Chapter 11 Reality Therapy

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William Glasser
Very early Glasser rejected the Freudian model, partly due to his observation of psychoanalytically trained therapists who did not seem to be implementing Freudian principles. Rather, they tended to hold people respon-sible for their behavior
The essence of reality therapy
The essence of reality therapy is that we are all responsible for what we choose to do. The basic assumption is that all any of us can control is our present lives
Reality therapists believe the underlying problem of most clients is the same
They are either involved in a present unsatisfying relationship or lack what could even be called a relationship.

Many of the problems of clients are caused by their inability to connect, to get close to others, or to have a satisfying or successful relationship with at least one significant person in their lives
Reality therapists recognize
that clients choose their behaviors as a way to deal with the frustrations caused by unsatisfying relationships
Glasser contends that clients should not be labeled with a diagnosis except when it is necessary for insurance purposes.
From Glasser's perspective, diagnoses are descriptions of the behaviors people choose in their attempt to deal with the pain and frustration that is endemic to unsatisfying present relation-ships. Therefore, labeling ineffective behavior as mental illness is not accurate
Choice Theory
explains why and how we function, and reality therapy provides a de-livery system for helping individuals take more effective control of their lives. Therapy consists mainly of teaching clients to make more effective choices as they deal with the people they need in their lives.
Choice Theory
Glasser maintains that it is essential for the therapist to establish a satisfying relationship with clients. Once this relationship is developed, the skill of the therapist as a teacher be-comes paramount
Reality therapy
has been used in a variety of settings. The approach is applicable to counseling, social work, education, crisis intervention, corrections and rehabilitation, institutional management, and community development. Reality therapy is popular in schools, correctional institutions, general hospitals, state mental hospitals, halfway houses, and substance abuse centers.
Choice theory
posits that we are not born blank slates waiting to be
externally motivated by forces in the world around us. Rather, we are born with five genetically encoded needs—
survival, love and belonging, power or achievement, free-dom or independence,and fun—that drive us all our lives.
Choice theory
is based on the premise that because we are by nature social creatures we need to both receive and give love.
love and to belong
is the primary need because we need people to satisfy the other needs. It is also the most difficult need to satisfy because we must have a cooperative person to help us meet it
Reality therapists
teach clients choice theory so clients can identify unmet needs and try to satisfy them
Choice theory
explains that all we ever do from birth to death is behave and,
with rare exceptions, everything we do is chosen.
Total behavior teaches
that all behavior is made up of four inseparable but distinct components
acting, thinking, feeling, and physiology
By considering
the messages that clients send to others,
counselors can help clients indirectly
gain a greater appreciation of messages they unintentionally send to others.
Choice theory
teaches that there is no sense
talking about what clients can't control; the emphasis is on what clients can control in the relationship.
The basic axiom of choice theory,
The only person you can control is yourself
Reality therapists focus on
Emphasizing choice and responsibility
Reject Transference
Keep the therapy in the present
Avoid focusing on the symptoms
Challenge traditional views of mental illness
A primary goal of contemporary reality therapy is
to help clients get connected or reconnected with the people they have chosen to put in their quality world.
In addition to fulfilling this need for love and belonging, a basic goal of reality therapy is
to help clients learn better ways of fulfilling all of their needs, including power or achievement, freedom or independence, and fun.
Reality therapists teach clients
how to engage in self-evaluation, which is done by raising the question, "Are your behaviors getting you what you want and need?"
The role of the reality therapist
is to
challenge clients to examine and evaluate their own behavior, and then to make plans for change
It is the job of therapists
to convey the idea that no matter how bad things are there is hope. If therapists are able to instill this sense of hope, clients feel that they are no longer alone and that change is possible.
These questions are part of the self-evaluation process, which is the cornerstone of reality therapy.
"Is what you are choosing to do bringing you closer to the people you want to be closer to right now?" "Is what you are doing getting you closer to a new person if you are presently disconnected from everyone?"
Reality therapy emphasizes
an understanding and supportive relationship, or
therapeutic alliance, which is the foundation for effective outcomes
For involvement between the therapist and the client to occur, the counselor must have certain personal qualities including
warmth, sincerity, congruence,
understanding, acceptance, concern, respect for the client, openness, and the willingness to be challenged by others
specific ways for counselors to create a climate that leads to involvement with clients.
using attending behavior, listening to clients, suspending
judgment of clients, doing the unexpected, using humor appropriately, being oneself as a counselor, engaging in facilitative self-disclosure, listening for metaphors in the client's mode of self-expression, listening for themes,
summarizing and focusing, and being an ethical practitioner.
The basis for therapeutic interventions to work effectively rests on
a fair, firm, friendly, and
trusting environment
The practice of reality therapy can best be conceptualized as the cycle of counseling, which consists of two major components:
(1) creating the counseling environment
and (2) implementing specific procedures that lead to changes in behavior.
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