Choice theory is the track on which the train of Reality Therapy runs. WDEP system, a technique belonging to Reality Therapy, stands for wants – doing – evaluation – planning.
Each of the letters in the acronym represents a cluster of ideas and possible interventions that operationalize the underlying theory: choice theory. The formulation of the procedures is intended to provide a flexible structure that effective counselors can use in an imaginative and pliable manner.
They are not steps followed mechanically one after another. Rather, they should be seen as components of an adjustable and elastic delivery system.
W (wants): Practitioners using the W.D.E.P. system approach clients by first asking them what it is they want. “What is it that you want?” is not only a reasonable question to ask clients, but it also helps them quickly organize their desires. When therapists effectively phrase this question, clients essentially deliver therapists their treatment goals on a platter.
The exploration of the world of wants also includes helping clients identify and develop their level of commitment. After clients formulate a goal or decide to work on satisfying a want, it is helpful for a counselor to ask, “How hard do you want to work at achieving your goal?” Part of
exploring the W is a discussion about how much energy clients are willing to expend and their willingness to work at making behavioral changes aimed at more satisfying and productive living.
Also a part of understanding the wants of the client, exploring perceptions includes understanding whether clients perceive themselves as worthy, as valuable human beings, and especially whether they believe they are in control of their lives or are victims of their past history, society, or their environment.
D (doing): Therapists next ask what it is their clients are doing to get what they want. As a part of this the client’s total behaviour (thoughts, feelings, actions and physiology) are explored.
Asking clients, “What is it that you are doing to get what you want?” allows therapists to quickly assess what stage of change their client is in. For example, clients who respond with “Nothing, should I?” are probably in the precontemplation stage because they likely have not even thought about the change. Clients responding with something like, “I haven’t done anything about it yet, but I am thinking about it” are likely in the contemplation stage because they are thinking about change but have not acted on it yet. Clients who say, “I have been trying a little bit, it’s hard for me to be consistent” are likely in the preparation stage because they are making small changes.
When clients respond with something similar to, “I have been at it consistently for a while now,” therapists can guess that the client is in the action phase of the stages of change.
In the next part, we will be looking at the E & P of the WDEP!