William Glasser and Brad Smith

William Glasser and Brad Smith, 2008

An amazing event took place recently within the walls of the California Institution for Women in Chino, California. Amazing because a graduation was held for the women within the prison who had completed the Choice Theory Connection Program. Due to the efforts of staff (especially Brad Smith) and students at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and the efforts of staff (especially Les Johnson) within the prison, inmates were taught choice theory and the ways in which people can manage their thinking and behavior. The graduation became even more special when, as part of the ceremony, Dr. Glasser was recognized by the California Senate for his contributions to the fields of psychology, social services, and education, and to the people of the state of California. He began his career in 1956 as the psychiatrist for the Ventura School for Girls, basically a prison for young women, so it is fitting that at the close of his career he was once again working with women within the prison system.

William Glasser, shortly after graduating from medical school, about to begin his psychiatric residency.

William Glasser, shortly after graduating from medical school, about to begin his psychiatric residency.

In 2010, I had the privilege of visiting the California Institution for Women in Chino and saw and heard firsthand the results of the Choice Theory Connection Program. It was a profound experience for me as I listened to women, some who had received life sentences for murder, describe how, even though they were in prison, they felt free for the first time in their lives. Several of them mentioned how different their lives would have been had they learned choice theory sooner.

These women declared how needed choice theory was in schools, especially inner city schools. They encouraged us to share the concepts of choice theory with students of all ages. I know that as teachers and principals we want to do just that. The women wanted to prevent young people from ending up behind bars and schools can be a large part of that prevention.

I am glad Bill is being recognized for his contributions. Being his biographer, I would have worded the commendation a bit differently, but the important thing is that people in leadership took a moment and reflected on what he has done for people and organizations across the state and beyond.


By the Honorable Carol Liu, 25th Senatorial District; and the Honorable Loni Hancock, 9th Senatorial District; Relative to Commending:

William Glasser M.D.

WHEREAS, Dr. William Glasser, a distinguished Los Angeles resident and highly esteemed member of the medical profession, has brought great credit and distinction to himself through his professional and public achievements, and in recognition thereof, it is appropriate to highlight his many accomplishments and extend to him the special honors and highest commendations of the people of California; and

WHEREAS, a world-renowned psychiatrist who employs a nontraditional approach, Dr. William Glasser has been recognized since 1989 as a member of the distinguished faculty of pioneers in the psychological professions by the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference of the Milton Erickson Foundation; and

William Glasser, presenting at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, 2005

William Glasser, presenting at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, 2005

WHEREAS, in his early years as a psychiatrist, Dr. Glasser obtained experience at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles, and in 1967, he founded The Institute for Reality Therapy, which was renamed The Institute for Control Theory, Reality Therapy and Quality Management in1994, and The William Glasser Institute in1996; today, the institute, which is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, has branches throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, the recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dr. Glasser was presented the American Counseling Association’s 2004 Legend in Counseling Award for his development of reality therapy and, in 2005, was awarded the prestigious Master Therapist designation by the American Psychotherapy Association, and over the course of his stellar career, he has shared his expertise as the author and co-author of numerous chapters and books, including Take Charge of Your Life, Choice Theory, and Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage; and

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.

Member Resolution No.643- May 11, 2013


In some ways, Glasser’s legacy is secure. He developed Reality Therapy and Choice Theory, and along the way helped many, many people to function better in their lives. He especially helped teachers and students to understand the process of learning and thriving within a classroom. His books, 24 of them, and the many articles that he authored would seem to further establish the legacy. A book on a shelf, though, is not the legacy Glasser worked for throughout his career.  The legacy he sought was improved lives, better thinking and behavior, better mental health. Each of us can have a part to play in that legacy, beginning with ourselves, and then extending to those with live with at home or work with at school or a host of other businesses. That is the legacy Glasser would be most happy about.


TEACHERS – Will you be teaching your students about choice theory this coming school year? Could you take a moment and send me a brief description of how you go about it? A lesson plan would be awesome, but even a short paragraph would be wonderful, too.