Albert Ellis, American psychologist, Died at 93

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Dead, Albert Ellis on July 24, 2007, at the age of 93, he was an American psychologist who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).

Born to a Jewish family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, on September 27, 1913, he was the eldest of three children.

Ellis’ father was a businessman, often away from home on business trips, who reportedly showed only a modicum of affection to his children.

Ellis entered the field of clinical psychology after first earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from what was then known as the City College of New York Downtown in 1934.

He began a brief career in business, followed by one as a writer.

These endeavours took place during the Great Depression that began in 1929, and Ellis found that business was poor and had no success in publishing his fiction.

In 1942, Ellis began his studies for a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, which trained psychologists mostly in psychoanalysis.

He completed his Master of Arts in clinical psychology from Teachers College in June 1943, and started a part-time private practice while still working on his PhD degree – possibly because there was no licensing of psychologists in New York at that time.

Ellis began publishing articles even before receiving his Ph.D.; in 1946 he wrote a critique of many widely used pencil-and-paper personality tests.

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.

In 1960, Ellis presented a paper on his new approach at the American Psychological Association (APA) convention in Chicago.

There was mild interest, but few recognized that the paradigm set forth would become the zeitgeist within a generation.

At that time, the prevailing interest in experimental psychology was behaviorism, while in clinical psychology it was the psychoanalytic schools of notables such as Freud, Jung, Adler, and Perls.

Despite the fact that Ellis’ approach emphasized cognitive, emotive, and behavioural methods, his strong cognitive emphasis provoked the psychotherapeutic establishment with the possible exception of the followers of Adler.

Consequently, he was often received with significant hostility at professional conferences and in print.

He regularly held seminars where he would bring a participant up on stage and treat them.

Ellis acted in several capacities throughout his life.

He was a member of several prestigious psychological institutions and contributed to dozens of scientific journals.

He won accolades and awards from multiple organizations for his impact on the field of psychology, and even received personal phone calls from several world leaders on his 90th birthday.

Even in his 70s and 80s, he continued to practice and work tirelessly, giving workshops and conducting speaking engagements. He collaborated with his wife on several publications to further the field of REBT.

He continued to write articles and publish his own books up until the time of his death.

He was also a popular social commentator who debated several philosophers, psychologists, and politicians.

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