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Build a foundation for lasting recovery from addiction

Reality Therapy Techniques

photo of a womans hands while shes sitting down talking about reality therapy techniques

When treating someone with a substance use disorder, it is important to treat the mind and not just the body. Addiction creates not just a physical dependence but a psychological one as well. Because of this, effective treatment programs include a wide variety of therapies to achieve long-term sobriety. One such type of treatment is a reality therapy program, which seeks to empower the patient to be more in control of his decisions.

At Evoke Waltham, we offer a wide range of therapies to give each patient the best chance at a successful recovery and lifelong abstinence. Our state-of-the-art facility provides a welcoming, judgment-free environment where patients can heal with the support and guidance of our experienced and friendly staff. Contact us at 866.276.1920 today to learn more about reality therapy techniques if you are looking for the right therapeutic approach to addiction recovery.

How Does Reality Therapy Work?

Reality therapy is based on the premise that negative behaviors result from a patient’s unmet needs. Through treatment, the patient will have help with identifying these needs and setting goals to address them. The five basic needs, as detailed in reality therapy, are:

  • Survival – Not only does this cover the basic physical needs of food and shelter, but it also includes basic psychological needs, such as feeling safe and secure.
  • Love and belonging – This covers relationships in general, be it with friends, family, peers, mentors, or even pets.
  • Power, self-worth, and accomplishment – This relies on the concept that people want to leave behind some sort of enduring legacy.
  • Freedom – This is the need for people to feel like they have control of or autonomy in their creative and daily lives.
  • Satisfaction and enjoyment – This need says that people need to experience positive things like physical pleasure, humor, relaxation, and learning.

In reality therapy, patients are guided toward realizing the reality of their world, and then they are taught how to make responsible decisions that will lead them toward meeting their basic needs. To achieve this, the treatment will focus on the following core components.


The therapist will help the patient recognize any ineffective past behaviors that were created to satisfy their needs. They will then work towards changing these behaviors into more effective or constructive ones.


In therapy, the patient will be made to realize that their behaviors and choices are within their control.


Working from the previous component, it also follows that the patient is responsible for their actions, encouraging accountability.


Creating productive habits that can, in turn, positively change the patient’s behavior.

The Present Moment

By focusing on the present and working toward the future, the patient is not held back by their past.

Right and Wrong

Patients are encouraged to correct themselves when they have done something wrong and to reward themselves for behaving in the right way.

Overall, reality therapy is a highly effective treatment approach for patients struggling with negative behaviors and unmet needs. It helps patients take control of their lives by focusing on their present moment, recognizing the reality of their circumstances, and taking action to address these issues.

What Are Some Common Reality Therapy Techniques?

Reality therapy addresses psychological problems, like substance use, by acknowledging them as inappropriate behaviors stemming from unmet needs. By teaching the patient to replace these behaviors with healthier, more effective alternatives, recovery can be achievable. Here are some common techniques that a therapist might include in a reality therapy program:

  • Self-evaluation – The patient receives questions to help them become aware of their own actions.
  • Goal-setting – With the therapist’s help, the patient creates clear, simple goals to meet their needs.
  • Reframing – In reframing, the therapist helps to shift the patient’s negative mindset into a more positive, solution-based outlook.
  • Behavioral rehearsal – The patient role-plays the appropriate social actions and reactions in preparation for real-life situations.

These techniques can effectively address various psychological issues when used in conjunction with other proven treatment methods. For example, they could be combined with group therapy, individual counseling, or even medication management.

Get a Reality Therapy Program in Massachusetts at Evoke Waltham

The best way to achieve long-term recovery from addiction is through the right therapeutic approach. At Evoke Waltham, we provide our patients with the right support and guidance they need for every step of their recovery. If you are looking for a reality therapy program for yourself or your loved one, contact us at 866.276.1920 to learn more about reality therapy techniques and what we can offer to you.