Reality Therapy

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Reality therapy

Since Dr. William Glasser developed it back in the 60s, mosttherapists have used reality therapy in counseling and teaching(Wubbolding, 2012). It is based in choice theory, and the success ofits application is dependent on a strong understanding of the choicetheory. The therapy, as constructed by Glasser, was based on theprinciples of self-decision making. The founder of the therapybelieved that people who behave inappropriately do not deserve helpto find a defense for the same. Every day, people find themselves insituations where they find it difficult to “face reality”.Similarly, some contend that there are certain times where what isperceived as “reality” is less accurate than what it is actuallymeant to be. This paper explores the reality therapy as a way ofimproving personal perception and reaction.

Realitytherapy as a way of improving personal perception and reaction

Most counseling therapies involve delving into the past. Similarly,reality therapy counselors also visit the patient’s past, eventhough not as much as those who apply other therapies. This is thedistinguishing feature between reality therapy and other therapies.The main reason why the reality therapists visit the patient’s pastis to find solutions to the present, which are rooted in the past.For this reason, reality therapy is seen as the source of people’swants and their ways of thinking and behaving, and generally personalperceptions (Glasser, 2013). It has to be noted that there are badthings that happen to people at some point in their past, however, atthe same time, there are things that happen that shape their successtoo. Therefore, the focus of reality therapy in perception is tolearn only that which is required from the past and moving as quicklyas possible to empowering the present and the future. The rationalebehind this is that it is the present perceptions that influence thepresent behavior. Therefore, the reality therapy practitioner’srole is to help the counselee to work through the past so as to shapethe present’s perception. This is why the therapy is based on theconviction that the present’s perception is influenced from thepast.

By using the reality therapy, the counselor can help their clients toexplore their total behavior, hence make their own self-evaluations.If the counselees decide to change their perceptions and try a newbehavior, or reaction, they are in a position to make their own plansand following up on the same. Changing of personal perceptiontherefore has to be viewed as a form of art, rather than just aprocedure to follow (Wubbolding, 2012). Additionally, it has to benoted that each individual is different, and that the way they changetheir perception is not standard. At the same time, the counselorshave to observe and respect the counselees’ cultural perspectives,and work in a way that is meaningful to them in their respectivecultures.

According to the philosophy of William Glasser, the brain reacts toactions and thinking processes of an individual (Olver, 2012). Thismeans that the brain does not react as a result of an imbalance inbrain chemistry, as wrongfully thought by many, and that people donot need to use psychotropic drugs in order to help improve theirreactions. They instead need psychotherapy to help them improve theirrelationships and interaction with the society. At the same time, thesociety should play a more preventive role than a reactive role forindividuals with psychological behaviors. This role is much similarto that played by the community towards people with mental illness.

Inimproving people’s reactions, reality therapy is applied by firstunderstanding the concept of total behavior (Glasser, 2013).Therefore, the counselor will focus on what the counselee can dodirectly, through thinking and actions. The counselor spends lesstime on what the counselee cannot think or do, and this helps them tounderstand their patients’ feelings and physiology, and how theychange. Glasser says that the problem is the external mindset of thesociety, in that a person must do what others want or be what theyneed them to be. As a result, the society should move more towardsthe internal cause of the problem of control. Applying thisphilosophy would help many to change their perceptions and reactionsto things in a more different manner. For instance, reality therapyhas been used to treat a number of specific phobias.


Whilst using reality therapy to improve personal perception andreactions, there are certain limitations which may reduce itseffectiveness. For instance, some counselees may be bound to culturalnorms which may limit them from voicing their needs, hence affectingthe outcomes. Also significantly, the results of the therapy may makethe client feel that they have been misunderstood or misinterpreted.However, the positive factor about the reality therapy in improvingpersonal perceptions and reactions is that it has no hidden agendaand that both the counselor and the counselee are focused on the sameoutcome.


Wubbolding, R.E. (2012). Reality therapy. New York, NY:American Psychological Association.

Olver, K. (2012). Reality therapy workbook. Country ClubHills, IL: Coaching for Excellence.

Glasser, W. (2013). Reality therapy: A new approach topsychiatry. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

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