Reality therapy is a "no nonsense", "common-sense" approach that paraprofessionals
have found especially useful in working with unmotivated, institutionalized clients
(e.g., delinquents, prisoners, drug abusers).

Basic Assumptions

   Choice Theory: We are "control systems" and behavior originates from inside us
      as we attempt to close the gap between what we want and what we perceive that
      we are getting, i.e., behavior is our best attempt to control the external world
      in order to get what we want to satisfy our needs.

   Within one's potential, a person is self-determined; therefore, a person
      is responsible for his/her behavior.
   Choices and decisions are more important than conditions in determining
      responsible or irresponsible behavior.
   Most mental and emotional disturbances result from irresponsibility and
      the underlying problem almost always involves an unsatisfying relationship
      (or total lack of a relationship) with another person.

   Total behavior has four components: acting, thinking, feeling, physiology--
      acting & thinking can be chosen; feeling & physiology follow.


   Belonging (love)--to love and be loved.
Power or achievement (self-worth)--to feel worthwhile to self and others.
   Freedom or independence
Physiological: Survival

Self Identity

   Success (flexible, effective) vs. Failure (rigid, ineffective)

   Basic routes to success identity are fulfilling the above needs in ways that
      involve others but are not at the expense of others.

Goals of Psychotherapy

   General: Responsibility; Autonomy (independence) and Connectedness (love &

      Responsibility = the ability to fulfill one's needs in ways that do not
         deprive others of the ability to fulfill their needs.

   Specific: Client determined and individualized long term goals.

      "What do you want?"
      Goals should be simple and realistic or attainable.

   The goal is not necessarily happiness since unhappiness is considered to be
a result of, not the cause of, irresponsibility.

   Teach clients better and more effective ways of attaining what they want.

Emphases in Therapy

   Behavior (and thinking) rather than feelings (and physiology):
      "We are what we do."
   Present rather than past:
      "Don't let the client use the past as an excuse."
   Conscious rather than unconscious:
      Don't use dream analysis, free association, transference.
   Strengths rather than weaknesses; successes instead of failures.

   Do not allow the client to complain, blame or criticize.
   Do not accept excuses.
   Do not punish or criticize the client--but do not stand in the way of reasonable
      Schools without failure--designed to minimize failure experiences.
   Do not give up on the client.
   Morality and values are discussed.
   Reality and its limits are discussed--of therapy, of life.

Relationship between Client and Therapist

   Involvement of therapist with the client is a key.
      Therapist is warm, supportive and understanding; make friends.
      Don't do it for me ---> Do it for me.
   Therapist is directive and didactic.

Procedures:  The "WDEP" System

   1) Wants (and Needs)
      Ask: What do you want?

   2) Doing and Direction
      Ask: What are you doing to get what you want?
           In what overall direction is your life heading?

   3) Evaluation
      Ask: Are your wants realistic/attainable?
           Is what you are doing now getting you what you want?
           Is your life headed toward a desirable destination?
           Is what you are doing now against the rules; is it harmful to
              yourself or others?

   4) Planning and Committment
      Ask: What might you try instead?
      Help client explore alternatives and develop a simple and realistic
          action plan to get what he/she wants.

      Get a commitment.
         Contract--in writing, if possible.

   Basically, spend a minimal amount of time discussing problems, and a
      maximum amount of time discussing more effective ways to fulfill needs.