Formulated by William Glasser stemming from
his doubts about the traditional psychoanalytic
approach. Established Institute for Reality
Therapy of the Education Training Center and
the William Glasser LaVerne College Center
both in Los Angeles. (Gilliland & James, p. 270)
It is geared toward verbal clients in the
technological society of the United States.
(Gilliland & James, p. 291)
Common sense teaching approach that targets
problems, not people
Reality Therapy Basic BeliefsReality Therapy Basic Beliefs
Emphasis is on responsibility
Therapist’s function is to keep therapy
focused on the present
We often mistakenly choose misery in our
best attempt to meet our needs
We act responsibly when we meet our
needs without keeping others from meeting
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To fulfill one’s needs, in such a way as to
not deprive another of their ability to fulfill
their own needs.
Focus on total behavior: acting, thinking,
Major philosophies and natureMajor philosophies and nature
of humansof humans
Basic premise of theory is that the brain operates to gain
the perception of what is wanted from the environment.
People control what they perceive, not what actually
A fundamental philosophical tenet of control theory is
that people are ultimately self-determining.
Internal and external psychosocial pressures may relate
directly to present emotional functioning but in the long
run clients are autonomous, selective, responsible people
who can control their own behaviors, thinking and
destinies. (Gilliland & James, p. 271)
Major personality constructsMajor personality constructs
Everything clients do is to satisfy their
The brain is a control system with inborn
genetic instructions that drive both
physiological and psychological needs.
Physiological needs are those that ensure
the survival of the individual and the
Five Basic NeedsFive Basic Needs
the need to survive (physiologic),
the need for love and belonging,
the need for power,
the need for freedom,
the need for fun.
Basic NeedsBasic Needs
All internally motivated behavior is geared
toward meeting one or more of our basic
– Survival (Physiological needs)
Our brain functions as a control system to
get us what we want
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Basic TenetsBasic Tenets
Nothing that drives our thinking, feeling
and behaving is moral or immoral.
(Gilliland & James, p. 272)
Control theory states that we choose
behaviors and in choosing, we discover
consequences that are desirable or
undesirable. (Gilliland & James, p. 273)
Glasser identified two generalGlasser identified two general
types of personality:types of personality:
People who view themselves from their
own internal frames of reference
Those who perceive of themselves as
others see them.
Success Identity—where one comes to
possess a willingness and set of skills for
attaining our basic needs in positive and
Failure Identity—failure to attain one’s
needs in responsible ways
Development of IdentityDevelopment of Identity
In each of the above identities, three stages of development exist:
– Needs are fulfilled in positive ways
– We cope with life through positive and constructive symptoms (i.e.,
altruistic activities, effective thinking, positive affect, effective
– We become positively addicted to life-enhancing choices.
– Giving up: We perceive that we cannot attain our needs.
– Choosing negative symptoms (i.e., negative thinking, debilitative
feelings, and negative physiological conditions)
– We become negatively addicted to activities which we perceive to give
us instant belonging, power, etc. (i.e., alcohol, drugs, gambling, food,
work) (Gilliland & James, pp. 274-275)
Love and WorthLove and Worth
A person’s success identity is based on
experiencing both love and worth in
balance. Love but no worth can lead a
person to become dependant on others for
validation, worth without love can lead to
alienation because there is never a feeling
of being cared for by significant others.
(Gilliland & James, p. 275)
Nature of “maladaptivity”Nature of “maladaptivity”
Maladaptivity is equated with the failure identity. This is
characterized by a person’s tending to be lonely, self-
critical, and irrational. A maladaptive person’s behaviors
are likely to be rigid and ineffective, often exhibiting
weakness, irresponsibility and lack of confidence.
Maladaptivity generally begins during the very early
years of life, when the individual does not or cannot
fulfill the need to experience love or self-worth. The
person who does not feel worthwhile cannot give and
receive love in appropriate ways.
Since all behavior is an attempt to control perceptions,
Glasser says that people choose their misery to gain
control over others and to excuse their unwillingness to
do something more effective. Glasser describes a person
rather than being in a state of depression as engaging in
“depressing.” (Gilliland & James, p. 276)
Depression described as ACHE:Depression described as ACHE:
Major goals of counselingMajor goals of counseling
The major goal of counseling is
responsible behavior on the part of the
client. The overall objective is to help the
client feel better. This is accomplished
when the client is able to meet needs by
taking effective control of his or her life.
(Gilliland & James, p. 277)
Major techniques/strategiesMajor techniques/strategies
The major techniques and strategies employed by
reality therapy are: confrontation (the counselor
allows “no excuses” for inappropriate behavior),
plans and contracts (similar to other behavior
theories), being specific and “pinning down” the
client (the counselor will probe the client’s plan
until it is completely specific and detailed) and
resolving conflicts. (Gilliland & James, pp. 282-
Cognitive-behavioral approach to counseling
process. Explore problems, evaluate behaviors,
create a plan and goals.
Procedures That Lead toProcedures That Lead to
The “WDEP” SystemThe “WDEP” System
W Wants - What do you want to be and do?
Your “picture album”
D Doing and Direction - What are you doing?
Where do you want to go?
E Evaluation - Does your present behavior have a
chance of getting you what you want?
P Planning – “SAMIC”
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Planning For ChangePlanning For Change
S Simple - Easy to understand, specific and concrete
A Attainable - Within the capacities and motivation
of the client
M Measurable - Are the changes observable and helpful?
I Immediate and Involved - What can be done today?
What can you do?
C Controlled - Can you do this by yourself or will
you be dependent on others?
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Major roles of counselor andMajor roles of counselor and
The major role of the counselor in reality therapy is to
talk about, focus on and reinforce positive and
constructive planning and behaving on the part of the
client. (Gilliland & James, p. 282)
Believe client needs to be responsible.
The client’s role is to be the sole judge of his or her own
behavior, to identify what they are doing to cause the
difficulty or failure and decide what they must do to
begin to behave in more responsible ways. (Gilliland &
James, p. 280)
Counseling environment is one of authenticity, warmth,
rapport and trust. Client must be heard. Focus on here
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Total BehaviorTotal Behavior
Our Best Attempt to Satisfy Our NeedsOur Best Attempt to Satisfy Our Needs
DOING – active behaviors
THINKING – thoughts, self-statements
FEELINGS – anger, joy, pain, anxiety
PHYSIOLOGY – bodily reactions