I learned about Reality Therapy in my grad school program and was instantly hooked! It is described as a brief counseling approach and a client centered form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The client centered nature of the approach is so important for children, who often perceive they do not have much control over their lives or have adults and systems making the rules leading to high levels of powerlessness.
Reality Therapy allows children to become empowered to take control over their lives, make decisions, and evaluate the effectiveness of choices. Through Reality Therapy children (and parents) can learn about what needs are driving their behavior in a compassionate way and help the adults in their lives have a deeper and nonjudgmental understanding for what drives behavior.
Reality Therapy was developed by Dr. William Glasser and is based on Choice Theory. Choice Theory is based on the premise that we only have the power to control ourselves and limited power to control others. Choice Theory is the springboard for Reality Therapy, which is the interventions and implementation of Choice Theory in therapy.
Want to learn more? Check out this overview of how Reality Therapy works!
Reality Therapy believes that all behavior is purposeful to meet needs. The 5 basic needs include:
All behavior is Total Behavior:
Distress and psychological symptoms are caused by:
The goals of reality therapy are:
The fun part about this? Reality Therapy is a wonderful theory that can be integrated with Play Therapy in a theory called Reality Play Therapy! Techniques such as drawing, Sand Tray, puppets and so much more can help children explore how they meet their basic needs, gain control over their choices, evaluate choices, and process and explore different ways of thinking and acting!
It’s something I have been working into my Play Therapy practice with children and adults since I first learned about it in graduate school and helps children and parents both have compassion for themselves as well as empower children to change and have power over choice!
Drop a comment below and let me know if Reality Therapy is new to you or an intervention you have been using in your Play Therapy Practice!
Looking for a deeper dive into Reality Play Therapy complete with tons of interventions and downloadable workbook? Check out this training HERE!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,