What is reality therapy?
Reality therapy generally believes that individuals choose their behaviour and as a result, are responsible for not only what they are doing, but also how they think and feel. Clients develop the psychological strength to evaluate their own behaviour and acquire more effective behaviour with the support of a warm and accepting counselling environment.
Originally created in the 1960’s by William Glasser, one of the important beliefs of reality therapy is that our behaviour is not caused by environmental factors, but rather by our internal forces and choices, ultimately leading to the key focus of accountability within ourselves. Reality therapy says that it is possible to choose a total behaviour without choosing all of its components – in other words, we may be feeling a certain way but can choose to think or behave in a different way, in spite of our feelings.
How does reality therapy work?
Glasser felt that humans have 5 basic needs, and that emotional or psychological distress occurs when these needs are not being met:
- Love and belonging
Reality therapy’s focus is on the present – not past experiences. In this type of therapy, you will:
- Explore your wants
- Explore your needs
- Explore your perceptions of an individual
- Understand and evaluate your current behaviour
- Plan and work on commitments and strategies
Basically, if you have a goal or desire to fulfill one of the basic needs, then you will learn about how your current behaviour is hindering achieving that goal and what other choices you can make to instead, realize the goal or meet the need. Unique procedures that are found in reality therapy include: the art of skillful questioning, particular self-help procedures, and paradoxical techniques
When is reality therapy used?
Reality therapy can be used to treat the following:
- Mental health disorders
- Personality disorders
- Stress management
- Marriage and relationship concerns
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.