choice theory.

The basic ideology of choice theory is that we all behave, and that “almost all

behavior is chosen, and that we are driven by our genes to satisfy five basic
needs…” (Nugent and Jones, 2009). The five basic needs that are common to all

people according to William Glasser’s theory are: survival, love and belonging,

power, freedom and fun. Nugent and Jones (2009) went on to say that love and

belonging are the most important of these basic needs purported by choice theory

since a requirement for satisfying all of these five basic needs involves closeness

and connectedness to people we care about. Human relationships, then, is at the

root of choice theory. Nugent and Jones (2009) carries this line of thinking even

deeper by saying that Glasser believes that the lack of satisfying relationships is at

the core of almost all human problems, including mental illness, drug addiction,

violence, crime, school failure and even spouse and child abuse. The client’s self-

evaluation of his or her own behavior is encouraged in this therapeutic therapy

technique by asking such questions as, “What are you doing now? Is it working? and

“What are the consequences”? (Nugent and Jones (2009).

During the early to middle 1900’s the Existentialist Theory was introduced in

the United States and applied to the analytic practices of Rollo May, Irvin Yalom and

Victor Frankl.