Reality Therapy


Reality therapy is devised by William Glaser in 1965 which focuses on the person’s behavior and how that behavior keeps him or her from achieving life goals. The approach was developed while Glaser is working with persons with delinquent behavior, unsuccessful school performance and emotional problems. This therapy is considered a cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment.

Approach of Reality Therapy

William Glaser believed that people who are unsuccessful often blame their problems on other people, the system or the society. It is Glaser’s belief that these types of people can only find their own identities through a responsible behavior. The focus of approach of counseling and problem solving in reality therapy focuses on the here-and-now of the client and how to create a better future.

In this therapy, the individual is challenged to examine himself for ways in which his own behavior obstructs his attempts of achieving his life goal. The focus of Reality Therapy is to help counselees take ownership of their behavior and responsibility for the direction their lives take.

With reality therapy, whatever happened in our lives or what has been done in the past, the person can still choose behavior that will help him meet his needs more effectively in the future. It is believed that these needs that a person has to effectively meet are the following:

  1. Power – this includes a person’s achievement and feeling worthwhile. Winning is also included here.
  2. Love and belonging – this includes families, loved ones, relatives and groups.
  3. Freedom – independence, autonomy, personal “space”
  4. Fun – pleasure and enjoyment
  5. Survival – nourishment, shelter
Process Involved in Reality Therapy

In practicing reality therapy, two major components should be considered:

  • A trusting environment should be created.
  • Therapeutic techniques should be utilized to help a person discover what they really WANT, reflect on their current activities and behavior and devise a new plan to fulfill that WANT effectively in the future.

The processes taking place in reality therapy are:

  1. Developing a good RAPPORT with the client. To make the entire process effective, trust and rapport should be built at the beginning.
  2. The current behavior (not the previous one) should be examined and evaluated by the client with the help of a psychotherapist. The therapist will ask the client to make a value judgment about his current behavior.
  3. Help the client plan a new behavior that can be possibly done that works better than the current one.
  4. The participant must make a commitment to carry out the plan.
  5. There should be no punishment to be implemented. The therapist however, should stress to the client that there are no excuses and to never give up.
Summary of Facts about Reality Therapy

Focus of Reality Therapy: Help counselees take ownership of their behavior and responsibility for the direction their lives take.

Basic Premise of Reality Therapy: Regardless of what has happened to us in our lives, or what we have done in the past, we are living and making choices here and now.