History of Therapy: Albert Ellis
Albert Ellis, Ph.D., was born in Pittsburgh, PA on September 27, 1913 and was raised in New York City. He held an M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Albert Ellis held many important psychological positions that included: Chief psychologist of the State of New Jersey and professorships at Rutgers and other universities. More importantly, Albert Ellis was the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), the first of the now popular Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT).
In 1954, Ellis began teaching his new techniques to other therapists, and by 1957, he formally set forth the first cognitive behavior therapy by proposing that therapists help people adjust their thinking and behavior as the treatment for emotional and behavioral problems. Two years later, Ellis published ‘How to Live with a Neurotic’, which elaborated on his new method.
Albert Ellis established the Albert Ellis Institute in 1959. The Albert Ellis Institute is a non-profit organization whose mission was to promote Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy as a educative and preventative theory. The Albert Ellis Institute promoted Rational Behavioral Therapy’s practice and theory through training professionals and the public. Initially Albert Ellis ran everything from his own private practice as a psychologist. Then Albert Ellis purchased a six story townhouse in Manhattan in 1964. He took that town house that had previously been occupied by The Woodrow Wilson Institute and used it for his work. Albert Ellis donated the earnings of his books to purchase the building and to fund the running costs of the Institute.
Albert Ellis practiced psychotherapy, marriage and family counseling as well as sex therapy for over sixty years at the Psychological Center of the Institute in New York. Albert Ellis also served as president of the Division of Consulting Psychology of the American Psychological Association and of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He also served as officer of several profession societies including the American Association of Marital and Family Therapy, the American Academy of Psychotherapists, and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
Albert Ellis was ranked one of the most influential psychologists by both American and Canadian psychologists and counselors. He also served as consulting or associate editor of many scientific journals. He published more than eight hundred scientific papers and more than two hundred audio and video cassettes.
During his final years he collaborated with Michael S. Abrams, Ph.D., on his only college textbook Personality Theories: Critical Perspectives. Albert Ellis also wrote an autobiography entitled “All Out!” published by Prometheus Books in June 2010. The book was dedicated to and contributed by his wife Dr. Debbie Ellis who Ellis described as “The greatest love of my whole life, my whole life”. He also entrusted the legacy of REBT to her. In early 2011, the book Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy by Dr. Albert Ellis and his wife Dr. Debbie Ellis was released by the American Psychological Association. The book explains the essentials of the theory of REBT and is considered an excellent basic guide in understanding the REBT approach for students and practitioners of psychology as well as for the general public.