Glasser’s Choice Theory is a psychological model that considers why people behave in the ways they do. It can often be difficult to understand why young people display challenging behaviour. However, it can become clear when applying their actions to the model.

For many of Releasing Potential Institute’s students, Glasser’s Choice Theory is a new concept challenging to their current practise and expertise. For one student on our Level 3 course, understanding ‘fun’ was an intriguing yet rewarding process. Read below to find out how Una applied the model to her current practice as an early years parental counsellor:

I recently came back from the first part of the level 3 The Management of Challenging Behaviourtraining with the Releasing Potential Institute. After a comprehensive introduction to a variety of behaviour management approaches, we concentrated on W. Glasser’s Choice TheoryHe argues that all our behaviours are driven (consciously or otherwise) by our need for:   

  • Survival 
  • Belonging/connection/love 
  • Power/significance/competence 
  • Freedom/autonomy
  • Fun/learning 

I was fascinated to find that W. Glasser included fun in his list of our core needs and I realised just how much I have been overlooking it in my work.  This insight prompted me to look for more fun in my sessions with my clients  

I started off by asking myself, what is fun? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure. I was heartened by this definition as it helped me to broaden my idea of what fun can be. Personally, I’m not that comfortable with a loud, exuberant kind of fun; I much prefer a quieter, awhhhh, this is nice kind of enjoyment. I felt reassured that that can count as fun as well.  

Then I moved on to ask….how does fun happen?

According to W. Glasser, fun is a genetic reward for learningFollowing on from my  behaviour management training, I think the learning in the sessions with clients happens when I arrive at a better understanding of what is going on in the their world; it’s about being able to share a moment with them with fewer filters and pre-conceived ideas about how they operate or agendas for where we need to get to. There is a certain innocence and spaciousness to the connection that happens in that moment.  

I spent about a month with these thoughts buzzing about in the background of my mind. As I went about my days, I began noticing what was helping to create more fun and enjoyment in the interactions  with my clients  – and what was standing in the way.

I compiled a list of what I learnt which I’ll share with you here;

 I hope you find it inspiring and find it useful if you, like me, could do with… a bit more fun. 

  • Expectations– these are on my list first because I think they are so important and sometimes surprisingly easy to change.  

​​Not helpful: expecting the session to be boring, tedious or stressful.  

Helpful: expecting to have fun during the session. I found it particularly helpful to be specific about what I’m going to have fun with. For example, I noticed that I was feeling flat before a session, so I decided that I will have fun with learning something new about the client I was going to meet. It helped me to find that quiet excitement about the session and it flew by.  

Helpful: shifting focus from the problem to meeting the client, the whole person. The problem becomes the backdrop, the container for that meeting.   

  • Staying available– I found that I need to feel spacious and present to have fun.

Not helpful: distractions. When there are too many things to think about it can be hard to put everything on hold and make the headspace to stay available in the moment as it unfolds. 

Helpful: rituals for cutting out distractions and becoming more present. My favourite is putting my phone away 10 minutes before a session and spending that time thinking about the things I would like to find out about the client I am about to meet. I find it helps me to clear my head and be more available. 

Helpful: having fun high enough on the priority list. There were a few times when I noticed I was getting stressed by how much I was trying to get done in one session. I decided that it was more important to enjoy the time together, so I rescheduled what I could for the next session.  

  • Ownership– respecting the client’s agenda and the choices they make. 

Not helpful: ‘helpful’ comments and suggestions can stop fun in its tracks. I noticed just how hard it can be to not comment on that one thing that seems to be sticking out and keep looking at the whole person instead. 

Helpful: putting my agenda on hold, noticing and welcoming client‘s ideas. Listening more, asking more questions and talking less.  

  • Time– or to be more precise: how the stress from the lack of time erodes the possibility of fun and how the spaciousness of having enough time invites the opportunities for fun. 

Not helpful: time pressure to get to the outcome in a certain time frame.  

Helpful: naming and re-framing expectations, where possible allowing more time.  

Helpful:  making time for connection, exploration, fun a part of our routine. 

Una Archer is a qualified Psychologist working with parents to support better outcomes for children.