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Contributions of Dr. William Glasser

  • William Glasser was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, in 1925; the third and youngest child in a close-knit family.
  • He played the band and had a strong interest in sports. 
  • He finished work for a master’s degree in 1948, but his doctoral dissertation was rejected. He then entered medical school at Western Reserve University, graduating with a medical degree in 1953. 
  • After obtaining a medical degree, he finished his psychiatric residency from UCLA, USA, in 1957, where he was trained in psychoanalysis. 
  • During his psychiatric training, he became more and more dissatisfied with the psychoanalytic approach. What disturbed him was the insistence of psychoanalysis on viewing the patient as a victim of forces beyond his or her control. In other words, the person was not considered responsible for his or her current behaviour. 
  • In the 1960s he began to formalize his approach to psychotherapy, as a reaction to the dominant psychotherapeutic approaches of the time, which were closely based on Freudian psychoanalysis. He stated that ”conventional psychiatry wastes too much arguing over how many diagnoses can dance at the end of a case history.”
  • Initially Glasser was hesitant to state his dissatisfaction with the conventional approach to treatment, psychoanalysis; however, his faculty supervisor, G. L. Harrington, was supportive. This started a long relationship in which Harrington helped Glasser formulate many of the ideas that became reality therapy.  
  • Glasser’s first book, Mental Health or Mental Illness? (1961), continued many of the ideas that were later more formally expressed in Reality Therapy: A New Approach to Psychiatry (1965). Since then, he wrote extensively, including Schools Without Failure (1968), The Identity Society (1972), Positive Addiction (1976), Stations of the Mind: New Directions for Reality Therapy (1981), Control Theory: A New Exploration of How We Control Our Lives (1985), and The Quality School (1990). More recent works include  
  • Shortly after the publication of Reality Therapy, Glasser founded the institute of Reality Therapy in Canoga Park, California. 
  • Glasser Canada (https://www.glassercanada.ca) and the Institute for Choice Theory in the States (https://wglasser.com) offer programs designed to teach the concepts and practice of reality therapy.  
  • The Journal of Reality Therapy publishes articles concerning the research, theory, and application of reality therapy.
  • Reality therapy has seen remarkable success since its conception, and many consider it one of the important approaches to psychotherapy.  

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