The Comparison of Reality Therapy and Existential Theory in Addiction Counseling: The Case of Jack

Decent Essays
The Comparison of Reality Therapy and Existential Theory in Addiction Counseling:
The Case of Jack

Walden University

The case of Jack illustrates a number of dilemmas faced by addiction counselors; namely, his resistance to treatment and external locus of control. Jack not only denies his need for counseling, but also denies that his alcohol use is any fault of his own. Thus, this paper will serve to analyze and evaluate two therapeutic approaches that emphasize personal responsibility and internal locus of control. First, reality therapy may prove effective with Jack because it frames problems as goals, and also does not believe in the power of outside forces and the past (Miller,
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A weakness, at least in the case of Jack, may be reality theory’s lack of interest in past events and outside forces. Similarly, these characteristics can also be strengths of the theory; however, Jack has experienced significant trauma (the loss of his legs in the war and his recent medical news) that may hinder his ability to recognize the role of his individual behaviors in his addiction. These weaknesses do not discount the possible success of reality therapy with Jack, but may make success more gradual. The significant trauma and suffering that Jack has experienced may also be addressed through an existential approach. Existential theory acknowledges that life is challenging, unfair, and (according to most theorists) devoid of intrinsic meaning (Frankl, 1985). This tenet validates Jack’s overt anger towards his wife and the loss of his legs. However, existential theory also posits that, though life can be challenging, individuals are autonomous in their decision to suffer. So, Jack’s unhappiness (and resultant addiction) is not the direct result of past traumatic events, but of his negative perspective and subsequent behaviors. This tenant can both empower and discourage clients; on one hand, the client is able to escape their self-imposed entrapment stemming from life’s struggles, on the other hand, the client
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