Posts tagged “schools without failure

Unpublished Glasser Article

Bill Glasser 1977 (contributed by Jim Roy)

Bill Glasser 1977 (contributed by Jim Roy)

Going through some of my Glasser artifacts recently I came across a short article he wrote over 30 years ago. Based on the author bio info at the end of the article I would say it was written in 1980. The article was typed, maybe by Glasser himself, but probably it was dictated by him and then typed by someone else. By 1980 Glasser had met William Powers and had been introduced to the ideas of control theory, ideas that deeply influenced him.

Bill Glasser 1981

Bill Glasser 1981

I don’t think the article – titled Some Thoughts About Raising Children – was ever published. I am sharing it with you, exactly as it is written, for several reasons.

1. It is enjoyable to read Glasser’s ideas, especially a potential article that may have slipped through the cracks and gotten overlooked.

2. Do you detect a reason why the article may have been filed away or even rejected? You will be reading the exact draft that I have. Would editing help make the article stronger?

3. Do you think Glasser would have written this article 20 or 25 years later? Did he end up modifying any of the ideas expressed in the article in 1980 later in his career?

Ok, those are the thought questions to get you started; here’s the article.

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SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT RAISING CHILDREN

William Glasser, M.D.
President, Institute for Reality Therapy

     What do we owe our children and what do they owe us? Book after book, from the Bible to Spock, has attempted to answer these questions and the parade continues because no book seems to satisfy any parent for long. We wish there were a child-rearing manual like that which comes with a Mercedes but we are not machines. We are living creatures driven, as no other creature is, by strong, often conflicting forces. Because we must discover an infinite variety of ways to satisfy these forces the definitive how-to book will never be written. It follows, therefore, that we will never know how to raise our children. If we can accept the uncomfortable premise that here there are no right answers then I believe we have the chance to succeed reasonably well in this difficult task. And even if our success is minimal we will do them less harm than if we tried to follow any current “truth.”

Regardless of what we do, and granted that there is no universal way, most of us want our children to be happy, to love and respect us, and to be successful in some way that we define success. Because we tend to love them extravagantly most of their lives most of us will have no trouble accepting that we owe them food, shelter, safety and our companionship. But, as hard as this may be to accept, they, I believe, owe us nothing; if we want their love we must earn it. This is not hard to do as long as we do not attempt to cajole, coerce, or force them to be the people that satisfy us.

What we should be sensitive to from early on is what they want. Then as much as we can, rather than to give them things we should make an effort to take the additional time to teach them how to satisfy their needs themselves. If, however, what they want is in conflict with what we believe, as it often will be, as they mature, we should, in words they can understand, state our beliefs. But along with telling them what is important to us we should encourage them to try to convince us that their needs are worthy of our support. This means that we should listen to them and if they are at all convincing help them to get what they want. If we are unconvinced we should continue our argument but also make an effort (and it will be an effort) not to criticize them or to use our parental power to stand directly or indirectly in their way.

Assure them from the time that they can comprehend it that we believe in the way we live our lives, but that our way is not necessarily the best way, the only way or the way for them. And as our way changes, as it will, show them that we can be tolerant of ourselves as we change. From this they will learn that they too have a way but that it is not the only way and that they should be tolerant of themselves as they change.

Assuming that we can do this, especially to refrain from criticizing them, we have a chance, even a good chance (there are no sure things in this delicate process) to enjoy the reward which is a child who loves us, respects us, and enjoys spending time with us. But if we achieve this reward we should be cautious and resist the temptation to gain more, that is to convince these “good” children that they also be what we want them to be. It is our failure to resist this ever-present temptation that causes most of us who succeed for quite a while eventually to fail. If we are getting along well and then they start to slip away it will be because it is so difficult in raising children to keep the ancient proverb, “let well enough alone.”

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William Glasser, M.D. is the President and Founder of the Institute for Reality Therapy, incorporated in 1967. His major books are Reality Therapy, Schools Without Failure, The Identity Society, and Positive Addiction. All are published by Harper & Row and Reality Therapy and The Identity Society are available in German translations. Two new books have been written. Available now is What Are You Doing?, a series of cases written by Reality Therapists and edited by Naomi Glasser. To be available in March of 1981 is Stations of the Mind, a new book linking how our brain functions to Reality Therapy. Both are published by Harper & Row.

Dr. Glasser has worked in schools, correctional institutions, mental hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. He teaches and lectures all over the world and still conducts a small private practice. People interested in further information about Reality Therapy and training programs can write to:

Institute for Reality Therapy
11633 San Vincente Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90049

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Don’t write to the above address. There are no Glasser offices on San Vincente anymore, although some of you reading this will remember that place fondly.

If you are so inclined let me know how you respond to the thought questions before the article. Would Glasser have written this article 20 years later?

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William Glasser: A Life to Celebrate

Bill and Carleen Glasser (2007)

Bill and Carleen Glasser (2007)

William Glasser passed away on August 23, 2013. He was 88 years.

As an every-man psychiatrist, Glasser was appreciated by people around the world for his views on mental health and his strategies for counselors and especially educators. A progressive before it was in fashion to be progressive, he rejected commonly held beliefs that blamed mental disease for people’s behavior and instead described methods whereby people could recognize their own role in returning to wellness.

Glasser’s ideas on mental health began to form in the late 1950s when he worked with veterans in a mental hospital in Los Angeles and with delinquent teenage girls in a prison school. He burst onto a national stage, though, when he published Reality Therapy in 1965, and then Schools Without Failure in 1969. Reality Therapy was like a psychiatric shot heard around the world and he began to receive a lot of attention, especially from those working within the helping professions — counselors, social workers, corrections officers, addiction clinics, and especially teachers.

Reality therapy went on to become one of the main talking therapy options that future therapists learned about in degree programs and established Glasser as one of the most well-known psychiatrists in the world. He believed that the concept that people suffer from a mental illness was actually a road block to effective treatment, rather than being a help. Glasser wanted to compassionately help people become stronger and more responsible. To that end, reality therapy emphasized the need for a warm, caring relationship between therapist and patient; was built on the belief that people are capable of becoming responsible for their behavior; focused on the present and future, rather than the past; focused on present, conscious thinking and behavior, rather than trying to discover “unconscious” thought patterns; and desired to teach patients ways to fulfill their own needs within an effective (personal) moral framework. It was a groundbreaking approach that ultimately led to many others also building on the site that he began.

School principals and teachers recognized something special in reality therapy that could make a positive difference in the lives of students and when Glasser received a large grant to improve public education in 1967 the Educator Training Center was established and he embarked on a lifelong quest to show educators the importance of providing a need-satisfying environment for students. Of his 23 books, five of them were exclusively school related.

Glasser came to be known for control theory, the theory that he felt explained why reality therapy was so effective. Control theory described how people are internally motivated and are always acting in a way that they think will best meet their needs, which may even include choosing to be miserable. He became known for his emphasis on the idea that the only person we can control is ourself. Mental health, or happiness, is maintained as a person learns to stop trying to control others behavior and instead learns how to form and keep good relationships with the important people in his life. Glasser liked the details of control theory, but not the label, and in 1996 he changed the label to choice theory, which he felt more accurately described the essence of his beliefs.

Glasser was a prolific writer and lecturer and leaves behind a body of work–23 books, multiple booklets, and many, many journal articles– that will provide support and challenge traditional approaches for years to come. Besides eight active regional organizations throughout the U.S., the Glasser Institute also has a presence in more than 20 countries on six continents. Australia is one of the countries that has especially embraced Glasser’s ideas.

Glasser became a board-certified psychiatrist in 1961, and while he was well known in the popular press, he was not embraced by his own field. Writing books like Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health (2003) may have something to do with that. Being progressive has a price. Yet, even though he was somewhat ignored within psychiatry, toward the end of his career he received a great deal of official appreciation. In 2003 Glasser received the Professional Development Award from the American Counseling Association for his significant contributions to the field of counseling. The following year the ACA conferred to him the Legend in Counseling Award for his development of reality therapy. In 2005, along with being one of the faculty for the esteemed Evolution of Psychotherapy conference, he was presented the prestigious Master Therapist designation by the American Psychotherapy Association. He received two honorary doctorates–one from the University of San Francisco in 1990 and the other from Pacific Union College in 2006.  And in May, 2013, Glasser was officially recognized by the California state senate for a lifetime of achievements and his meritorious service to humanity.

Glasser was preceded in death by his first wife, Naomi, and his son, Joe. He is survived by his wife, soul mate, and co-author, Carleen; and his daughter, Alice, and son, Martin; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; as well as his brother, Henry, and sister, Janet. He is survived, too, by the many who heard him talk and read his books and articles and who, in some small way, felt like they were his soul mate as well. To his loved ones and close friends, and to every one of his “survivors” — Here’s to a life of choice!

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What could be added to this tribute to make it even better? What did I leave out?

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Thank you to those of you who responded to the initial announcement of Bill’s passing away. Some very heartfelt and eloquent thoughts were expressed in those comments.

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If you haven’t, I hope you’ll take a moment and sign up to follow The Better Plan blog. It’s also easy to register for WordPress, which then allows you to click on the LIKE button of blogs you appreciate. I think this would be especially good for the blogs about Glasser’s passing away. WordPress is the biggest of all blog sites and a blog like this one being LIKED by a large number of people would alert  a huge blogging community to the life and work of William Glasser.

Happy Birthday, Bill!

On Saturday, May 11, William Glasser turns 88 years of age. Since 1960, when his first book, Mental Health or Mental Illness?, was published, and even before when he began to give presentations to youth authority staff around the state of California, Glasser has been a distinctive, ground-breaking voice in the fields of mental health and education. Books like Reality Therapy (1965), Schools Without Failure (1969), Control Theory (1985), The Quality School (1990), and Choice Theory (1998) appealed to millions of readers and offered clear, reasonable approaches for those working with the mentally distressed, for counselors and therapists, for social workers, and for educators. Some of his best work turned out to be for schools. Millions of students have benefitted from his non-coercive management approach, an approach that improved the lives of teachers as well.

One of my favorite pictures of Bill, taken while we watched the Superbowl together.

One of my favorite pictures of Bill, taken while we watched the Superbowl together.

I became friends with Glasser in 2000, which led to our working closely together, beginning in 2003, on what would become his biography. I read most everything he wrote, all of his 23 books and many of his journal articles, and interviewed family members, friends, and colleagues about his career, however it was the almost 60 interviews that he and I did together that formed the backbone for the book. The timing of our work turned out to be important, as he was still strong and sharp as we looked back into his long and impressive career. To pick his brain on important topics in such a personal setting is a privilege I shall always treasure. The book (I think there is a good possibility it will be called William Glasser: Champion of Choice) should be available in a few months.

Taken of me and Glasser as I present him with a copy of my dissertation, which was a biographical study on the development of his ideas.

Taken of me and Glasser as I present him with a copy of my dissertation, which was a biographical study on the development of his ideas.

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Something significant occurred within the psychiatric community over the last couple of weeks and it reminded me, in a roundabout way, of Glasser’s basic message. The “something significant” was that the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Dr. Thomas Insel, has come out against the long-awaited DSM-V. Rejecting the most recent version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), referred to as the bible of psychiatry, seems to admit what Glasser said for so many years, that it described symptoms, but didn’t define mental illness. People may act differently and even strangely, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their brain is diseased. Psychiatry and the psychiatric drug industry is desperate to discover the biological connection between behavior and disease in the brain, but as yet no connection has been determined.

William Glasser and Thomas Szasz at the 2005 Evolution of Psychotherapy conference. Glasser and Szasz were not close during their careers, but they did agree that there was no such thing as mental illness.

William Glasser and Thomas Szasz at the 2005 Evolution of Psychotherapy conference. Glasser and Szasz were not close during their careers, but they did agree that there was no such thing as mental illness.

A recently published book about how the DSM is compiled, The Book of Woe: The Making of the DSM and the Unmasking of Psychiatry (2013), states simply that “Psychiatric diagnosis is built on fiction and sold to the public as fact.” Gary Greenberg, the author of the book and a psychotherapist himself, reminds readers of what people like Glasser have been saying for a long time, that while the public seems to believe that psychiatric diagnosis is based on scientific data and comprehensive research there is still “not one biological test for a DSM disorder.”

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My hope is that on this day, Glasser’s birthday, we will appreciate him for creating and refining such an empowering and hopeful explanation of how our brains work and why we behave the way we do. Rather than our being victims of a diseased brain, we can begin to take steps, however small, toward responsibility and happiness. For fifty years he has pointed the way to mental health, emphasizing the importance of the relationships with others in our lives and explaining the power and freedom of our choices. His ideas have meant a great deal to me personally and have added value to my life.

Thank you, Bill. May this day be special in every way!

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