What is Reality Therapy?

  • Reality therapy is a relatively new psychotherapy theory that emphasizes changes people can make in their actions and thoughts. In that regard, reality therapy falls under the umbrella of cognitive behavioural therapies. 
  • Reality therapy has both a phenomenological and existential base, which maintains that people’s inner words will determine what behaviours they choose. 
  • Reality therapy is action oriented, concrete, didactic, directive, behavioural, and cognitive. 
  • Overall, reality therapy emphasizes the fulfillment of psychological needs and is preventive in nature. 
  • Reality therapy differs from conventional theories of psychotherapy in six ways: 
    • It rejects the concept of mental illness and the use of diagnostic labels 
    • It works in the present, not the past 
    • It rejects the concept of transference (the idea that clients relate to the therapist as an authority figure from their past) 
    • It does not consider the unconscious to be the basis of present behaviour 
    • The morality of behaviour is emphasized
    • It teaches individuals better ways to fulfill their needs and more appropriate (and more successful) ways to deal with the world.  
  • Reality therapy was developed by Dr. William Glasser in 1965. 

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