Dr. William Glasser Eulogy
On August 23, 2013 Dr. William Glasser died peacefully in his home surrounded by his wife Carleen and his son Martin. He had been in a state of declining health for several years and had been retired for four years.
He will always be remembered for founding reality therapy. His groundbreaking book Reality Therapy, published in 1965, created a stir among professional people. This book was the result of his experience and research in a mental hospital and a correctional institution. He described how he believed people chose their behavior and could therefore alter it. Even though he was a psychiatrist the psychiatry profession did not readily accept his work. But counselors, psychologists, social workers and educators welcomed it enthusiastically and began implementing it in schools, clinics and correctional institutions. As time passed Dr. Glasser developed an educational reform program now known as “The Glasser Quality School”.
For 50 years Dr. Glasser traveled throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia lecturing to large groups of professional people and others who wished to assist their clients more effectively or who wished to improve their own lives. As time went by he added a theoretical basis to the practical delivery system. He called the theory “choice theory” and described it as the train track for the train, reality therapy. Choice theory provides the validation for the application of his ideas to education, parenting, corrections, addictions and all human relationships.
In 1974 he developed a certification process in reality therapy. Since that time, thousands of people have taken training programs and been certified in reality therapy through the William Glasser Institute. At the present time this program exists in over 20 countries and on six continents.
In his many books, lectures and conversations he always stressed the importance of human relationships as central to effective mental health. As a visionary he wanted to teach his system to the world. As a practical service provider he always demonstrated his method in his teaching by asking members of the audience to present him with difficult situations. He frequently said, “Give me your toughest clients” and immediately related to them with empathy, firmness and most of all with his eye-twinkling humor.
Reality therapy and its theoretical basis choice theory are now represented in most counseling textbooks and are taught in counseling and psychotherapy courses. His system has gained respect and prestige as a scientifically proven methodology applied to persons from cultures around the world.
He was a frequent presenter at American Counseling Association conferences delivering keynote addresses. He especially enjoyed talking to students and practitioners in the exhibit hall while spending hours each day answering questions and autographing books. In 2004 he was pleased to receive the Legend in Counseling Award for his development of reality therapy presented by the American Counseling Association.
Beginning in 1989 he served as a member of the distinguished faculty at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference sponsored by the Milton Erickson Foundation and which assembled “the pioneers in the psychological profession.” He took pride in his provocative approach to the world of human relationships even to the point of stating that most long-term psychological problems are in fact relationship problems.
His most recent professional recognition came to him on May 11, 2013, when the State Senate of California recognized him for a lifetime of achievement. They stated the following:
“WHEREAS, Intelligent and articulate, aware and involved, Dr. William Glasser is a fine example of a public-spirited citizen willing to assume the responsibilities of leadership, and through his remarkable personal and professional achievements, he has become a legendary figure who is admired by people throughout the State of California and beyond; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED BY SENATORS CAROL LIU AND LONI HANCOCK, That they recognize and thank Dr. William Glasser for a lifetime of achievements and meritorious service to humanity, and convey sincere best wishes that his indomitable efforts will continue in the years ahead.”
On a more intimate level still in the minds of some members of the William Glasser Institute and of major significance to all members of the William Glasser International was the message from Bea Dolan to Bill at the 1990 International Conference, the silver anniversary of the publication of Reality Therapy. She had been the superintendent of the Ventura School and sent the following touching tribute to Dr. Glasser emphasizing human relationships:
“We at the Ventura School started every treatment program the
department had: citizens’ advisory groups, ward advisory committees, small and large group counseling, off-campus services, etc. And what did we get – each other! A reward beyond compare.”
Quite recently, a woman approached him at his home and begged him for advice for how to deal with her 3 year-old son. He paused for a long time and then reached deep down inside his soul and gave her 2 suggestions: “Always treat him as if he is good.” And “Set up circumstances where he can only succeed.” These wise words could serve as his suggestions for all counselors. They represent for us a worldview, an attitude toward clients and his perception of all human beings. These two sentiments transcend a particular counseling system in that they summarize his legacy.
We, his followers and members of his organization, still consider him friend, family, mentor, colleague, visionary and exemplary human being. Rest in peace, good friend. You will always be with us and we, your entire institute, pledge to continue your work and to teach your life changing ideas.