William Glasser was born on May 11, 1925 in Ohio. He attended Case Western Reserve University, from where he earned both his BA and his MA. He continued his education in California and received his MD from UCLA. Glasser worked as a psychiatrist for the VA in the beginning of his professional career. It was during this time that he met his mentor, Dr. G.L. Harrington. Glasser spent much of his lifetime focusing on the development of his theories, specifically his Choice Theory. He studied the effects of control and how it related to psychology and observed this dynamic in his own clients over decades of private practice. He examined how the choices each individual made affected the other, and focused on the fact that each had the power to made their own, unique, personal choices, independent of the other. In 1967, Glasser opened the Institute for Reality Therapy. Three decades later, the institute was renamed for its founder and continues to offer education, training, and advances in Glasser’s theories and therapies through its many branches throughout the world.
Contribution to Psychology
Glasser began to develop his theories after several years in clinical practice. He realized that many people were extremely unhappy with their lives, and in particular, with their relationships with others. Glasser understood that humans have an innate need to control their situations, and the people in their lives, to gain power. This driving need causes individuals to exhibit forceful behaviors in order to satisfy that craving. The need to control, to have power over others, can be tempered if we choose to respect others. Relationships can be healed, and needs can be met, with respect, love, and mutual satisfaction. Control does not have to destroy lives. It was based on these theories that Glasser developed his Choice Theory. At the heart of his theory is the principal that each person in a relationship has the power and freedom to choose their actions, behaviors, and reactions to the other. From his Reality Therapy Institute, Glasser began taking his theories and approaches to the public, offering them freedom from controlling behaviors. Glasser's Reality Therapy has become an internationally accepted and effective method for improving relationships and filling needs in relationships.