Reality In Therapy: Who Gets to Decide What’s Real?

Reality in therapy. Reality as a concept comes up regularly in some people’s therapy—especially if either therapist or client has some doubts about the other’s sense of it.

There’s actually a whole form of therapy called reality therapy that places a lot of emphasis on choices being made in the here and now. You can see how some people could be turned off by that, though—maybe their present reality is what they’re trying to get away from.

But what exactly is reality and who really gets to decide? Philosophers have had a field day with this topic for ages, weighing in on such deeply complicated and competing ideas as anti-realism versus realism. I’m guessing it hasn’t all been figured out yet.

Many non-philosophers believe they’ve figured it out, though. They say that reality exists all over TV these days—on reality TV to be specific. These same believers, however, have probably never heard of editing—and how it in fact makes for a very strong dose not of reality, but of anti-reality.

Lily Tomlin is someone who’s been on TV for a long time. Maybe it’s her answer to the reality question that makes the most sense:

Reality is a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.

But wait. Tomlin as “Trudy the Bag Lady” in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, a play written by Jane Wagner, is probably wiser than any of us:

I refuse to be intimidated by reality anymore. After all, what is reality anyway? Nothin’ but a collective hunch. I made some studies: Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.

So who needs that?

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