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Reality Therapy Techniques

By admin On December 2, 2010 Under Emotional
“. . . it is what you choose to do in a relationship, not what others choose to do,
that is the heart of reality therapy.” – William Glasser

Fulfilling Our Basic Needs

Reality Therapy techniques, developed by Dr. William Glasser in the 1960s, takes a different approach to understanding why humans become mentally unstable. He discovered that humans have two basic needs: the need to love and be loved and the need to feel that we are worthwhile to ourselves and others.  Those who cannot meet these needs will suffer with anxiety and depression or, in extreme cases, complete withdrawal from the world.  They retreat from reality and become irresponsible.

The Circle Of Love: Responsibility, Relevance, Love, Responsibility, Relevance, Love….

Learning responsibility is the most important thing we must learn so that we can move toward fulfilling our basic needs.  This is because we must have it in order to feel that we are worthwhile.  And if we don’t feel relevant, how can we behave in a way that allows us to give and receive love?  To feel worthwhile, we must behave well.  Responsibility allows us to fulfill our needs while not depriving others of their ability to do the same.

The Effect of Accountability

In order to be responsible, we must be taught to face the reality of our behavior.  We are accountable for it.   We cannot be allowed to ignore our irresponsible actions.  When someone cares enough to make us face this truth that we have spent our life trying to avoid, it has a dramatic effect on us.  It doesn’t matter whether we are a child or a psychiatric patient.

Reality Therapy TechniquesTeaching Us To Fly

The best time for this to happen is in childhood.  We learn responsibility through interaction with those who have learned to be responsible, preferably loving parents who will love and discipline us appropriately.  This, combined with subsequent freedom to spread our newly acquired wings of responsibility as soon as we can, is what brings us fulfillment and lets us fly.

Doing What We Should Is Better Than Getting What We Want

What all this means is that doing what we should is better than getting what we want.  Why?  Because being irresponsible keeps us from fulfilling our basic needs.  Changing what we do is the key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.  Children, and many adults, do not know that the easiest path will not fulfill their needs and so many persistently continue to struggle against reality.

Enforcing A Delinquent Conscience

From infancy we struggle against this reality.  Even when we are old enough to recognize reality, we still test our parents with irresponsible behavior.  It is by disciplining us out of love that our parents teach us healthier ways to think, better behavior.  It is by disciplining us that we learn to discipline ourselves.  Neglecting this will only frustrate us as children.  We know the difference between right and wrong and receiving rewards for behavior we know is wrong doesn’t allow us to feel worthwhile.

Reality Therapy TechniquesThe Hardest But Best Course

Parents who are willing to suffer the pain of a child’s passionate anger by insisting on a responsible course are teaching them how to fulfill their basic needs.  Parents should be encouraged because if they lead by instruction and example, their children will respect them and taking the responsible course will never permanently alienate the child.

How to Help Others Meet Their Needs

Reality Therapy techniques involve an intense personal involvement, facing reality and rejecting irresponsible behavior, and learning better ways to behave.

So How Do We Help Our Friends and Family Members With Reality Therapy?

  • We must be willing to get involved emotionally, to engage them in ways that will inspire them to responsibility and good behavior.
  • We need to focus on the present.  It is our present perceptions that influence our present behavior.  Now is where they need to be responsible.  They cannot change the past, but they can change the present and the future.  It is easy to recount past hurts and failures, to look for excuses for our bad behavior.  It is much harder to face our irresponsibility.  Why get involved with the irresponsible person they were?  We want to become involved with the person they can be.  We want to talk about new horizons, expand their interests, and inspire them with life beyond their difficulties.
  • We must not flinch.  We must hold them to the right course, to a responsible path.  Be concerned, loving, encouraging, but not soft.  Remember that what they need the worst comes from facing reality and doing the responsible thing.  Only by doing this can they fulfill their needs and really live.
  • We can brainstorm with our friend or child in order to come up with a responsible and workable plan that will lead to fulfillment of their needs in life.  This plan is all about their behavior; things they can do even when others don’t cooperate.  This empowers by an emphasis on doing what is in their control to do.

Self Worth, Relevance, and Dignity Come From An Unexpected Corner

At the heart of Reality Therapy is the idea that the only person we can control is ourselves.  No matter what others do, we can do the right thing.  In this way we take responsibility for ourselves, our lives become meaningful and dignified, and our life’s needs and desires are met.  This relevancy only comes to us when we embrace responsibility and stop blaming others for all the bad things in our lives, as if they controlled us.  In this way we turn from paralysis, frustration, and withdrawal to freedom, peace, and presence.

Reality Therapy techniques urge the truth that no matter what happens to us, we have a choice.  Ultimately we have control of our lives.  Changing how we act is the key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.


Check out other emotional healing therapies:

Emotions & Happiness | Emotions & Pain | Emotions & Disease
Emotions & Relationships
| Emotions & Children
Emotions & Electricity

Return from Reality Therapy Techniques to Emotional Healing Therapies

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