History of Therapy: Albert Ellis

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.




Grief Therapy


Grief Therapy

Grief therapy is designed for individuals who need help dealing with the death of a loved one or with major life changes that cause grief. Grief is a response to loss and it can involve many different facets. People who are grieving often shut down and are unable to function. This is where grief therapy can help.

When someone experiences loss, they usually go through different phases as they try to cope with it. The first stage is usually denial. When someone learns of a loss, they will not initially be able to cope with the fact that someone they love is gone. This is often a temporary defense, but some people can become locked in this phase. Grief therapy can help someone accept reality.

The second phase of grief is anger. People who are grieving wonder why this happened to them. They may feel like it is unfair or try to blame someone for their loss. When someone who has experienced loss moves from denial to anger, they have misplaced rage that they may direct inwardly, towards others (loved ones or complete strangers), or towards the person who is gone. They may resent the person they have lost, feel guilty about the resentment, and become even angrier. In grief therapy, counselors recognize that this is a normal part of loss, and are able to remain nonjudgmental in a session with someone in this stage.

The third stage of grieving is known as “bargaining.” Often at this stage, a person who has experienced loss feels helpless and vulnerable and needs to try to regain control. They will often make “deals” with God or a higher power, asking for a loved one back if they mend their ways or in exchange for their material possessions. If a loved one is terminally ill, family members will often make promises to God or a higher power in exchange for postponing or delaying death.

When people experiencing loss realize that bargaining is futile, they will often enter into a state of depression. This is the stage at which people usually seek out grief therapy. This is a normal stage of grief and most experts agree that is important a grieving person fully experience it. It is not recommended that you try to talk someone out of their sadness at this stage or try to cheer them up.

The final stage of grief is acceptance. Acceptance is different from resignation; it is a period of withdrawal and calm. People who have experienced a loss begin to come to terms with it. This is not a period of happiness, but of peace. Some people never reach this stage. They become locked in anger or depression and can’t move on. The goal of grief therapy is to bring someone to this phase.

In the end, grieving is an individual experience. No two people experience grief in exactly the same way or on the same time table. The important part is to allow yourself to grieve, and not try to suppress your feelings, because it will only prolong the process. Sometimes, a grief therapist is the best person to talk to when you are grieving because they understand the course of grieving and can help you heal.