Posts tagged “Milton Erickson Foundation

The Rest of the Story: Part 2

Today’s blog continues where we left off in The Rest of the Story: Part 1. You’ll get more out of the story if you read Part 1 first.


I began the presentation, and had only been going a few minutes when I noticed someone in the corner of my eye enter the room. There were no seats left and he edged along the wall to my left and sat down on the floor. When I realized that the person sitting on the floor was Jeff Tirengel, I was almost overcome emotionally, and even physically. Jeff and I had met 10 years earlier, when we were both completing the Glasser certification week training. We became friends and stayed in touch from then on. Although he possesses a wonderful, dry wit, he has a way of always bringing the conversation to the important. And as we talked about the important things in life we became close. As he sat there on the floor, though, I knew the rest of the story, as the late Paul Harvey would say. I knew that he was in a battle for his life, that he was hanging in there through tough chemotherapy that, while trying to kill the bad cells, was draining him of the good, too. That he would somehow muster up the strength, which he had in such small supply, and come to my talk .  .  . I can barely write about it even now without choking up.

I briefly described each of the chapters, occasionally reading excerpts from the manuscript. I pulled back the curtain and talked about how the whole thing began and how Bill and worked together. Pictures of Bill on the screen behind me, from childhood to adulthood, added to the story. The hour and fifteen minutes for the breakout went by quickly and I began to wrap things up. I had prepared more material than the breakout time would allow, but had presented what I could. I fairly frequently give breakout talks and trainings, so I know the drill, but I was not prepared for what happened next. Instead of people saying thanks and then heading off to supper, they started asking me when they could hear the information from the rest of the chapters that I was not able to get to. I got my wits about me and stammered that I would be open to that. One person wondered aloud if we could continue early the next morning before breakfast. Other suggestions were tossed back and forth and it was finally decided to continue that evening after supper. Instead of the classroom we were in at that moment we agreed to meet in the general area, a large open space surrounded by vendor tables.

When the breakout was over I went over to Bill. He tried to speak, but he was too choked up to get the words out. “I don’t know what to say,” he finally got out. I tried to lighten the moment (I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, but it’s what I did.) and said, “I couldn’t have done it without you, Bill,” in an obvious attempt at understatement. “Thank you,” he said quietly as he held my hand tightly. I became overcome, too, the two of us in a moment that only the two of us could understand. Jeff joined us, our hug simultaneously conveying congratulations and appreciation. After I returned home Jeff emailed a picture he had taken with his cell phone during the breakout. It shows me talking to the group with Glasser in his wheelchair in the background. The resolution is not very good, yet it will always be one of my most treasured photographs. Jeff was not in the picture, but to me, he is as much in the picture as Bill and I.

Jeff Tirengel's picture of me presenting during the first breakout session with Glasser in the background.

Jeff Tirengel’s picture of me presenting during the first breakout session with Glasser in the background.

I was drained, in a good way, as I headed to supper. I don’t remember eating much. Instead I got ready for part two of the presentation. As it turned out, more than twice as many people came to the next session. In spite of the late hour, Bill came to the next session, too. There was so much interest in Glasser’s life, the circumstances surrounding his career, and the evolution of his ideas. He was quiet throughout the evening, but I could tell he was taking everything in, the appreciation that people at the session had for him, the admiration, and the affection.

After the conference was over and I was driving back home to northern California it began to sink in. I had met or re-connected with so many wonderful people, learned important ideas from other breakout presenters, poured everything I had into my own breakout sessions, and, as I visited with others, even came upon more anecdotes for the ending of the biography, yet none of these things represented the most significant piece of the conference for me. It began to sink in that the most important part of the conference for me, the best reason for my attending the conference, was Glasser hearing and seeing the interest that others had in his story and hearing their thanks and affirmation for his efforts. I had been concerned for months and even years that he might pass away before I could put a physical copy of the book in his hands. Now, after the breakout sessions that he attended, I felt that he had experienced what readers would feel as they read his story. Somehow it felt to me that a ribbon had been placed on the package, so to speak, during those breakout sessions. He knew the book was coming and got a taste of the interest others had in the book’s content. I didn’t have a publisher yet, but at least I knew that Glasser knew it was coming and knew that people were looking forward to it.

Driving on Hwy 5 from Los Angeles to northern California can provide a lot of time to think.

Driving on Hwy 5 from Los Angeles to northern California can provide a lot of time to think.

As I drove up Hwy 5, the main north and south roadway artery from the southern part of California through Oregon and Washington all the way to the Canadian border, I had such a deep feeling of contentment as I reflected on my Glasser conference experiences. It struck me just how close I had come to not attending at all. I would have missed so much had I not attended. A bit of pride could have kept me from wanting to do the breakout at all. Discomfort at the thought of having to share a room with someone tempted me to pull the plug on the whole idea of attending the conference.

The good feelings I had, especially the feelings I had about Glasser attending the breakout sessions, were enough to fuel my contentment for quite a while. (Here comes the Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” part.) But there’s more. In November, 2012, five months after the Glasser conference in June, I get a call from Carleen Glasser. I was just getting out of my car and about to head into Calistoga High School to observe a student teacher when her call came in. She said something about Barry Karlin and that I should call Jeff Zeig because he was interested in seeing the manuscript. For months I had been working on finding a publisher for the book, even exploring self-publishing options. Harper-Collins was a possibility, I thought, but they turned it down, even though they liked the manuscript a lot. It appeared there might be a possibility with Simon & Schuster, but that didn’t work out either. Queries to Beacon Press didn’t open any doors and I was really wondering what to do next. Then the phone rings and it is Carleen encouraging me to get in touch with Jeff Zeig. Zeig is the founder and CEO of the Milton Erickson Foundation, a highly respected organization in the field of counseling and psychotherapy. I did get in touch with Zeig and sure enough he was interested in seeing the manuscript.  He read it, along with others on their editorial board, and they decided they wanted their publishing company to print it. We have been working on the book together, especially with his editor, Suzi Tucker, ever since.

It turns out that Barry Karlin, who I met at the Glasser conference months before, contacted Jeff Zeig and let him know of the manuscript’s existence. Barry and I had good visits during the conference and I was impressed with how committed he was to the Glasser message. He attended my breakouts and was one of the voices that asked for the second breakout session later that evening. Barry and I departed the conference as friends. I sent him the manuscript and sought his comments on what he read. He really felt like the book needed to be published and on his own he contacted Jeff Zeig and the Milton Erickson Foundation. That contact ultimately led to the book being published within the next few months.

Once again, the details of the situation hit me. Had I not gone to the conference I wouldn’t have met Barry and he wouldn’t have become part of the manuscript and the publisher search. The Milton Erickson Foundation would probably never have come up on my radar screen. I knew that Jeff Zeig was the force behind the success of the Evolution of Psychotherapy conference, but I didn’t know that the Milton Erickson Foundation had a publishing house until Carleen and Barry told me about it. Barry taking the initiative made all the difference in the world.

So now you know how the biography came to be published. It’s a bit of a convoluted tale, but most good tales are. The moral of the story? Don’t let pride keep you from experiencing life. As far as this story is concerned, a little bit of pride would have scuttled everything.

Bill Glasser at the banquet, held on the last evening of the conference, June, 2012.

Bill Glasser at the banquet, held on the last evening of the conference, June, 2012.


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California Senate Commends William Glasser

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.

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