Reality Therapy

Reality Therapy Techniques & Guide

Man is the highest evolved animal today in the living world. Man’s step by step evolution and moving through the channel of civilization can help us to come to a conclusion that he has been thriving to survive in his physical and social world to prove himself.

The race for the ‘survival of the fittest’ has set the standards very high. In a man’s social world, both the needs- physical and psychological have to be satisfied. Now the physical needs of a man are easily met more or less but to meet the psychological needs psychotherapy plays a vital role which is immensely of a great help to a man.

There are many therapies and theories in psychology to guide and overcome the problems of a man but ‘Reality Therapy’ has its own role to play in the man’s success story.

The Reality Therapy came in the year 1960 when Dr.William Glasser along with his teacher Dr.G.L.Harington brought this theory in our knowledge. In the course of time, this theory has been also termed as Choice Theory and Control Theory.

As the term ‘Reality therapy’ can simply place us in an illusion that it is a therapy which involves giving a dose of reality to the clients or to the persons who are in need but actually it isn’t this way. It is a therapy which is highly client friendly.

It is all meant for the client, for him to be able to face his world confidently with the help and under the guidance of a counselor or a therapist.

Reality therapy draws us closer to psychotherapy and counselling. It is simple but very systematic in its approach. It is quite different then the rest of the theories. It deals with the internal psychology of a person.

The principle of the theory lies in the fact that ‘we choose our behaviour and we are choosing the best of it to fulfil our needs, at a particular time'. Hence we are fully responsible for the outcome of our behavior.

The present behaviour is responsible for our current state and not the past. The past is just the source of our wants.

The relative therapy finds out the unsatisfied needs of the client and helps him to satisfy them by bringing a change in the thought process and finally leading to a change in his action also, getting him re-connected to his own social world once again.

In life, man has five basic needs to be taken care of. These can be called as survival, love, belonging, power, freedom and fun. Each one is important in its own way and plays an important role to balance the life. The strength of the needs can vary from person to person.

The control room of the body which is our brain monitors the satisfaction level of these needs automatically. If they remain unsatisfied somewhere they make us feel miserable. We have to find a way to get them satisfied so that we may feel good.

A man has his own world where he registers or puts all the things and persons who are important to him to make him feel good in his life.

The success of this therapy lies in the fact that the way it can bring a person or we can say the client back to his quality world. The four factors responsible to bring a client into his quality world are-

  1. Feelings.
  2. Physiology.
  3. Actions or doing.
  4. Our thoughts or our thinking.

Sometimes all work of them in harmony and then that is the moment we feel great and nice. But often the four of them are working in different directions which are responsible to make us feel bad or depressed for example -if one has to go and pickup the child from the school, but he is tired and is not willing to go. He finishes the job thinking that it is his responsibility inspite of his unwillingness.

The whole instance shows that the ‘feel’ and the ‘physiology’ factor are not in synchronisation with the ‘thought’ and the ‘action’ factors. Here the thought is directed smartly towards the purpose hence in the end there is a good feel. At times one has to work harder and wait for a longer time to achieve the feel good situation.

The above all four factors [thinking,feel, physiology and actions] contribute to give rise to a ‘total [complete] behaviour’ of a person. The therapy believes in the fact that client can easily change his thoughts and actions with the help of a therapist to solve his problems of his social world. The other two which are- feelings and physiology are not under the client’s control and hence cannot be easily changed.

The Golden Rule states that:
To change how you feel, begin to change your thoughts and actions.

The Glasser’s theory believes in the theory that the behaviour is a combination of choice and control. The behavioural pattern can be directed towards a positive direction by ‘conscious’ decision making.

STEPS IN THE REALITY THERAPY - Following steps can be brought into use to implement the therapy-

1.To build an 'Environment' -
The first step for the therapist is to build an environment in which the client feels safe, comfortable, open and free to give his opinion or views.

It should be a need fulfilling environment for the client. He should feel to be respected and also listened to.

The fun and learning both the aspects should be fulfilled in the built environment by the therapist.

There should be a rapport between the helper and the needy. This requirement is one of the basic requirements for the therapy to work successfully.

2. Interaction with the client -
This involves listening or hearing to the client. It is an interaction process through which the therapist comes to know the wants of a client as he keeps the whole picture in front of the helper. The therapist then moves further to plan to meet his wants.

3. Evaluation of the Current Behavior -
This step involves the complete assessment of the present behaviour of the client by the therapist so as to know exactly where and why the client is lacking to achieve his goal.

In this the helper will ask the client whether his current behaviour is helping him to come closer to his goal or not. If the answer is ‘Yes’ then the behaviour needs to continue further till it needs minor changes. But if the answer is‘No’then the role of the helper is to bring in a major change in the clients thinking and hence in his action also.

The client has to know what he wants. The therapist will help him to direct his thoughts in a positive direction. Some question can be asked by the helper to pin point a problem and work on it like-what do you want?, what are your actions to achieve them?, Is the current behaviour helpful to you or not? The answers will guide the construction of a possible plan of action.

4. Possible Behavioral Planning –
The therapist would like to plan the possible behaviour of the client to help him to re-connect himself to his own social world.

The bad relationship is often the reason for a client to loose his quality world.

This is the step where the plan is built up with consent of the client [his wants].The acceptance of the client is very important as the success of the therapy lies in the fact that-the client will show interest to bring about a change in his behaviour if the plan satisfies his wants.

Here the therapist will assist the client to focus on the things that are under his control [thoughts and actions] .The gist of the reality therapy lies in the fact that- ‘one has to focus on changing one’s own behaviour and thoughts’, to come closer to the goal.

5. Commitment to the plan -
The client can commit verbally but it is better that he gives it in writing to bring in little seriousness in the plan of action.

This will keep reminding him of the responsibility that he has to bring a change in his behaviour to build a positive world.

The client is responsible for the plan to work successfully as the steps taken for action are worked out in his presence and with his consent only.

6. A Complete Evaluation -
If the plan doesn’t bring a change in the client’s world then the possible plan of the behaviour can be modified according to the wants of the client.

This can continue till the client is fully satisfied and he has got his quality world back. The whole picture rotates around the client as he has to finally feel comfortable in his world. Nobody can be a better judge to decide the success of the plan other than the client and the helper.

Napoleon Hill’s quote seems to convey the same theme -
Man alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality, can dream and make his dream come true.

Points to focus on -
1.’Present’ is important and not the past.

2.The therapist should not complain or focus on the client’s symptoms. It can put a negative effect on the client.

3.Total behaviour is a factor to be focussed on.

4.There should be a sense of responsibility developed in the client by the therapist for the plan of action to work.

5.The ability of the client to take up the change is also important to be considered by the therapist.

6.The helper should focus on the factors which are under the control of the client.

7.The client should have the freedom to reject or revise the plan of behaviour with the help of the therapist.

8.The therapist should have a lot of patience to deal with the client throughout the course of therapy.

9.The client should develop a trust in the efficacy of the plan.

10.The relationship between the helper and the client should be friendly and supportive.

In the field of education- The schools which work on the Glasser’s theory for classroom’s management planning are termed as ‘Quality schools’.

THE CORE IDEAS- They are following -
1.The construction of the plan should be workable to achieve the client’s expectations. The plan should be under the client’s control.

2. Behaviour is the key to the approach. It is a combination of four factors- thinking, feel, action or doing and physiology. It s the behavior which can bring about the changes in our actions.

3.The theory revolves around the concept of-Bringing a change in "what we do" as a key to change how we feel and to get what we want.

4.The ‘control factor’ is a very important factor as to meet the wants of a person. It has two directions to move to. One is that we want to control others and the other is that ‘I’ can control 'myself'.

The first one will lead to frustration while the second can take you closer to your goal.

‘I can change myself’. This is the core belief which helps the client to come closer to his wants and get them.

To handle wisely and smartly, the things in our control by a decisive thinking and planning and to overcome the negative effects of our uncontrolled factors in the positive direction, is what is required for the client to come back in his quality world.

Some of the schools of therapy have criticized this theory as “its one answer, solves all”.

Here I would like to share my understanding with all of you that first comes the thought, then organization of those thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning as one will observe, is in our imagination.

The Reality Therapy is very much a therapy of hope, based on the conviction that we are products of the past and we do not have to go on being its victims.

Hoping that it was interesting for you I, Neerja Bhatnagar sign off from my article'Reality Therapy'.

Author’s profile- Ms. Neerja Bhatnagar is an environmentalist, a lecturer, a social worker, a classical dancer and a soft-skill trainer/ consultant. She is a recipient of various academics and literary accolades including President’s Gold Medal and Directors Silver Medals at university level. Travelling and good music are her passion. Presently she is engaged in pursuing an advanced diploma in counselling and guidance.

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