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EVALUATION

Overview

Although researchers continue to conduct studies validating the use of reality therapy, the widespread interest in the theory indicates that many practitioners have confidence in its efficacy From 1975 to 2009, more than 7,700 persons worldwide completed the 18-month training program and were certified in reality therapy. Anecdotal evidence points toward the theory's usefulness with a wide variety of issues, such as eating disorders, child abuse, marriage, aging, elective mutism, career satisfaction, study habits, self-esteem, assertive behavior, and many others (N. Glasser, 1980,1989).

Supporting Research

Practitioners of reality therapy represent virtually every helping profession: counselors, therapists, educators, managers, chemical dependency workers, corrections specialists, and many others. This overview of research represents a sampling of some such studies.

W. Glasser (1965) described the dramatic effect of a reality therapy program in a psychiatric hospital. The average stay in a ward of 210 men was 15 years. Within 2 years of the program, 75 men had been released with only 3 returning. In a study of the effects of reality therapy in a rural elementary school, Bowers (1997) found improvements in relationships and self-concept but little change in school attendance. The author noted that school attendance was not a significant problem at this school.

Studying the effects of reality therapy in a therapeutic community in Ireland, Honeyman (1990) found significant changes in the residents' self-esteem, awareness of their inability to control their drinking, and insight into living in a more inner-controlled manner. Positive effects have also been shown when reality therapy has been used with teachers (Parish, 1988, 1991; Parish, Martin, & Khramtsova, 1992), undergraduate students (Peterson & Truscott, 1988), graduate students (Peterson, Chang, & Collins, 1997; Peterson, Woodward, & Kissko, 1991), foster parents (Corwin, 1987), negatively addicted inmates (Chance et al., 1990), and student athletes (Martin & Thompson, 1995). Y. S. Kim (2001) found a positive correlation between the use of group reality therapy with parents and self-esteem as well as parent-child relationships. Similarly, in a 1-year follow-up study of previous research, R.-I. Kim and Hwang (2001) found constant, positive, long-term effects on middle school students' sense of internal control.

In a study of the use of reality therapy among Malaysian mental health workers, Jusoh, Mahmud, and Mohd Ishak (2008) found reality therapy applicable in the Malaysian context when consideration is given to various beliefs and backgrounds of clients. "The eastern culture which emphasizes close relationships, authoritative orientation, large family structure, dependency on each other, loyal, collaborative, harmonious, emotional control, and conservatism is different from the individualistic western culture" (p. 11). The main adjustment lies in the process of self-evaluation that requires a balance between personal satisfaction and group harmony.

From 1986 through 2006, Professor Rose-Inza Kim, dean (retired) at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, facilitated 250 studies. A meta-analysis of 43 studies (R.-I. Kim & Hwang, 2006) addressing self-esteem and locus of control found that 28% of the members of experimental groups increased their self-esteem whereas 23% of the members of control groups increased their self-esteem. The authors concluded that reality therapy group programs "are effective for improving self-esteem and internal locus of control" (p. 29).

K.-H. Kim (2002) developed a responsible behavior choice program and tested it with 13 Korean elementary school children. Using a pretest-posttest design, she measured the effectiveness of eight sessions of group counseling in reality therapy. Compared with the control group, the experimental group showed a significant change in both locus of control and sense of personal responsibility. Their research supported the effectiveness of short-term reality therapy. Adding further support to the use of brief reality therapy, Lawrence (2004) used reality therapy as a group counseling modality for persons with developmental disabilities. In six sessions, participants in the reality therapy experimental group showed significant changes in self-determination compared with the control group; their self-regulation, autonomy, psychological empowerment, and self-realization scores showed the impact of the short-term use of reality therapy.

This brief selection of research studies illustrates the value of reality therapy as a reliable tool for counselors. However, many areas for possible study remain. Researchers could investigate further the effects of reality therapy on the areas already mentioned as well as on other issues dealt with by counselors.

 
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