The Reality Therapy: Approach and Application

View of Human Nature and Basic characteristics

Shedler (2008) states that the Reality approach depends on the fact that all individuals are responsible for what they select to perform. The basic assumption of the approach being that, individuals can only control their lives in the current moment. In essence, reality theory is a behavioral approach that puts emphasis on what clients do, not what they feel. Reality theory concentrates on the ability of a client to decide to meet his or her own needs. It discourages blaming tendencies but prevents personal responsibility. Favorable decisions assist individuals create their quality world in which love, survival, belonging, and power needs are fulfilled (Shedler, 2008).

Reality Therapeutic Process

The basic assumption of reality theory is that change in clients does not depend on insight alone; rather, change is only realized when clients behave in a different way (Shedler, 2008). Reality therapy identifies what clients can do about their own behaviors. It assumes that clients are unable to influence the behavior of others (Ferguson, 2007). Reality approaches advocates for viable and effective ways of thinking and behaving. Thus, reality therapists aim to guide clients in formulating productive and useful ways of thinking and behaving.

Reality therapists ensure that clients abandon ineffective ways of thinking, and adopt new ways of thinking to be productive (Shedler, 2008). Consequently, Shedler (2008) describes the roles of therapists to involve responsibilities such as: being aware of and able to satisfy their own needs; being mentally stable and able to tolerate calls for forgiveness for unproductive behaviors to a counseling session; learning to accept all members of a group; and being able to confront in order to change clients into responsible living (Ferguson, 2006).

Applications of Reality Therapy

Major techniques and Areas the Theory can be applied

The real application of reality therapy needs satisfactory skill and insight. This therapy is applied both as an individual and group therapy. Didactically, reality therapy is taught in public school settings; and it is used in organizational and educational settings as well (Corey, 2007).

The major steps counselors apply in reality therapy sessions include: one, establishing a caring rapport with the client within the professional relationship of assisting. The counselor is required to be positive and must emphasize the strengths of clients. The therapist then goes a head and find out exactly what the client needs and if the need is possible; two, the counselor should seek to find out what the client is doing at that moment. He should assume that the client’s current behavior is aimed at satisfying a need. In this way, the counselor tries to make the client to own up to what he or she is doing and deal with evasions and abstractions by stressing on behavior; three, the client is made to understand that what he or she doing now is ineffectual; four, the counselor assist the client to formulate a plan to control well that part of life that is of client concern; five, the counselor must get the commitment of the client to follow through the devised plan; six, the counselor should not tolerate excuses. The therapist must be interested in the future and not the past; seven, the therapist should not use punishment. Punishment involves control of client’s life; lastly, the counselor should never allow to be controlled by the client’s ineffectual behavior. The therapist must always discover possibilities of change (Ferguson, 2007).

Evaluation of Reality Theory

Contributions and Limitations of Reality Theory

Reality approach therapy does not have a long-term focus. According to American Counseling Association (2005), reality theory has contributed effectively in offering required treatment in the current health care system. Reality theory emphasizes more on accountability, hence, allows group processes to be client focused.

Reality theory has her fair share of limitations. For instance, the technique emphasized in the therapy is process focused and not theoretical. The theory is much more simplistic in nature and does not involve important aspects of achieving insight, interpreting dreams and aspirations, and most important, making analyses. Reality therapy is value focused, and thus there is possibility of group leaders who are manipulative to impose their selfish whims on the group members (Ferguson, 2007).

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1. PsychologyWriting. "The Reality Therapy: Approach and Application." September 22, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "The Reality Therapy: Approach and Application." September 22, 2023.