Strategies in Reality Therapy
Reality therapy is an approach in counseling and psychotherapy that focuses on dissecting the influence of social relationships with the problems experienced by people. As a concept, it is very much tied to William Glasser’s theory of choice. According to Glasser’s theory, “we are born with five genetically encoded needs – survival, love and belonging, power or achievement, freedom or independence, and fun – that drive us all in our lives.” (Corey, 2008) Based on the theoretical foundations of reality therapy, the process of counseling and psychotherapy may be defined by the necessity to study social relationships and then focus on “the unsatisfying relationship or the lack of a relationship, which is often the cause of the clients’ problems.” (Corey, 2008) Furthermore, therapy is realized when reality therapists allow their clients to determine the variety of choices available for them in order to resolve their problems and improve their situations. By and large, reality therapists focus on emphasizing to the clients the existence of choice and the need to face their responsibilities, reject transference, stay in the here and now and face the realities of things and situations, stray away from the consideration of the various symptoms that arise from the clients’ problems, and then veer away from the conventional standards and guidelines that direct the diagnosis of mental illnesses, counseling, and therapy. (Corey, 2008)
In order to accomplish the goals of reality therapy, therapists employ various strategies during counseling. For instance, the WDEP (Wants, Doing, Evaluation, and Planning) is a process strategy to complete a brief reality therapy. This strategy guides the counseling process by providing a step-by-step guideline of how it should be accomplished. First, the reality therapist draws answers from the client as to what he wants to accomplish in the counseling process. Second, the therapist relates to the client what they are doing during counseling. Third, the therapist facilitates the client’s evaluation of his life and problems. Lastly, based on the evaluation, the therapist and the client go over plans that will help the client understand and resolve his situation. (Carlson & Sperry, 2000)
Another strategy in reality therapy is the therapists’ involvement in helping the client conduct self-evaluation in order for the client to identify the causes of his problems. This strategy is the therapists’ continuous emphasis of the necessity for clients to “monitor their own actions, thoughts, feelings, and wants.” This is based on the notion that “No one makes changes without previous self-evaluation.” (Carlson & Sperry, 2000) The therapist may also choose to teach directly or indirectly the client what he should do in order to resolve his problems. This strategy entails the capacity and wisdom of the therapist to determine what concepts he should teach the client in order to witness positive and progressive behavioral change. In this case, the therapist teaches the client the things that he should avoid doing and then how the client should communicate or relate with other people. A third strategy would be for the therapist to encourage the client to spend quality time with their loved ones for the purpose of creating good memories, and in turn compensate for the bad ones. This strategy provides the client with the opportunity to build or rebuild broken relationships with their friends, family, and loved ones. The fourth and last strategy that shall be explored in this discussion is the employment of the “social circle.” This strategy allows the clients to take a closer look on their relationships with other people by enclosing themselves in an imaginary circle to identify their wants, expectations, dreams, and such, for their relationships with other people, and consequently, realize how they are going to develop the relationship to realize these relational and maybe shared aspirations. (Carlson & Sperry, 2000)
Carlson, J., and Sperry, L. (2000). Brief Therapy with Individuals and Couples. Phoenix, AZ: Zeig Tucker & Theisen Publishers.
Corey, G. (2008). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 8th Ed. London, UK: Cengage Learning EMEA.