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Reality Therapy a Neo-Adlerian Approach

Michelle Malters

Adler University


Carlson, Maniacci, and Sackett-Maniacci (in press) discuss Alfred Adler’s work and how over time there has been a recognition of how many theoretical approaches have significant similarities with Adler’s Individual Psychology. Neo-Adlerian approaches are theories that are believed to be heavily influenced by the work of Adler. Within Neo-Adlerian approaches, theorists have taken major concepts of Individual Psychology and used those concepts to produce a theory of their own. These Neo-Adlerian approaches may have many similarities related to core tenants and may have some significant differences. William Glasser’s Reality Therapy (Glasser, 1965; Glasser, 2000) is the theory that will be explored in this paper. This paper will explore both similarities and differences of the above named approaches.

This writer proposes that there are many similarities between the Reality Therapy and Individual Psychology approaches. There are also some strong distinctions between the two theories. For some, these similarities may bring curiosity to the thought that Reality Therapy may be a Neo-Adlerian approach.

This paper will primary focus on Reality Therapy and its comparison to Alfred Adler’s (Adler, 1956) Individual Psychology.

William Glasser and Choice Theory

In the 1950’s and 1960’s William Glasser, a psychiatrist, began to question classical ideas of therapy during his time working in inpatient psychiatric and correctional settings. As a classically trained psychiatrist, Glasser witnessed in his work that clients appeared to remain stuck in their ineffective behaviors regardless of their ability to gain insight and achieve psychoanalytic therapeutic goals (Wubbolding, 2011). Choice Theory was developed by William Glasser. He introduced choice theory to the world as a way of explaining behaviors and human motivation. William Glasser believed it was more pertinent to focus on issues of the conscious rather than unconscious. Like Adler, Glasser believed that the popular analytic approaches kept individuals stuck in their behaviors, primarily due to a lack of taking responsibility. Glasser held that progress could be measured not simply through insight but through changes in behaviors (Glasser, 1965).

Robert Wubblding (2015) outlined the five principles of Choice Theory. All human behavior is influenced by the five human needs. All humans formulated wants based on their needs, and these wants are based on their quality world. Behavior is generated when an individual’s quality world is out of balance because desires are not satisfied. All behavior is purposeful. All behaviors are attempts to impact the external world in order to meets goals and needs.

Reality Therapy is based on William Glasser’s choice theory. Reality therapy can be viewed as the vehicle in which choice theory is practiced and enacted. Choice theory is an organized system of elucidating perceptions, motivations, and behaviors. The purpose of working towards this understanding is to shift an individual’s focus from an external to an internal locus of control. As the name suggests, choice is emphasized within this theory, all humans have the ability to make choices, and their choices influence their experienced satisfaction and needs being met. Choice theory is utilized to provide understanding of how the human mind works and reality therapy provides techniques in working with people on choices.

In developing Choice Theory, William Glasser was influenced by the works of William Powers, particularly in relation to the ideas of internal control (Peterson, 2005). Choice theory can be found in many of the early theories of psychology as well as historically in philosophy. William Glasser followed the work of William James and Helmut Kaiser (Glasser, 1965). It does not appear that William Glasser referenced Alfred Adler in the development of his theory. However, Glasser and other Reality Therapy theorists had made mention of Adler’s works and the similarities between Individual Psychology and Reality Therapy (Wubbolding, 2011; Peterson, 2005).

William Glasser (1965) proposed the idea of the five basic needs that every human must have met in order to have mental health and be effective in their behaviors. The five basic needs are survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. The most significant basic need is loving and belonging. An individual must be able to show love for another as well as a capacity to receive love. Part of this need is to feel worthy. This need can never be fully satisfied; the psychological symptoms will vary in severity for each individual. Survival encapsulates the essentials that humans need to preserve themselves such as shelter, food, etc. Power can be found when individuals choose behaviors that provide them with a sense of internal control. When this need is being met, an individual will feel a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Freedom is motivated by a desire for individuals to make effective choices from a variety of options. Human beings have an innate desire for independence. Fun encompasses the human desire for satisfaction and partaking in enjoyable activities. Every person experiences fun differently, the person experiences some sense of pleasure in their choices and behaviors (Wubbolding, 2011).

Maniacci et al (in press) discussed 14 constructs of Individual Psychology. Written below a detailed comparison of those 14 concepts and the similarities and differences with Reality Therapy concepts.

Neo-Adlerian Approach

Egalitarian Relationship

From a reality therapy perspective, the collaborative relationship between the therapist and client is viewed to be one of the most important aspects of therapy. An egalitarian relationship is equally as highlighted in the Adlerian approach. The concept of encouragement in therapy is valued in both Individual Psychology and Reality Therapy approaches (Carlson & Glasser, 2004).

From a Reality Therapy perspective if a client and counselor are not able to connect, then there will be no opportunity for the client to make changes (Glasser, 2000). In Reality Therapy, the counselor works to encourage the client and help the client to find hope. Within the therapeutic relationship the concepts of empathy, congruence, positive regard, curiosity, openness, acceptance, and love are stressed. Williams Glasser (1965) explained that there are tonics and toxins within the therapeutic relationship. Tonics are things that all therapists should exemplify. The tonics are commitment to therapy, sharing perceptions and wants, having structure in sessions, the use of reflective listening skills, refrain from judgment, use of metaphors and stories, allow for silence, focus on the present and future, and redirect the client when necessary. Toxins are blaming a client, becoming involved in argumentative conversation with a client, criticizing a client, accepting excuses, and giving up on the client.

Early Life Experiences

Glasser (1965) wrote that within the Reality Therapy approach there is an acknowledgement of the possible impact of previous experiences (childhood and later). However, there is a great emphasis on here and now behaviors and motivations. Childhood experiences are not explored within Reality Therapy. There is an understanding that the environmental and cultural influences have a great impact on human development. Glasser viewed exploring the past to be useless, nothing could be accomplished by looking into the past because the work is in the present (Carlson & Glasser, 2004). In Reality Therapy the only time a counselor and client would explore the past is to discuss previous successes (Wubbolding, 2011).

Adlerians tend to spend a good deal of time exploring one’s past through the use of early recollections, family constellation analysis, lifestyle assessment, etc. The relationship between siblings has a strong effect on individual development (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999). Carlson & Glasser (2004) commented on the fact that within Individual Psychology the past is not particularly important, but what is important is the individual’s perception of the past.

Even though William Glasser was not interested in the family constellation, he had interest in family values. He believed that understanding family values could be useful in therapy (Carlson & Glasser, 2004).


William Glasser (1965) believed that all behaviors are intentional and purposeful. Behaviors are believed to make an impact upon the individual’s external world in order to have their needs met or to achieve goals. Humans choose behaviors in an attempt to satisfy needs. These behaviors may prove to either be effective or ineffective. Alfred Adler held a similar belief that behaviors are purposeful. Within the Individual Psychology approach, the therapist works to understand the purpose of behaviors (Carlson, Watts, & Maniacci,.2006).

Both Adler and Glasser rejected the notion of external motivation. Instead, both Adler and Glasser held the belief that people are capable of making choices and producing change (Peterson, 2005). With this belief of internal control comes the concept of responsibility. Individuals are responsible for those choices and behaviors in both Individual Psychology and Reality Therapy. Glasser viewed responsibility as “the ability to fulfill one's needs, and to do so in a way that does not deprive others of the ability to fulfill their needs" (Glasser, 1965). Adler acknowledged the lack of choices that one may have based on limited options. Part of Adler’s views of motivation include ideas related to community feeling and social interest. If individuals have low social interest, they may attempt to gain superiority in a way that negatively affects others. Whereas Glasser held a broader perspective of all behaviors being chosen (Peterson, 2005).

While Adler wrote about striving for superiority as motivation, Glasser wrote about satisfying basic needs as motivation. Glasser highlighted love and belonging as the primary basic need. Glasser (1965) wrote about the importance of love and belonging and how to have mental health likely means to have at least one relationship or connection with another person. The other person in the relationship must be able to meet their own basic needs as well as be in touch with reality for the relationship to promote health. Without a relationship with another person and without care for self, one is incapable of fulfilling their needs.

Social Embeddedness

Carlson, Watts, & Maniacci (2006) explained that all people are moving in the social networks in which they exist. Behaviors are made in an attempt to fit into one’s community. All people are ultimately attempting to find belonging. Within social embeddedness, is the concept of community feeling and social interest. Social interest can be seen in cooperative relationships with others. Social embeddedness is first seen in one’s family.

Within Reality therapy, there is a perceived need for a sense of belonging. Individuals have a desire to fit in and find enjoyment from socially fitting in well with others (Carlson & Glasser, 2004). It is believed that people need to have at least one stable relationship in which they care for another and are also cared for. Individuals need to feel worthwhile in their social context. There is not a comprehensive understanding of community, and connectedness is spoken about more on an individual level. However, to be responsible means to not deprive others of their ability to meet their own needs. When individuals take part in a relationship with another that provides and gives care, the individual is likely to choose effective behaviors and the symptomology of mental illness will dissipate (Glasser, 1965).

Positive Psychology

Adler believed in not focusing on the weaknesses that clients have but rather viewing people in a way that appreciates and hones in on a person’s strengths (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999). Carlson, Watts, & Maniacci (2006) indicate that mental health can be seen in those who exhibit a high level of social interest. Social interest can be seen when individuals are concerned with others, and not just themselves, as well as work cooperatively with others. Both Adler and Glasser believed that symptomology could be worked through to have an individual function on a more effective or healthier level (Peterson, 2005).

Within the Reality Therapy approach there is a focus on health rather than psychopathology. This aligns well with positive psychology. Both Adler and Glasser rejected the notion of mental illness that was highlighted in Freudian theory (Peterson, 2011). Both of these approaches place an emphasis on client strengths. Glasser (1965) stated that all individuals who need mental health treatment are expressing their problems because they are unable to meet their basic needs. The severity of the expressed symptom is based on how much difficulty and how well the need is being fulfilled. Glasser believed that as people chose behaviors that were more effective in basic needs satisfaction their symptoms would start to dissipate (Peterson, 2005). Individuals who present as mentally healthy exhibit future oriented thinking, accept the rules of the society they live in, are adaptive when presented with changes, find fulfillment in their daily life, and are willing to change their behaviors (Wubbolding, 2011).

Both Adler and Glasser disagreed with the concept of the labeling of clients. Even the commonly held idea of psychopathology is viewed as beneficial to the client. For example, the symptoms of depression may allow a person to avoid a situation that is challenging or may even be useful for an individual to seek help (Peterson, 2005). From a Reality Therapy perspective, the labeling of clients provides clients with an excuse to continue ineffective behaviors and relinquish responsibility (Glasser, 1965).


Alfred Adler (1956) postulated that individuals should be viewed in their entirety rather than examining parts or the sum of the parts. A person can only be adequately understood in their totality.

Carlson and Glasser (2004) agreed that holism could be equated with Glasser’s concept of total behavior. Glasser (1965) explained that total behavior in Reality Therapy accounts for one’s actions, feelings, thoughts, and physiology. These components are viewed as inseparable. Humans maintain control by having all of these components working together in a system. One’s needs and wants are the motivation for four of the components of total behavior. Humans are believed to have more control over their actions and thoughts and less control over their feelings and physiology. Due to having less control of feelings and physiology in therapy, there is a focus on the thoughts and actions of a client. To change one of the components of total behavior is to change all of the components.


Unlike other popular theories of the time, Adler did not believe that people were driven by internal forces. From an individual psychology perspective, people strive to meet their goals. Every person is moving towards goals, therefore this movement is unique to the individual. The most common goal is belonging (Adler, 1957). This movement towards goals is seen in the concept of teleology.

Glasser (1965) indicated that individuals are viewed as working towards meeting their goals through their behaviors. In Reality Therapy, this is where choice theory comes into play. Humans are believed to be motivated to satisfy at least one of the basic needs. Every person makes choices that they believe will satisfy their wants and needs; these choices vary from person to person.


Individual Psychology theory holds that humans are both proactive and reactive in their environment. People are creative and capable of action in constructing their experience (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

Glasser explained that humans can only control their own behaviors, however, they also attempt to control various things in their world. Glasser viewed this to be positive because people can attempt to control negative aspects of their environments (Carlson & Glasser, 2004). Glasser viewed responsibility as “the ability to fulfill one's needs, and to do so in a way that does not deprive others of the ability to fulfill their needs" (Glasser, 1965). An individual perceives things from the world around them and acts to impact and receive input from the world (Wubbolding, 2011).

Individuals are responsible for their choices and behaviors in both Individual Psychology and Reality Therapy (Peterson, 2005). Adler acknowledged the lack of choices that one may have based on limited options. Part of Adler’s views of motivation include ideas related to community feelings and social interest. Whereas, Glasser held a broader perspective of all behaviors being chosen (Peterson, 2005).

Subjective Perception of Phenomenology

Phenomenology is an individual’s perception of one’s self and the world around them. This can be viewed as one’s subjective reality. Objective reality may be less important to an individual as compared to how they make meaning of their world (Carlson, Maniacci, and Sackett-Maniacci, in press).

Glasser’s assumption of one’s quality world is quite similar. Glasser (1965) explains that as we are growing up we have experiences that we label as pleasant or unpleasant, need fulfilling or unsatisfying. Individuals develop wants based primarily from family and cultural influences. Every person’s quality world is unique to them. The quality world is comprised of references of the things most important to the person. These references may include places, hopes for the future, important people, etc. One’s quality world includes the future and the present. The quality world sets standards and expectations for life. During the different stages of development, the quality world changes. Individuals compare their quality world with their current wants and needs. Needs are general to all humans whereas wants are specific to the individual (Wubbolding, 2011).

Soft Determinism

Alfred Adler believed in the concept of soft determinism. The concept of soft determinism suggests that although humans are influenced by their genetics and environment, they have the ability to make choices and are instrumental in their world. Individuals are not bound by their heredity or physical environments (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

Within Reality Therapy, it is believed that every human has ‘genetic instructions’, every person’s genes provide innate needs that all humans have during their lifetime. These needs motivate all behaviors (Glasser, 1965). However, William Glasser believed that even though humans have past experience, and in ways have been influenced by them, people always have choices. People will make choices that they perceive to best fit situations based on their need to satisfy their basic needs (Wubbolding, 2011).

Social Field Theory

All people are exposed to and influenced by the environment in which they live and grow up in. Because of this, people cannot be separated from their social context. In order to best understand a client, a therapist must work to understand how the client interacts with others (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

In Reality Therapy, individuals are influenced by their social contexts. However, people are still viewed to have full control of their choices (Glasser, 1965). Glasser (1965) believed individuals had to have stable interpersonal relationships with significant figures in their lives to have mental health.

Motivation as Striving

Adler (1956) explained that humans are always moving, and are attempting to move toward a perceived plus situation from a perceived minus. All people are striving for superiority.

In Reality Therapy, people are not viewed in a static manner. People are always working towards fulfilling their needs by choosing behaviors. Their behaviors may be effective or ineffective in meeting a want or need (Glasser, 1965). Choice Theory and quality world seems to fit in well with the Adlerian assumption of motivation for striving. Glasser stated that he did not disagree with Adler’s ideas related to motivation for striving, however, he did not have a framework within his theory that clearly dealt with issues of superiority or compensating for feelings of inferiority (Carlson & Glasser, 2004). While striving for superiority is not specifically referenced in any of the resources that this writer utilized in the writing of this paper, a comparison that may be similar is the use of one’s quality world. An individual will compare their ideal quality worlds to their current behavior and make behavioral choices that seem to best fit (Wubbolding, 2011). This idea, in essence, may benefit the individual and others in their environment.

Ideographic Orientation

In Individual Psychology, all individuals are considered to be unique. There are some general qualities of humanity but to understand a person we must attend to their unique qualities and way of being (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

In Reality Therapy, an individuals’ quality world is taken into account which is unique to every person. William Glasser (1965) believed that basic needs and the core tenants of Reality Therapy are universal to all human beings. However, the way that one meets their needs and experiences satisfaction in those needs likely looks different from person to person. How one perceives the world is also different from person to person. This can be seen as a grey area in understanding this as a possible similarity in theories.

Psychology of Use

According to Dreikurs (1967), psychopathology occurs when individuals are not fulfilling their life tasks, not moving towards their goals, and/or lacking social interest. Symptoms of psychopathology are chosen by the person based on a perception that the symptoms will assist in moving the individual toward their selected goals. An individual’s lifestyle and symptoms provide maintenance of convictions and behaviors (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

Glasser (1965) believed that all behavior is purposeful. People choose behaviors for two reasons. The first reason to choose a behavior is to impact the external world. The impact upon the external world is made in attempt to meet a need. The second purpose of behavior is to communicate with the outside world. Behaviors are messages that can communicate needs, wants, or beliefs of the individual (Wubbolding, 2011). The ultimate goal of behaviors is to get something from the behaviors. Even if the behaviors or choices seem ineffective the client is believed to be gaining something. The person would hopefully be getting something that meets a basic need. Every person compares their wants to what they are receiving from the world around them. Through behaviors individuals are attempting to gain perceptions that parallel their wants (Wubbolding, 2011).

In both Reality Therapy and Individual Psychology, even the commonly held idea of psychopathology is viewed as beneficial to the client. For example, the symptoms of depression may allow a person to avoid a situation that is challenging or may even be useful for an individual to seek help (Peterson, 2005). Within the Individual Psychology approach, the therapist works to understand the purpose of behaviors (Carlson, Watts, & Maniacci, 2006).

Acting as if

Mosak and Maniacci (1999) explained that every person has perceptions of themselves and the world around them. People take these perceptions and create a guide for how they navigate and behave in their world. People act in a way that is in accordance with this guide with a belief that is an accurate depiction.

One’s quality world can be viewed in a very similar way. One’s quality world can assist a person in navigating choices. People hold perceptions of others and the world around them. People judge their perceptions as to whether or not they are satisfying needs or somehow troublesome to the person’s quality world. Individuals are navigating their worlds and make decisions based on their desire to gain input from the external world (Wubbolding, 2011).

Self-fulfilling Prophecy

When people “act as if”, their perceptions are accurate then they start to filter feedback from the world in a similar matter. With this filter, people tend to find what they expect to see (Mosak and Maniacci, 1999).

Glasser (1984) discussed the quality world and how people filter information from the outside world. He stated that there were two different levels of perceptions: the lower and higher levels. The lower level filters information by labeling information without judging it. The higher level of perception assigns value to the incoming information. The value placed on information can be neutral or be assigned positive or negative. Our perceptions create our reality. These perceptions of one’s reality will affect the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the individual.


Adler believed that people are capable of change and frequently do change. Individuals are capable of taking responsibility and existing cooperatively with others. While humans are viewed as capable and responsible, Adler believed that in nature humans are neutral, not good or bad (Mosak & Maniacci, 1999).

Humans are not believed to neither good or bad, but all humans have the ability to make decisions about their thoughts and actions (Wubbolding, 2011). From a Reality Therapy perspective, humans are capable of change through evaluating their total behavior, taking responsibility, and making effective choices (Glasser, 1965). Within Reality Therapy, it is the counselor’s duty to support their client in the change process (Glasser, 2000).


Individual Psychology can be considered an integrative approach. Therapists work to meet each client’s unique needs. Therapists attempt to be flexible while also being consistent in their work (Carlson, Watts, & Maniacci, 2006).

Reality Therapy is not considered to be an integrative approach (Peterson, 2005). There is no scholarly evidence that Reality therapists have used the theory in an integrative way with other approaches.


The Adlerian approach has a host of interventions that are unique to the theory. Some interventions unique to Individual Psychology include the question, the push button technique, catching one’s self, spitting in the soup, acting ‘as if’ (Manaster & Corsini, 1982). Reality therapy has a limited number of prescribed interventions within the theory (Peterson, 2005). Some of the interventions are common among many theoretical approaches.

One of the greatest interventions in Reality Therapy is the WDEP system that was developed by Robert Wubbolding (Wubbolding, 2011). Wubbloding (2011) explained that the WDEP system is comprised of Wants, Doing, Self-Evaluation, and Planning. The Wants part of the WDEP system is where counselor and client explore the client’s current wants, where the client perceives their locus of control to be, and their current level of commitment. The D stands for Doing. In this stage, the client explores their behaviors and what they are doing. During this stage, the client’s total behavior is examined and actions and emotions are explored. In the Self-Evaluation stage (the E in the WDEP system), the client assesses their behaviors and how these behaviors are meeting their wants and needs. The P stands for Planning. Plans should include attainable and measurable behaviors that can be carried out quickly without the reliance of others. The counselor works collaboratively with the client in order to make plans for meeting needs and choosing effective behaviors for the future (Wubbolding, 2015).

The WDEP system can be compared to the four stages in the Individual Psychology approach. Dreikur’s (1967) outlined the four phases of therapy in Individual Psychology which include the Relationship, Assessment, Insight, and Reorientation stages. The reorientation stage of Individual Psychology has many similarities to the planning part of the WDEP system. Much of the Wants, Doing, and Self-Evaluation of the WDEP system can be compared to the Assessment stage of the Individual Psychology approach. In both approaches, the therapist and the client work together to discover different factors pertinent to therapy and how the individual operates (Peterson, 2005). This is also a time for the therapist to better understand the client in general. In Reality Therapy there is a strong belief that a relationship must be formed with a client before there is a possibility for change (Glasser, 2000). This assumption fits in well with the Relationship stage of Individual Psychology. Reality Therapists work collaboratively with clients and challenge them. Reality Therapist do not shy away from providing ideas and thoughts to their clients, even if they are not certain they are correct (Carlson & Glasser, 2004). The Reorientation stage of Individual Psychology is very similar to the world that therapists and clients do in Reality Therapy. Therapists assist clients in making more effective choices that will ultimately change behaviors and satisfying client needs (Wubbolding, 2011).

Other therapeutic techniques and interventions frequently used in Reality Therapy include the use of humor, skillful questions used to gain understanding of client, role playing, confrontation, bibliotherapy, and obtaining commitments (Wubbolding, 2015). Almost all of these interventions can and are demonstrated by therapists who practice from the Individual Psychology approach (Carlson & Glasser, 2004).

Therapeutic Goals

The therapeutic goals in Reality Therapy and Individual Psychology are rather similar. Glasser (1965) indicates that clients will experience success in therapy when they acknowledge the world around them and realize that they must work to fulfill their needs within the context of reality. The ultimate goals of Reality Therapy are to assist clients in making more effective choices and clients meeting their basic needs through more effective behaviors. These goals are found to be much easier to accomplish when the client has relationships that he/she perceives to be satisfying (Wubbolding, 2011). These goals can be met after the therapist and client work collaboratively to identify which basic needs are not being met.

Overall goals of Individual Psychology can be viewed as establishing a positive therapeutic relationship, assisting clients in choosing behaviors that are socially responsible, and being effective in meeting their goals (Manaster & Corsini, 1982). Adler (1956) identified that individuals find themselves sad and isolated when they are not prepared to meet different demands of life; they are discouraged by fear of failure. During exploration of a client’s lifestyle, a therapist can assist clients in identifying basic mistakes. Along with awareness of basic mistakes, a client can move toward more effective behaviors. Within Reality Therapy, clients go through a similar process in which they conduct a self-evaluation about current behaviors and how those behaviors are promoting basic needs or how behaviors are ineffective in meeting basic needs. Clients must acknowledge and accept the ineffective nature of their behaviors before they can work toward effective behaviors (Peterson, 2005). Both theories hold a vested interest in assisting clients in having positive relationships with others and from those positive relationships come greater mental health.

Empirical Research/Assessment

One of the biggest criticisms of Reality Therapy and also Individual Psychology is the lack of empirical research that supports the use of these theories in practice. Both of these theories have a scholarly journal, The Journal of Individual Psychology and the Journal of Reality Therapy, however these journals do not typically include articles that include studies with comparison or control groups that can show their treatment efficacy (Peterson, 2005).

Within Individual Psychology, there are different assessments or methods of assessment that are commonly used. Therapists assess clients in an effort to better understand the client. These assessments may include: gathering early recollections, conducting a life style assessment, Basic Adlerian Scales for Interpersonal Success-Adult Form (BASIS-A), etc. Within Reality Therapy, there are no standard assessments used in practice. Reality therapist instead attempt to ask skillful questions in order to obtain information and gain understanding (Peterson, 2005).


The strong emphasis of choice in Reality Therapy is one of the strongest connections with Individual Psychology. Both Reality Therapy and Individual Psychology hold goals of assisting clients to accepting responsibility, make effective or useful choices, and perhaps most importantly empowering clients. When clients are empowered and make effective choices they are likely to find more satisfaction in their lives and meet their needs. Reality Therapy and Individual Psychology both operate under the theoretical assumptions of humans possessing and working with an internal locus of control. Both theories propose that all individuals are motivated by and need to have relationships with others. Both Individual Psychology and Reality Therapy approaches place emphasis on working with client strengths instead of only attending to symptoms and areas of weakness. Therapist working from both approaches utilize similar techniques and interventions in order to assist their clients in meeting therapeutic goals.

In conclusion, it can be surmised that Reality Therapy has many core assumptions that are similar with Individual Psychology (approximately 85 percent). There are many similarities and some distinctions between theories and therapeutic practice. The information provided above may be enough to suggest that Reality Therapy is a Neo-Adlerian approach. Whether William Glasser was influenced by Adler or just ended up on his own with similar concepts. One way honors Adler and the other way seems to validate his approach and ideas.


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Wubbolding, R. E. (2015). The voice of William Glasser: Accessing and continuing evolution of reality therapy. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 37(3), 189-205.

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