The American psychiatrist William Glasser introduced to the world of psychiatry the concepts of reality therapy and choice therapy. However, his ideas and thoughts about personal choice, personal transformation and personal responsibility are considered controversial by many mainstream psychiatrists who prefer prescribing psychotropic medications in order to treat mental disorders. William Glasser worked not only to treat individuals but also applied his theories to wide array of social issues including, marriage, education, management etc. Although being a psychiatrist himself, Glasser openly warned the general public to beware of traditional psychiatry because of its goal to diagnose people with mental illnesses and prescribe drugs when in reality the patient may only be behaving in a certain way out of unhappiness and not a mental disorder. Glasser suggested that mental health should also be considered a concern as a public health issue.
William Glasser was born on May 11, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio. He went to Case Western Reserve University where he earned BA and MA degrees. Continuing his education, Glasser attended UCLA in California earning his MD. He began his professional career by working as a psychiatrist for the VA. During this time, Glasser met his mentor, Dr. G.L. Harrington. Glasser focused on and spent much of his time on the development of his own theories, specifically the Choice Theory. He studied the relationship between control and psychology as well as the effects of control which he observed during his own private practice with clients over decades. He investigated and analyzed how choices made by individuals affected other people and how every person has the power to make his/her own decisions and choices independently.
His contributions to the world of psychiatry include many influential books he co-authored. Many of these books focus on mental health, counseling, and the improvement of school teaching. Some other publications by Glasser advocate a public health approach to mental health versus a medical model. By the 1970’s William Glasser had compiled and named his body of work, Control Theory. By 1996, the theoretical structure evolved into a comprehensive body of work renamed Choice Theory.
William Glasser opened the Institute for Reality Therapy in 1967. The institute was renamed after its founder, Glasser three decades later. The institute still operates with many branches worldwide offering education and training and also latest advancements in Glasser’s theories and therapies. Today, the Glasser institute is is organized with regional groups in New England, the Sunbelt, and the West Coast in the United States. In July, 2010, the William Glasser Association International was set up which consists of an interim governing body responsible for setting up and coordinating activities and conferences worldwide. Outside the USA, the Glasser Institute has active independent national organizations in Canada, the UK, throughout Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand.
Today, William Glasser’s Reality Therapy has become a globally recognized, accepted and effective technique for improving relationships and satisfying needs in relationships.