Reality therapy is a person-centred approach that focuses on the here and now rather than issues from the past. It promotes problem-solving and making better choices to achieve specific goals.
The idea that mental distress is not the result of a mental illness is central to reality therapy. Reality Therapy emphasises that mental distress is the result of a socially universal human condition that occurs when an individual has not had their basic psychological needs met.
According to reality therapy, these basic psychological needs are:
- love and belonging
- power and achievement
- survival (nourishment, shelter, etc)
- freedom and independence
- fun (enjoyment and pleasure)
Reality Therapy believes that, whether we realise it or not, we are always seeking to meet these needs. This approach is designed to find ways of meeting your basic needs while facilitating you to become aware of, and change, negative thoughts and actions. Ultimately, reality therapists take the view that changing what we do is key to changing how we feel and getting what we want.
Reality therapy is a collaborative process between therapist and client, and it is unique in the sense that it is ongoing. This means that if one plan of action fails, new ones will continuously be devised until the therapist and client are both confident that positive results are taking place or are a near possibility.
This approach is particularly useful in helping to treat mental health problems such as addictions, eating disorders, substance abuse, phobias, anxiety, and other behavioural and emotional issues. It can also be useful in treating highly sensitive issues such as racial issues, sexual identity issues, and cultural clashes.