Reality Therapy Exercises and Techniques (9)

This blog gives you a detailed note of reality therapy.

The blog defines reality therapy, mentions the uses of reality therapy, and gives details of techniques used in reality therapy.

Reality Therapy Exercises

Here are some reality therapy exercises:

  • Not criticizing, blaming, and/or comparing oneself to others.
  • Not giving in to excuses for any behavior, regardless of the legitimacy of excuses.
  • Focusing one’s energy on changing thoughts and behavior.
  • Having a focus on the present, as opposed to the past.
  • Not discussing symptoms.

Let’s start with the basic definition of reality therapy.

What is Reality Therapy? A Definition

Reality therapy is a kind of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify their basic primary needs which are not met, set realistic goals, resolve conflicts, and connect with others in a way that the individuals feel a sense of belongingness and meaning with them. 

Reality therapy presents the five basic needs of humans that need to be fulfilled in order to ensure the optimal functioning of the individual and improve his satisfaction with life.

These five basic needs are as follows: 

  • Survival needs; the needs related to food, water, shelter, and sexual needs. 
  • Love and belongingness needs; that includes seeking love and feel connected to family members, friends, relatives
  • Power needs; that includes the sense of accomplishment and a boost in self- efficacy as well as self-esteem. 
  • Freedom needs; which refers to to the feeling of being independent and autonomous, having inadequate personal space 
  • Fun needs; which refers to satisfaction, happiness, and joy

Reality therapy aims to provide assistance to clients in recognizing their unfulfilled primary needs.

The therapy helps them to work on achieving those primary needs through the goal-setting process.

It helps clients accept the reality of the world and make wise decisions that aid them in their goal achievement process by driving them close to their goals. 

Origins of Reality Therapy

Reality therapy was introduced by William Glasser in the 1960s.

He mentioned the five basic needs of human beings, which have already been discussed above.

William Glasser’s reality therapy is based on two main concepts. 

According to the first concept, all individuals have the ability to distract themselves from reality and focus on the enjoyable moments.

For example, when an individual takes leave from the office for going on vacation, he focuses on the enjoyment he would do on the vacation rather than thinking about the word that he will be missing.

Hence, individuals have a tendency to fantasize things that do not harm them but distract them from their purpose of life, and from doing things that would change their lives.

The second concept is that the goal of focusing on reality for making better choices is a good thing.

Often the phrase “reality check” is misinterpreted and taken negatively.

According to reality therapy, staying focused, or grounded means to be able to acknowledge one’s present goals, wishes, and values.

It means to be able to recognize what an individual really wants and how he will get it. This refers to self-fulfillment.

The Three Rs of Reality Therapy

There are three main Rs of reality therapy. These include reality, responsibility, and right or wrong.

These are explained in detail as follows: 

Reality: Reality refers to the point that whether the individual focuses on the outcomes of his actions or not.

If an individual is unable to determine the consequences of his actions, it will be more difficult for him to make better choices. 

Responsibility: Responsibility refers to the point that whether the individual takes responsibility for his words and actions and the effects of his actions on his life, without bothering about the other people’s opinion or not. 

Reality therapy encourages individuals to make good choices and achieve success for increasing the quality of relationships, but the main focus is on being successful without depending on others. 

Right and wrong: It refers to the point of whether the individual is able to acknowledge his goals and identify whether his choices are taking him towards his goal or away from his goal.

These goals could be related to material things, ethics, or even social considerations.

The Eight Steps of Reality Therapy

There are 8 steps that counselors or therapists use to apply reality therapy to their clients.

Depending upon specific relationships the following 8 steps are followed in reality therapy: 

  1. Build a good relationship.
  2. Observing the present behavior.
  3. Examine whether the behavior is helpful or not.
  4. Brainstorm alternatives.
  5. Make a commitment to try selected alternatives.
  6. At a later time examine the effectiveness of the commitment – no punishment and no excuses.
  7. Accept the logical and natural consequences of the behavior.
  8. Do not become discouraged

Reality Therapy Techniques

Reality therapy techniques developed and introduced by William Glasser after he noticed that his client was not happy even when their primary needs were fulfilled.

William Glasser stated that another important need that has been overlooked by the field of psychology is maintaining good relationships with others.

William Glasses developed reality therapy, following the principles of the choice therapy.

William Glasser worked on the notion that the behaviors and lives of the individuals are due to the choices they make. 

In light of choice therapy, an individual can control only his behavior and not other people’s behavior, for achieving their goals, fulfilling their needs, and resolving their conflicts.

No doubt reality therapy is not used widely, but reality therapy techniques are very helpful for individuals in making changes in their life.

The following are three common reality therapy techniques:

How to Change 101

How to change 101 is the most common reality therapy technique. A change can be brought about in the lives of individuals by following 6 steps.

The first step is to determine the perspective of others, the conflicts faced by the individual, and the working solution of the problem based on its effectiveness when used in the past.

To prevent overgeneralization, action language is used. 

The second step is to make a commitment to follow a particular direction. Then action language is used to determine the consequences of following this direction in the future.

Possibility talk is encouraged for helping individuals think and discuss the idea of change. 

In the third step, identify the current obstacles in the way of change and acknowledge the resources that may help in overcoming those obstacles.

In this step, the individuals are encouraged to identify the directions that prove to be ineffective and bring a change when followed in the past. 

Next, formulate an Action Plan on the basis of what you have learned till now.

Use the acronym SMART for making goals that are simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Then take actions on the basis of these goals and identify the patterns that are not helpful.

Stay determined until one achieves his goals. 

The last step is to celebrate the victory or improvement which an individual has made towards achieving his goals.

This acts as a reinforcement for his achievement. This technique can be used by anyone to make a change in his life.

Expectations vs Reality

The major objective of reality therapy is to help individuals manage their expectations in regard to their goal achievement.

Goal achievement becomes difficult when the goals are too ambitious.

Thus, it is very important to check whether the goals are measurable, attainable, and realistic or not.

Reality therapy technique, expectation versus reality, can help individuals identify what things they want to change in their lives, how they can bring about this change, and how to set realistic goals. 

The first step refers to defining reality. In this step, the individuals are asked to pay attention to their actions which have contributed to their present situation, the other things that have contributed to their current situation, along with their positive and negative experiences. 

The next step is to change the current situation.

An individual can change the situation by focusing on what things an individual needs to change at his work, in relationships, in the current situation, along with the things that the individual cannot change.

Then the individual needs to determine the resources that he needs for bringing a change in his life. 

For the next step, the individual is asked to define his expectation is with himself, relationships, and his future.

The individual has to check whether his expectations are reality-based or not and whether they can be achieved or not. 

The last step is to modify expectations.

The expectations which are not reality-based need to be modified, considering the present reality of the individual.

The expectations with work, relationships, and oneself can be modified if they are two low or too high.


WDEP is an acronym used in reality therapy. WDEP stands for wants, doing or direction, evaluation, and plan.

These four words are actually the components of WDEP, a reality therapy technique. 

WDEP technique is used to identify what an individual wants and what the individual is currently doing to get that thing.

The WDEP helps individuals determine whether their actions are taking them towards their goal and helping them and the goal achievement process or not.

The wants component refers to the things that an individual wants and what he wants to modify in his present situation. 

The doing component refers to what the individual is doing to achieve his wants.

This may include the actions, feelings, thoughts of the individual.

The individual may identify how his actions, feelings, and thoughts are influencing his health, life, goals. 

The evaluate component, allows an individual to examine the effect of the actions of the individual on his life.

It helps the individual to determine whether his thoughts, feelings, and actions are helping him in the process of goal achievement or not. 

The first three components of WDEP help an individual to make a plan for achieving his goals.

The fourth component, plan, allows an individual to make a realistic plan to achieve his measurable and attainable goals.

It directs an individual to himself that he would follow this plan sincerely to achieve his goals.

The following is a list of books that you can use to increase your knowledge about reality therapy.

Just click your favorite book and you will be redirected to the page from where you can access it.

What are the three R’s of reality therapy?

The three R’s of reality therapy include realism, responsibility, and right or wrong.

What are some of the main applications of reality therapy?

Reality therapy is very helpful in helping an individual resolve his conflict, treating disorders such as addiction and eating disorders, emotional and behavioral conduct, and so forth.

What is the WDEP of reality therapy?

WDEP a kind of reality therapy technique that helps individuals identify their wants, determine what they are doing for the attainment of their wants, evaluating whether their actions are helpful in the attainment of their wants or not, and finally making a realistic plan that would help them achieve their goals or wants.

What are the techniques of reality therapy?

A number of reality therapy techniques are used to help individuals.

Some of the reality therapy techniques include focusing on the present moment, avoid discussing symptoms, grounding energy for the purpose of bringing a change in behavior or life.

What are the principles of Choice Theory?

According to choice therapy, an individual chooses how to behave in a certain way to fulfill his basic needs and his behavior is driven by the five basic needs survival, love, and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.

What does the acronym WDEP stand for?

The acronym WDEP stands for wants, doing, evaluation, and plan.

This blog gave you details about reality therapy, origin of reality therapy, the three R’s of reality therapy,  eight steps of reality therapy, and reality therapy techniques.

We hope this blog would have increased your knowledge about reality therapy.

If you have any queries or questions, let us know through your comments. We will be glad to assist you.


Reality Therapy: Constructing Your Future One Choice at a Time Courtney E. Ackerman (2019)

What Is Reality Therapy? Techniques and Applications By Nate Miller (2019)

Reality Therapy Techniques: Interested in Making Changes in their Lives By Becky Tellum (2019)  

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