ABSTRACT

2 Reality Therapy was developed in the mid-1960s in two settings: a psychiatric hospital and a correctional institution, both in Los Angeles, California, USA. Its founder, William Glasser MD, trained as a board-certified psychiatrist and learned the traditional psychoanalytical approach of psychiatry at that time: to help clients gain insight, work through transference, deal with defence mechanisms, and thereby achieve a higher degree of adjustment and sanity. Through his own experience with patients, however, he came to believe that in spite of achieving the goals of the analytical approach, patients often remained stuck in their ineffective behaviours, and many failed to take responsibility for their behaviour and were often ill-equipped to generate more effective choices. His professor, G.L. Harrington, provided support and a sympathetic ear, enabling Glasser to formulate and implement the early principles of his new treatment modality, later known as Reality Therapy. In 1960, Glasser published Mental Health or Mental Illness? in which he presented the initial idea that mental health results from the satisfaction of internal needs. By satisfying these internal motivators, Glasser claimed, human beings are no longer victims trapped and oppressed by their environments.