Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Reality and Family Systems Therapy
Key Concepts and Unique Attributes
Whereas reality therapy emphasizes choice and responsibility as a means of self-fulfillment, family systems therapy gives priority to the affect familial affiliations and interactions have on client's direction and choice. Reality therapy is based on the choice theory, which assumes people need satisfying relationships to experience fulfillment. Family systems therapy is founded on the notion that individual's learn to function as part of a system that is the family. Individuals develop a way of being within the family which becomes the way they relate in larger systems or social situations.
Reality therapy rejects the medical model as well as the significance of one's past, although the family systems therapy addresses the foundational experience of the individual's past and present role in the family unit as a significant contribution to present functioning. Reality therapy claims people continue to make choices that satisfy the fundamental needs of "survival, love and belonging, power or achievement, freedom or independence, and fun" (Corey, 2009, p. 317). In essence, family therapy posits people navigate foundational needs by orienting themselves within the family unit. As the individual learns to function within the family, so he or she learns to relate to the rest of the world (Corey, 2009). Neither theory supports the medical model of illness.
Historical/contextual development of the theory
William Glasser rejected his original psychoanalytic training in an effort to find a theory that emphasized personal responsibility. After spending years amending, revising, and developing William Powers' control theory, he established his theory, and called it choice theory. The essence and basic assumption of his theory is the idea that people control their lives by the choices they make.
The family systems approach was born over many years, but especially during the 1950's, 60's and 70's. Adler's seminal contribution to the systems approach inspired further explorations into family therapy theory and practice. Other theorists contributed additional core concepts and slight variations to the theme of the family as a primary systemic contributor to psychological disturbances and the individual's relationship to the world.
Role of the Therapist
In reality therapy, the therapist's intention is to create a close therapeutic relationship and function as the client's advocate (Corey, 2009). In the role of a teacher, the therapist teaches clients self-evaluation as well as how to evaluate relationships; specifically how well their relationships fulfill their needs and desires. The therapist continues to provide guidance in helping clients determine what they want, and how they intend to fulfill those desires. The therapist challenges clients to explore their behavior and commit to change that will facilitate fulfilling their goals. The therapist always encourages hope and maintains a relationship with the client that they have a sense of camaraderie.
In the family systems approach, the therapist functions as a collaborator, teacher, coach and model supported by respect, caring, empathy and an authentic interest in each family member (Corey, 2009). The therapist helps the family see patterns in the individual relationships and how each member can get stuck in particular roles that become detrimental to the individual and the family as a whole.
Research Support for the Theory
Bitter (1993) believes "human living is always influenced by experiences in families and groups" (p. 1). He found using techniques consistent with family therapy in couples therapy helped clients engage in change rather than remain in established routines that were detrimental to the relationship. Keeling, Dolbin-Macnab, Hudgins, and Ford (2008) found potential for family systems therapy to enhance family health in when families provide care for elder members. Corey (20090 claims family systems therapy is useful in marriage counseling, communication problems within families, during family crises, and creating better individual relationships within the family as well as creating a better holistic family functioning.
Reality Therapy has been used extensively for addiction therapy as well as recovery intervention programs (Corey, 2009). Carbo and Carbo (2010) found reality therapy effective for middle school students with behavioral problems. Furthermore, reality therapy is effective for clients seeking change and for a short-term approach (Corey, 2009). Minatrea and Wesley (2008) found using animal assisted therapy with reality therapy was effective for treating substance addiction.
Bitter, J. R. (1993). Communication styles, personality priorities, and social interest: Strategies for helping couples build a life together. Individual Psychology: Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 49(3-4), 330-350.
Carbo, B. C., & Carbo, T. M. (2010). Reality Therapy: A Group Intervention for Middle School Students With Behavioral Problems. Lecture presented at American Psychological Association 2010 Convention Presentation.
Keeling, M. L., Dolbin-Macnab, M. L., Hudgins, C., & Ford, J. (2008). Caregiving in Family Systems: Exploring the Potential for Systemic Therapies. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 27(3), 45-63. doi: 10.1521/jsyt.2008.27.3.45
Minatrea, N. B., & Wesley, M. C. (2008). Reality therapy goes to the dogs. International Journal of Reality Therapy, 28(1), 69-77.