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Role of the Therapist

Reality therapists typically DO: 

  • primarily serve as a teacher and model, accepting the client in a warm involved way while focusing them on the control of displayed thoughts and actions
  • increase focus by using `ing’ verbs like bullying, arguing, angering to describe thoughts and actions 
  • emphasize choice, on what the client chooses to do (it indicates that behaviour is linked with feeling and physiology, which is how other positive changes also become possible at the same time) 
  • focus on areas of change and making desires a reality 
  • emphasizes positive, constructive actions in bringing change 
  • usually see their clients once weekly, for between forty-five minutes and one hour per visit
  • come from a variety of disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, and social work 
  • practice/model being active, directive, instructive, and oriented toward action 
  • use a variety of techniques, including role-play, humour, question-and-answer sessions, and confrontation* 
  • teach that the client is solely responsible for their behaviour (conventional psychotherapy often avoids the issue of responsibility; the client or ‘patient’ is thought to be ‘sick’ and thus not responsible for his or her behaviour) 
  • stress the criterion of what is “right” as playing an important role in determining the appropriateness of behaviour (however, the therapist does not attempt to state the morality of behaviour, as noted below, as this is the task and responsibility of the client)
  • promote that client make value judgments based on the reality of their situation (e.g., is their current behaviour getting them what they want? Does their current behaviour lead to success or to failure?) 
  • stress the basic philosophy of reality therapy, which is that people are ultimately self-determining and in charge of their lives. People are, in other words, free to choose how they act and what they will become 
  • express faith in the client’s ability to change 
  • help the client formulate a realistic plan to achieve personal needs 
  • become involved with the client in a meaningful relationship
  • focus on the behaviour and present 
  • aim to eliminate punishment and excuses from the client’s life. The client should not be punished for failure by either the therapist or other people. 

Reality therapists typically DO NOT: 

  • attempt to test, diagnose, interpret, or otherwise analyze client’s actions, except to ask questions, e.g., What do you want? What are you doing now? Is it working? 
  • concentrate on early childhood experiences, clients insightful of them, the unconscious, blame, etc.
  • adopt rigid rules (the therapist has a framework to follow, but within that framework they should be as free and creative as possible) 
  • employ some commonly accepted therapeutic techniques, such as interpretation, insight, free association, analysis of transference and resistance, and dream analysis 
  • recommend or promote the use of drugs or medications in treatment 
  • accept any excuses from the client for his or her self-defeating or destructive behaviour nor ignore the reality of the situation (the consequences of the client’s present behaviour) 
  • attempt to state the morality of behaviour; this is the task and responsibility of the client. Clients are to make these value judgments based on the reality of their situation. Is their current behaviour getting them what they want? Does their current behaviour lead to success or to failure? 

*Confrontation is one technique of special consideration to reality therapy. Through confrontation, therapists force clients to evaluate their present behaviour and to decide whether they will change it. Reality therapy maintains that the key to finding happiness and success is accepting responsibility. 

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