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What Are the Pros and Cons of Reality Therapy?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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According to most experts, the main advantages of reality therapy relate to the way it focuses clients directly on solutions to their problems. Reality therapists tend to avoid too much focus on internal issues and things in a person’s past, preferring instead to deal with things that are happening in the present. According to some, the strength of reality therapy can also be its weakness. Some people feel that reality therapists don’t have enough focus on how internal issues and things in a person’s memory can affect present-day behavior, potentially leaving clients with lingering issues. Additionally, some experts feel that the focus on the consequences of life decisions may make patients feel like they are being blamed for their problems, which could be counter-productive.

This kind of therapy is generally all about identifying problems, making plans to solve them, and then doing what is necessary to keep clients focused on implementing the plans. In this sense, it is a therapeutic method much more focused on solutions than causes. There may be some attention paid to the reason why a person has a problem, but only as much as is necessary to figure out a workable solution. This focus on plans and solving of problems is sometimes seen as a weakness because experts worry that the focus on psychological issues as a consequence of behavior may make patients feel like failures, potentially hurting their self-esteem.

Another thing this mode of therapy doesn’t stress is a focus on emotion. Feelings are basically seen as a consequence of behavior, and in this sense, they are essentially a symptom. Generally speaking, this kind of therapy is less concerned with the symptoms, focusing instead on how to solve the underlying issues that cause people to feel the way they do. Patients are generally urged to treat feelings as a barometer demonstrating progress or lack of progress towards whatever ultimate goal the person is striving for.

According to some experts, the biggest disadvantages of reality therapy come from the overall lack of focus on underlying issues that may be causing a person’s troubles, and a general lack of focus on internal states. Many therapists believe that patients often benefit from facing their inner demons and dealing with the traumatic things in their past. Additionally, some other therapeutic approaches really stress a focus on internal states and feelings, and people who favor those approaches might have many issues with this kind of therapy.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Sep 21, 2014

I know a person who went through several months of reality therapy before giving it up for cognitive behavioral therapy. She said that during her time receiving reality therapy, she felt as if her therapist was putting all of the blame on her for her problems. She also felt as if she could not talk about issues that she felt were causing her problems, so she came to a point where the therapy sessions were useless for her.

By Ocelot60 — On Sep 20, 2014

I am a firm idea that a person must work through issues of his or her past in order to be happy and productive. This is why I don't see how reality therapy can be beneficial to most clients.

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