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Reality Therapy: A New approach to Psychiatry Essay Sample

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Reality Therapy: A New approach to Psychiatry Essay Sample


     This study focuses on the Reality Therapy of William Glasser. It tackles on the concepts and the approach of the therapy. It provides comparison on Reality Therapy, Conventional Therapy, and Transference Therapy. It introduces the principal concepts of the therapy. It points out the advantages and disadvantage of the approach and how effective it is to all people with psychiatric problems.
Reality Therapy

     One approach in counseling and psychotherapy is Reality Therapy. Dr. William Glasser developed this therapy in the mid 1960. Choice Therapy, which was originally called as control therapy is the basis of this approach. It became universally applied in education and became one of the well-established therapy approach both internationally and in the U.S.

     It is a problem solving and counseling therapy approach that focuses on how to create a better future and on the here-and-now concept of the client instead of dwelling on the past. The success of this approach is on the plan for making good choices. The counselor will help the client make an effective plan in order to get what he wants. The plan should be framed and be made by the client and not from the counselor’s ideas.

The essence of this therapy is that the client makes a plan, which should be attainable and controlled by him. The therapy is composed of four aspects, which are feeling, physiology, thinking and acting. We can choose what we want to think and act, but we have difficulty in directly choosing our feeling and difficulty in controlling our physiology like racing pulse, sweating of palms, etc.

      Traditional psychoanalytic and counseling often focuses on past events. Choice Therapy and Reality therapy focuses on solutions that are in the present and future which are attainable. People who practice reality therapy may think of the past but they would never dwell on it. The approach sees the past as a source of wants, ways of how a person behaves and not as a cause of why a person behaves. It stresses the things to be learned from the pass and move on to satisfy a person’s needs and wants in the future and at present.

     The purpose of this study is to site the good and the bad points of Reality Therapy. It explains how reality therapy works and if it is applicable to all people with psychiatric problems.


     Reality therapy establishes a relationship with the client, which is the most important step to take first in any psychotherapy approach. The therapist focuses the client on current behaviors instead of experiences. A valued judgment of the current behavior that the clients feel and do will be asked to write. Often times, the problem of the client is a result of a bad relationship with someone. It is a fact that the client can not change anyone else’s behavior. What the therapist will do is to make the client focus on things he can do unilaterally.

There is a possibility that the client will be worried to the fact that other people might take advantage of this or would not reciprocate what he will do in his plan. Nevertheless, client will be asked to build healthy relationships with others. The client is then aksed to make a plan that he needs to fulfill since he was the one who will set it. The plan is best put in writing. Unlike other therapy, reality therapy have no punishment if the client was not able to fulfill his plan. Either the client follow his plan or change his plan to a more attainable goals.

     Reality Therapy is centered on the five basic needs. These are:

  • The need to survive. This includes clothing, shelter, food, etc.
  • The need to belong, be loved, and be connected to the people around us
  • The need to achieve, win, accomplish something
  • The need to be free and have one own’s space.
  • The need to enjoy, to have fun and experience pleasure.


     Reality Therapy lies in the present and future, while Conventional Therapy is centered more on past events. Reality Therapy reminds the client not to dwell in the past and mind-set him to the successes that were achieved. The approach believes that the present perceptions influences present behavior, this is the main goal of the therapy to the client. It can aid in self development as well as personal problem solving.

The therapist needs to have a connection with the client in order to help him. This is contradictory to conventional psychiatric approaches which follows the influence of Freud, which the therapist should remain as impersonal and objective as possible. Therapist must be observed to show aloofness from the client. In Reality therapy, involvement of the therapist is the foundation of Glasser’s approach.

     Transference therapy is an approach where there is an unconscious displacement of feeling, thoughts, and behaviors from a previous significant relationship into a current relationship. It uses suggestions because this approach believes that each person has not yet overcome dependence to his parents. It is when he only learns to accept suggestions that the patient will able to overcome his internal resistance and do away with his repressions. This is totally different from Reality Therapy that focuses on reality, current situation and the future.


     The Principles of Reality Therapy focus on the present and avoid dwelling on the past. The approach tries not to discuss symptoms and complaints as much as possible. It focus on the think-and-act principle. It tries to avoid blaming and complaining and critisizing that can be harmul in establishing relationships. Non-judgemental and encourages the client to build relationship to others. They help client to make an attainable plans and tries to follow the plan without any punishment due, if the plan was not followed. The approach helps the client on how to understand and apply the theory of choice.

However, Glasser ignores feelings that sometimes humans are most weak at, it ignores the principles of unconsciousness, it  overlooked the effects of trauma especially childhood trauma, and it also underestimate the power of the past which makes it very difficult to almost impossible for a client who is severely traumatized or has a very bad experience in the past to cope up. The approach tends to forget the role of the culture and the society in shaping a person’s behavior and outlook in life. It focuses more on superficial issues that a person is having difficulty handling instead of the focusing more on the root cause of the underlying superficial problem. (Breggin, P., 1991)


Charyl Stockwell Academy. (n.d.). Curriculum/Methodology: Glasser Quality School.

     Retrieve  April  2, 2006 .  http://www.csaschool.com/site/curriculum.asp?id=183 .

Glasser, William. (1969) .  Schools without failure. New York: Harper & Row.

Glasser, William., M. D.  (Paperback Eds.) . (1975) Reality Therapy: A New Approach to

     Psychiatry. New York: Harpercollins

Randall, Kevin. (2004). “The theories of William Glasser.” Retrieve April 1, 2006.

     http://www.kevinrandell.com/docs/sci_port/EDU4112_Glasser_essay.doc .

Simpson College. (n.d.). “Reality Therapy-William Glasser.” Retrieved April 2,

     2006 . http://hamarscompendium.com/Simpson%20College/reality_therapy.htm .

William, G. M.D.. ( 2006, March 28) . Reality Therapy. Retrieve April 1, 2006 .

     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality_Therapy .

William Glasser Institute. (2004, September 28). Reality Therapy. Retrieve April 2,

     2006 . http://www.wglasser.com/whatisrt.htm .

Wubbolding, R. E. (2000) . Reality Therapy for the 1st Century. Philadelphia: George H.

     Buchanan .

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