Reality Therapy

Reality therapy is a person-centred approach that focuses on the here and now rather than issues from the past. Developed by William Glasser in the 1960s, it promotes problem-solving and making better choices in order to achieve specific goals.

Central to reality therapy is the idea that mental distress is not the result of a mental illness. Instead it is the result of a socially universal human condition that occurs when an individual has not had their basic psychological needs met. These are:

  • love and belonging
  • power and achievement
  • survival (nourishment and shelter etc.)
  • freedom and independence
  • fun (enjoyment and pleasure).

According to Glasser, whether we are aware of it or not, we are all the time acting to meet these needs. While we may struggle to choose our feelings and physiology, we are able to directly choose our thoughts and actions. Sometimes however, we don’t act effectively, and this can have negative repercussions for our health and well-being.

Reality therapy is therefore designed to find ways of meeting a person's basic needs, whilst facilitating clients to become aware of, and change negative thoughts and actions. This is to help them take control of their behaviour, as well as the world around them. Ultimately, reality therapists take the view that changing what we do is key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.

This approach is compatible with the Therapy Retreats philosophy of focusing on the present and not the past.

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