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Dr. William Glasser, M.D.

William Glasser, M.D. is an American psychiatrist born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925, and developer of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. He is notable for having developed a cause and effect theory that explains human behavior. His ideas which focus on personal choice, personal responsibility and personal transformation are considered controversial by mainstream psychiatrists who focus instead on classifying pyschiatric syndromes (374 at last count) and who often prescribe psychotropic medications to treat mental disorders. Dr. Glasser is also notable because he has used his theories to influence broader social issues such as education, management, marriage, and recently advocating mental health as a public health issue, to name a few. Last, but not least, he is notable because he warns the general public about his profession and the dangers therein.

William Glasser was educated at Case Western Reserve University (Ohio, U.S.), where he received a B.S in 1945 and a M.A. in clinical psychology in 1948. He received his M.D. in 1953 and completed a psychiatric residency] between 1954 and 1957 at UCLA and at the Veterans Administration Hospital of Los Angeles. He was board-certified in psychiatry in 1961. The University of San Francisco awarded Dr. Glasser an honorary degree in 1990. In 2003 he received the American Counseling Association's Professional Development Award; in 2004, the ACA's "A Legend in Counseling Award;" in 2005 the Master Therapist designation by the American Psychotherapy Association and the Life Achievement Award by the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology.

A practising psychiatrist, he has also authored and co-authored numerous books on mental health, counseling, and the improvement of schools, teaching, and several publications advocating a public health approach to mental health versus the prevailing "medical" model.

During his early years as a psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles, he met Dr. G. L. Harrington, an older psychiatrist who Glasser credits as his "mentor." Glasser founded The Institute for Reality Therapy in 1967, which was renamed The Institute for Control Theory, Reality Therapy and Quality Management in 1994 and later The William Glasser Institute in 1996. The institute is located in Chatsworth, California, and has branch institutes throughout the world.

By the 1970s Dr. Glasser called his body of work Control Theory. By 1996, the theoretical structure evolved into a comprehensive body of work renamed Choice Theory, mainly because of the confusion with perceptual control theory by William T. Powers, developed in the 1950s.


with co-author Carleen Glasser, M.Ed.

Chapters in books edited by others

  • Chapter 4: Reality Therapy: An Explanation of the Steps of Reality Therapy, in What Are You Doing?, 1980, edited by Naomi Glasser ISBN 0060116463
  • Several chapters (not numbered), in The Reality Therapy Reader 1976, edited by Thomas Bratter and Richard Rachin, ISBN 0060102381
    • p38 "Youth in Rebellion: Why?"
    • p50 "A Talk with William Glasser"
    • p58 "The Civilized Identity Society"
    • p68 "How to Face Failure and Find Success"
    • p92 "Notes on Reality Therapy"
    • p345 "Practical Psychology G.P.s Can Use"
    • p359 "A New Look At Discipline"
    • p382 "Roles, Goals and Failure"
    • p465 "What Children Need"
    • p490 "The Role of the Leader in Counseling" (co-authored with Norman Iverson)
    • p498 "Discipline as a Function of Large Group Meetings" (co-authored with Norman Iverson)
    • p510 "A Realistic Approach to the Young Offender"

See also

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