Reality Therapy suggests that we are internally, not externally motivated. While other theories suggest that outside events “cause” us to behave in certain predictable ways, Reality Therapy teaches that outside events never “make” us do anything.
What drives our behavior are internally developed notions of what is most important and satisfying to us. The Basic Needs which provide the foundation for all motivation are: to be loving and connected to others, to achieve a sense of competence and personal power, to act with a degree of freedom and autonomy, to experience joy and fun and to survive.
Another major concept in Reality Therapy is the notion that we always have some choice about what we do. This does not mean that we have unlimited choice or that outside information is irrelevant as we choose what we do. It means that we have more control than some people might believe and that we are responsible for the choices we make.
Reality Therapy states that all our behavior is targeted toward getting our basic needs met. With that said, sometimes we are unaware of what needs we are actually trying to have met. Even still, we are sometimes aware of what need we’re trying to meet, but we are trying to meet those needs in ways that are causing us more difficulties.
Using Reality Therapy, counselors and therapists assist clients in understanding the connection between their individual needs and the decisions they are making. While this may seem rather simple on the surface, all of our basic needs are intertwined and interrelated. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to see the connections between needs and behavior.
Through a strong relationship with clients, the therapist assists clients in identifying which needs are most important, which needs aren’t being met and developing healthy ways of having needs met so that destructive or counterproductive behavior decreases.