Noted psychiatrist speaks in Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

Noted psychiatrist speaks in Glenwood Springs

Donna GrayPost Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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Noted psychiatrist and theorist William Glasser laid out his theories about personal choice to a group of educators and therapists Friday in Glenwood Springs. Glasser is internationally known for developing choice theory and reality therapy.He maintains that people are driven by six basic needs: survival, power, love, belonging, freedom and fun. He has also drawn fire from his colleagues in the profession for promoting mental health rather than diagnosing and treating the symptoms of mental illness with drugs.Besides promoting his therapeutic approach to treating people with mental or emotional difficulties, Glasser also has branched out into education. Educators can receive training at the William Glasser Institute in Chatsworth, Calif., in his approach to education of standard-based schooling rather than the traditional grades-based method.Most of the problems that people experience stem from our relationships with children, spouses or co-workers, relationships that become dysfunctional through the exercise of control.”All you can give anyone else (from birth to death) is information,” he said. “You can’t control how other people will act on the information you give them.”

Teaching children by exercising control over them, whether it’s by imposing grades or discipline, doesn’t work. Glasser has said that 95 percent of discipline problems are misguided efforts by children trying to achieve power.People are much more successful in their relationships, and mentally healthy, when they practice what he has labeled choice theory. We can only control our own feelings and behavior and we can shape our own world by how we choose to act and think.”You have to give up using external control if you want to get along with the people who are important in your life,” he said.Personal choice, personal responsibility and personal transformation are at the center of Glasser’s theory.His appearance Friday was brought about by Yampah Mountain High School, which has embraced his approach to education.

“Yampah got connected with him about 10 years ago,” said principal Tom Heald, when teacher Mary Ezequelle heard Glasser speak in Denver.Yampah teachers trained in choice theory, and the school adopted his education rubric that eliminated low grades.”It’s proficiency based,” Heald said. The approach has created a “culture of joy” in which “kids and staff want to be at school,” he said.The effects of Glasser’s methods are apparent at Yampah.”If you look at the population we serve … kids who have not had success in (traditional) school, now we have a 90 percent graduation rate,” he said.

Many Yampah students now succeed in nontraditional areas such as filmmaking.Most significantly, the atmosphere in the school has led to a virtual zero turnover rate among the staff. In 10 years two teachers have resigned, Heald said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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