Acts of Kindness


Generosity refers to being benevolent by giving and sharing acts of kindness.  Al Ellis can be counted among the super productive. He was famous for his pioneering work in rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). His pioneering work in sexology is legendary.  He was at the forefront of the psychology self-help movement, having published volumes of materials that practically anyone could apply to his- or herself to feel and do better. He was not widely known for his generosity.  Nevertheless, this was his “magnificent obsession,” and, perhaps, a driving force for his exceptional productivity.

Shyness and Generosity

Gayle Rosellini, MS., author Of Course Your Angry

I was a shy girl, self-conscious, mortified by life.  My mother re-framed it as still waters running deep. She did her best to teach me social graces, good posture, how to dress and how to conduct myself in public.  As a result, people didn’t view me as shy.  Instead, many called me stuck up, conceited, haughty.  Therefore, as I practiced ways to obscure my shyness, my mortification grew.

As a college psychology student, I decided to take charge of my life, to stop the mortification, but I didn’t have a clue what to do. Then a professor showed the famous movie, Three Approaches to Psychotherapy — Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls and Albert Ellis.  Albert Ellis had me at hello.

I threw myself into Rational Emotive Therapy and slowly, slowly, with plenty of practice, my life changed.  I did ABCs, Rational Cost-Benefit Analyses and visualization every single day for five years — Christmas, my birthday, the 4th of July. When Al said, “Do homework, practice, practice, practice,” I took him seriously.

I became a therapist and author, writing in the same conversational tone Al used.  Readers from all over the country called and wrote, wanting me to be their therapist.  I didn’t do telephone therapy, but Albert Ellis did.  I made dozens of referrals to Al.  This is when I learned that Albert Ellis, the quintessential curmudgeon, had a wide streak of generosity for people in need. When a client had limited means, Al – the world’s greatest living psychotherapist — quietly reduced his rate.

During the last years of his life, I helped Al and his wife Debbie Joffe with correspondence and newsletters.  Al was sick, hospitalized, and embattled by members of the Institute he founded.  I promised to complete an urgent task for him to help him in his defense, but a member of my family became critically ill.  Al dropped all of his own concerns, focused on me from his hospital bed, giving me encouragement and support until my loved one was out of danger.   I greatly benefitted from his strength when mine faltered.

That was Dr. Albert Ellis, well into his 90s — physically fragile, still an intellectual giant, still knowing exactly the right word and gesture to help.  Irreplaceable.

(For years, Gayle volunteered to provide REBT services to welfare mothers enrolled in self-improvement programs, and to help people in recovery from addictions. She routinely helps defend the rights of the oppressed.  She’s quite a good model for generous behavior.)

How Albert Ellis Affected My Life

Dr. William Glasser M.D., author Choice Theory

I have always been reasonably well-known since my 1965 book Reality Therapy, but I have been more concerned about acceptance of my book Choice Theory.  I sent this book to Albert Ellis hoping to receive some sort of an answer and to my surprise, he sent me a 25-page paper critiquing the book in great detail and supporting most of the conclusions in the book.

Some time later, I attended a conference and William Powers was there along with Albert Ellis, myself and Alfie Kohn.  At that conference, Albert Ellis presented the paper he sent me on the book Choice Theory and he did an amazing job.  I was able to personally meet with him at that conference and we were able to spend some time and have lunch together.  Since that time, we have certainly become quite good friends and I support him in almost everything he does.

After the book, Choice Theory, I wrote a book called Counseling with Choice Theory.  I sent it to Albert, and again, to my surprise, instead of sending me a brief comment, he took his time and went through it word by word.  He also sent me an audio tape suggesting about 60 changes to the book, which he thought would make it more effective than it was.  I think I took about 59 of his suggestions.  He also sent me a blurb for the cover of the book, which I cherish.

At the annual Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in 2006, I was able to get to know him even better.  I was able to present with him and that, to me, was the highlight of the conference.

I hope this sheds some light on how Albert Ellis has affected my life.

Albert Ellis: The Innovator

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., co-author Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Basics and Beyond

Dr. Albert Ellis is one of the great innovators, psychotherapists, and psychologists of all time. His early work on rational therapy, later labeled rational-emotive therapy, paved the way for a number of subsequent effective psychotherapies, including CBT. His ABC theory and emphasis on self-statements and beliefs foreshadowed my own work on automatic thoughts and beliefs. REBT deserves a place as one of the most important current psychotherapies. I would be dismayed to learn that it had been attenuated or replaced by weaker, untested psychotherapeutic approaches.

I believe everybody in the psychotherapy field feels indebted to Ellis for his contributions and are regretful of institutional and policy changes which may have undermined his most precious contribution to the field.

Let Us Whine No More Or At Least Much Less

Albert Ellis (Sung to the tune of The Whiffenpoof Song by Guy Schull)

I cannot have all of my wishes filled

Whine, whine, whine!

I cannot have every frustration stilled

Whine, whine, whine!

Life really owes me the things that I miss, Fate has to grant me eternal bliss!

And since I must settle for less than this

Whine, whine, whine!

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