Reality Therapy Contents


Reality Therapy


Introduction 3

Core ideas of the reality therapy 3

Action 4

Behavior 4

Control 5

Emphasis on the present 5

Reality therapy and choice theory 5

Process of the reality therapy 6

Connection 7

Assessment of personality 7

Scheduling for future behavioral changes 7

Commitment 8

Conclusion 9

References: 10

Reality Therapy


Reality therapy has been in existence since the 1960s after itsdevelopment by a renowned psychologist, Dr. William Glasser, of theUnited States of America. The main aim of the therapy was to helppeople to make well-informed and responsible decisions forthemselves. While making these decisions, the main elements arebehavior, plan and mentality, as manifestations of personality.According to Dr. Glasser, the main aim of the therapy was to makepeople feel happier and lad a healthier life. The initialdevelopments of the therapy took place in a prison setting, where Dr.Glasser studied the inmates and assessed traditional methods ofinterrelationships. The guiding principle of the therapy is that allpeople are the same, and that they share common needs every otherday. As such, the driving needs and forces that shape a person’spersonality are the same that influence the makeup of the society.The discourse highlights reality therapy by assessing its core ideas,process and application.

Coreideas of the reality therapy

According to Dr. Glasser, the main idea of the reality therapy is tohelp the therapists create a warm and trusting relationship with theclients (Robey, 2011). In order to do this, the therapist has to bein a position of evaluating the basic needs that make the clientscomfortable in their own space, which are commonly enjoyment, senseof belonging and recognition. As such, reality therapists view thehuman nature as one that needs all internal and external elements ofsatisfaction to be purposefully satisfied. At the same time, Ellis etal (2011) asserts that human activities are “total” and are oftenassociated with actions, feelings, thinking and psychology. As such,every human being’s behavior is purposeful, and is guided by thecore ideas of the reality therapy. In this context, the core ideasidentified by psychologists are action, behavior, control andemphasis on the present.


This is perhaps one of the most influential elements of the realitytherapy. According to Dr. Glasser, psychologists ought to assume thatthere are basic needs that underpin the sense of personality. Thereare freedom, fun, survival, compassion and power. Given this, theonly explanation for sadness is when someone lacks one of theseelements. For instance, a person needs love and compassion to makethem feel appreciated in the family and the society. When in lack ofthe same, these individuals are most likely to feel not wanted,hence, unsatisfied. Palmatier (2013) asserts that the fulfilment ofthe five needs gives people a sense of belonging, and as such, thecouncilors need to communicate the same to them.


Robey (2011) asserts that a person’s present perception of thingsinfluences their attitude and behavior. People process informationthat they gather from experiences, create a perception regardingthem, and act in response to these experiences. As such, they are inconstant emotional changes, often attempting to react to theenvironment according to what they perceive of it. In counselling,the reality therapists often attempt to change what the client doesin order to improve their thoughts and feelings about variousexperiences. This approach is similar to the concept ofperson-centered psychotherapy (Palmatier, 2013). In order to help theclients to improve their experiences, the counselors focus oneliminating elements that facilitate negative behavior, and build onthose that facilitate positive behavior.


One of the distinguishing characteristics of the human nature is thedesire to control what goes around. For instance, toddlers tend totake control of things that are around them, such as toys. When theyfail to do this, they tend to get aggressive and easily irritated.The same goes for adults, who take actions to control their basicneeds, such as shelter and housing. According to Robey (2011), thisaspect of the reality therapy is manifested in the tendency ofcounselling clients to take control of the or own happiness andsatisfaction. This is closely related to the choice theory, which hasbeen discussed by many scholars.

Emphasison the present

The focus of reality therapists is the client’s present and future(Palmatier, 2013). Despite the fact that there are points that needmaking reference to a client’s past, reality therapists only do sowith the intent of associating the experiences with the present andfuture ones. For instance, clients of reality therapy may need tobuild a better relationship with their partners. It is observed thatthe clients will want to focus on things that they need to do, orthose that their partners need to do, to bring satisfaction to theirlives. As such, in reality therapy, the focus of a happy relationshipis not based on what happened in the past, rather what needs to bedone to improve the present and future status.

Realitytherapy and choice theory

Reality therapy is a model of counselling that stemmed out of theconcept of the choice theory (Au, 2014). Scholars assert that theunderpinning principle of the choice theory is that the only personthat one can control effectively is the self. Therapists have anaffirmation that unsatisfactory and non-existent connections are thesource of almost all human problems. In this regard, changing thingsand making one happy about him or herself is dependent on the choicesthat they can make themselves. As such, therapists use the choicetheory to help people focus on the present and avoid negativity,which is common in unsatisfactory relationships. While designing thechoice theory, Dr. Glasser focused on the existence of a “qualityworld” (Bradley, 2014). This is one where almost everything is doneto perfection, and positively influences a person’s life. Withinthe framework of the quality world, the choice theory defines thecomparison point, where people can weight their perceptions with whatthey wish to achieve in life. Choice theory, therefore, fullyexplains people’s behavior, which is a central point of focus inreality therapies.

Processof the reality therapy

Ellis et al. (2011) emphasize that the environment is a criticalelement that reality therapists need to address when dealing withtheir clients. As such, the councilors have to ensure that theyestablish a personal involvement with the client. Such an environmenthas to have elements of friendliness and accompaniment. While doingthis, the counselors necessitate a satisfying environment, which ischaracterized by four major elements. These are physical andemotional securities, strength, cognition, choices and connectedness.While doing this, the clients are oriented to have an attitude thatgives no room for erratic behavior, one that may adversely jeopardizetheir satisfaction and subsequently, happiness. According to Au(2014), the best way that reality therapists can do this is toinstill a culture of continuous practice in the field, during whichthey get a chance to inspire change in the clients. On this note,scholars have identified four main elements of the process of thereality therapy. These are connection, assessment of individualcharacteristics, developing a plan for future behavioral changes andfocusing on obligation (Wubbolding, 2013 and Au, 2014).


Watson et al. (2014) assert that professional counselors have toestablish a concrete relationship with their clients, regardless ofthe nature of counselling that is involved. This is the first andcritically crucial step, as it determines the extent to which thesubsequent stages of the therapy will be successful. According toBradley (2014), in many cases, the therapist is the only person withwhom the client fully opens to and engages in personal matters. Inorder to handle this confidentiality to the maximum, the therapistneeds to create a close connection, which defines the involvement ofboth parties in the activity. Positive emphasis on closeness is keyto the success of many critical counselling sessions.

Assessmentof personality

A therapist needs to assess and evaluate the personality of theclient, as a prerequisite to a successful counselling. As such, theyneed to put emphasis on closely reading and determining factors thatinfluence the client’s current behavior. One of the ways of doingthis, as proposed by Bradley (2014), is asking the clients to conducta self-evaluation and determining whether their traits are beneficialor detrimental to them. Given this, the client feels that they are incontrol of their own personality hence, guiding the therapy tosuccess.

Schedulingfor future behavioral changes

One of the strategies that successful therapists use is planning forthe client’s future behavior in time. While doing this, thetherapist has to ensure that they determine the factors thatnecessitate the client’s current behavior, and be able to modifythem so as to facilitate the desired future behavior (Watson et al.,2014). For instance, if the client is suffering from a mentalbreakdown facilitated by an abusive relationship, the therapist hasto study the element so the relationship that make it detrimental,and be able to propose a plan for future change. By doing this, theclient avoids plunging into a new environment that only results inworse outcome.


Therapists have to ensure that their clients make full commitment toplans. Klinger &amp Gray assert that some clients end up gettingback to the same problem simply by lacking commitment to plannedbehavioral change. While some clients come up with excuses andexplanations for their erratic behavior after their therapies,scholars have identified lack of commitment as the core cause offailure (Watson et al., 2014 and Wubbolding, 2013). One way ofcommitting to future behavioral change is having a well spelt outroutine of conduct, which the clients will adhere to, with theassistance of the councilors.

Application of the reality therapy

The therapy is commonly applied in solving sensitive issues.According to Klinger &amp Gray (2015), it is usable in suchsituations, mainly because it helps the clients to bridge the gapbetween intolerance and ignorance. This is often achieved throughobjective education and equality in social settings, for instance,community schools and organizations. At the same time, the therapy isused in helping family members to solve relationship issues. Wheneverin difficult situations, clients can seek the reality therapy to helpthem figure out the source of their unhappiness, and find possiblesolutions forward.

According to Klinger &amp Gray (2015), the therapy is critical inevaluating failures in a number of social settings, for instance,offices. The therapy is used to encompass thoughtfulness andcompassion in a realistic way. For instance, there are manysituations where employees feel that they are not satisfied withtheir work environment, and normally fail to get along with theircolleagues and management, often affecting their output. In such asituation, a counselor uses the reality therapy to give the client anopportunity to express their needs and desires, after which, they cancreate a plan to help them move along. By creating a deeperunderstanding of the situation, the reality therapy helps people tosolve conflicts amicably, and improve their relationships.


The reality therapy has proven to be an effective psychotherapyapproach to counselling in the modern world. Despite the fact thatthe therapy differs from the normal methods used in counseling, itapplication and outcomes have been successful. The therapy draws uponthe concept of the choice theory, which addresses personal needs andsatisfaction issues. The reality therapy has a number of processesfor successful application, which have been verified over the yearsby professional counselors. One of the characteristics of the therapyis that it almost exclusively deals with present challenges affectingindividuals, as such, eliminating ambiguity while helping clients. Inapplication, the reality therapy is used in helping individuals solverelationship related issues, especially in the social settings, suchas family and workplace. While there are a number of interventionsthat can crop out of using this approach in psychotherapy, thesuccess of the counselling draws upon the input by the counselor andclient as well.


Au, J. (2014). An EducationalPhilosophy Incorporating the ideas of William Glasser andTransactional Analysis.

Bradley, E. L. (2014). Choicetheory and reality therapy: An overview.&nbspInternationalJournal of Choice Theory® and Reality Therapy,34(1),6.

Ellis, A., Glasser, W., Lazarus,A., &amp Corey, G. (2011). Famous therapist errors.

Klingler, L., &amp Gray, N. D.(2015). Reality Therapy/Choice Theory Today: An Interview with Dr.Robert E. Wubbolding.&nbspCanadianJournal of Counselling and Psychotherapy/Revue canadienne decounseling et de psychothérapie,&nbsp49(2).

Palmatier, L. (2013).&nbspCrisisCounseling For A Quality School: A Family Perspective.Routledge.

Robey, P. A. (2011). Reality therapy and choice theory: An interviewwith Robert Wubbolding. The Family Journal, 19(2), 231-237.

Watson, M. E., Dealy, L. A., &amp Todorova, M. I. L. (2014). Choicetheory and reality therapy: applied by health professionals.International Journal of Choice Theory® and Reality Therapy,33(2), 31.

Wubbolding, R. E. (2013).&nbspRealitytherapy for the 21st century.Routledge.