Tag Archives: Wubbolding

Reality Therapy: Developing Effective Plans

With Wubbolding

Thanks to Molly Molloy, the Montana Office of Rural Health, the Montana Flex Program, and the Montana Hospital Association, I had a chance to present as part of a “Rethinking Resiliency” series this morning. One question that came up had to do with how we can make better plans to facilitate our self-improvement. The best answer I could come up with was to follow Robert Wubbolding’s guidance on effective planning, from a reality therapy perspective. All of the preceding leads me to posting a section from our Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories textbook on Reality Therapy and Planning.

Here we go:

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Wubbolding (1988, 1991, 2000, 2011 . . . and pictured above) has written extensively about how reality therapists help clients develop plans for making positive life changes. Therapists help clients make positive and constructive plans. Wubbolding (1988) uses the acronym SAMI2C3 to outline the essential ingredients of an effective plan:

S = Simple: Effective plans are simple. If a plan generated in reality therapy is too complex, the client may become confused and therefore not follow through.

A = Attainable: Effective plans are attainable or realistic. If the plan is unattainable, the client can become discouraged.

M = Measurable: Effective plans are measurable. Clients need to know if the plan is working and if they’re making progress.

I = Immediate: Effective plans can be enacted immediately, or at least very soon. If clients have to wait too long to implement a plan, motivation may be compromised.

I = Involved: Helping professionals can be involved with their client’s or student’s planning. This should be done ethically and in ways that promote client independence.

C = Controlled: The planner has exclusive control over effective plans. Avoid having clients develop plans that are contingent on someone else’s behavior.

C = Committed: Clients need to commit to their plans. If a client is only half-heartedly invested in the plan, the plan is less likely to succeed.

C = Continuous: Effective plans are continuously implemented. When the process is going well, reality therapy clients have continuous awareness of what they want and of their plan for getting what they want. This high level of awareness reminds us of mindfulness or conscious-raising therapeutic techniques.

Wubbolding (1988) also recommended that individuals learning to conduct reality therapy develop a plan for themselves. He noted that to be effective reality therapists, practitioners should obtain consultation and/or supervision from certified reality therapists (in addition, we recommend that you practice living your life using choice theory rules; see Putting it in Practice 9.3).

Putting it in Practice 9.3

Living Choice Theory: The Four Big Questions

Four questions have been developed to help students and clients live the choice theory lifestyle (Wubbolding, 1988). These questions are derived from Wubbolding’s WDEP formula. During one full week, do your best to keep these four reality therapy questions on your mind:

  1. What do you want? (Wants)
  2. What are you doing? (Doing)
  3. Is it working? (Evaluation)
  4. Should you make a new plan? (Planning)

Every day you’re operating with a personal plan. The plan may or may not be any good and it may or may not be clear. The point is this: You’re thinking and doing things aimed toward getting your basic needs met. Therefore, consistently ask yourself the four preceding questions. This will help make your plan and choices more explicit.

Wubbolding’s four questions are powerful and practical. Think about how you might apply them when doing therapy with a teenager. Now think about how you might apply them as a consultant for a local business. Whether you’re consulting with a teenager or a business leader, there are hardly any other four questions that are more relevant and practical.

In the space that follows each question, answer the four questions for yourself today.

  1. What do you want? ________________________________________
  2. What are you doing? _______________________________________
  3. Is it working? _____________________________________________
  4. Should you make a new plan? _______________________________

After you’ve answered the questions, go back and think about what you’ve written as your answer for Question 1.

ACA Conference in Cincinnati: Day One

Yesterday was Day One of my American Counseling Association conference experience and it has led me to notice that whenever I dish up my plate, it always seems there’s a little food that falls off the edges. My grandmother used to say my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but that’s silly because I’ve looked at my stomach; if my eyes really were bigger, I’d look like a brother from another planet. Obviously, this is a metaphor.

The point is that I always try to fit too much material into my presentations. Yesterday I presented a 6 hour “Learning Institute” titled, “Counseling Challenging Teenagers.” It was a very nice experience with about 20 participants who care enough about working with teenagers to show up in Cincinnati 2 days before the conference actually starts for a spendy workshop. I was impressed with the participants and the questions and the dedication to learning and serving teenagers. Very cool.

However, not surprisingly, because as Robert Frost would undoubtedly contend, my reach consistently exceeds my grasp, I didn’t quite fit every part of the workshop content into the workshop . . . which brings me to the purpose of this post . . . which is to describe my next two postings . . . which will be on alternative to suicide and neodissociation as a suicide intervention . . . which were the two parts of the workshop that exceeded my grasp.

Highlights of Day One: The man who drove 18 hours from Maryland to attend (and managed to mostly stay awake); the woman who helped with the workshop as a volunteer and then was super-giddy about getting me to take a photo of her with Bob Wubbolding (and then, I think to humor me, acted excited to include me in an additional photo with the two of them); finding a Starbucks, Panera Bread, and Chipotle within blocks of the Convention Center.

More soon.