Albert Ellis, one of the co-founders of cognitive therapy, died yesterday at his home in New York. The Boston Herald has an obituary that captures some of his work and eccentric spirit.
Ellis created ‘rational emotive behavior therapy’ (REBT) that stressed a rational approach to dealing with distressing cognitive distortions – a significant break from the largely Freudian therapy he was trained in.
It was an early version of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), now one of the most extensively tested, empirically validated and widely used psychological treatments for mental disorder.
Ellis was a prolific writer, producing a small library of books, papers and articles, did weekly seminars for most of his life and founded the Albert Ellis Institute.
Apart from his extensive writing he was known for his boundless energy and his approach to therapy and teaching which was variously described as no nonsense / assertive / confrontational (take your pick).
He was voted sixth in Psychotherapy Networker’s list of ‘top ten’ influential therapists of all time earlier this year.