Letter: A worthy mission
November 22, 2014
I want to commend the Hope Center for its recent presentation at the Wheeler Opera House. Dr. Carl Hammerschlag was an excellent choice to highlight the Hope Center's campaign aimed at erasing mental-health stigma. During his presentation, Hammerschlag avoided dwelling on mental illness and advocated for a biological need to "connect with each other."
It's interesting to note that Hammerschlag's stance on mental health has many similarities to the work of Dr. William Glasser. A true pioneer in the field of psychology, Glasser, the creator of reality therapy and choice theory psychology, has challenged many of the traditional values and beliefs which he referred as the "flat worldview of psychology" embraced by many of his colleagues. Glasser, a board-certified life member of the American Psychiatric Association, practiced private counseling for 32 years. While working with his clients, Glasser utilized reality therapy. This model of intervention is based on choice theory — a belief system that explains how and why we behave.
In his influential book "Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom," Glasser references the success of his utilization of reality therapy while working with severely psychotic patients as a resident at the Brentwood veterans hospital in West Los Angeles. Glasser writes: "During my last four months on service, using the beginnings of reality therapy, I was able to discharge thirty-two of the thirty-six patients I was assigned. Many had been crazy for years, and all but four chose to be sane enough to leave."
Much of the stigma associated with mental health can be attributed to a health care system that focuses on and labels an individual as being mentally ill. The Hope Center's willingness to focus on mental health and the strengths of individuals coping with mental-health issues is a much-needed and worthy mission that needs to expand throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.
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