You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.
September 27: A Founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
September 27, 2013
Albert Ellis, a key founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which seeks to shift the self-harming beliefs and behaviors of patients without the deep analytic procedures of psychoanalysis, was born in Pittsburgh on this date in 1913. Ellis began his career as a Freudian but was influenced by the writings of Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Harry Stack Sullivan and others to rethink therapy and adopt a more interventionist approach. In 1959, he founded the Institute for Rational Living in New York, one year after publishing Sex Without Guilt, an influential book that advocated a liberal attitude to sex and helped fuel the sexual revolution during the 1960s. In those heady days, Ellis worked closely with Alfred Kinsey and published numerous articles and books on human sexuality (his view of homosexuality as a pathology, however, would not be fully, publicly revised until the publication of a new edition of Sex Without Guilt in 2001). Ellis’ cognitive behavioral approaches to therapy influenced many schools of psychotherapy in the 1980s and later, and in a 1982 survey of North American psychologists he was ranked #2 (behind Carl Rogers and ahead of Sigmund Freud) as the most influential psychologist in the world. To watch him conducting a 1965 counseling session, look below. “People don’t just get upset. They contribute to their upsetness.” —Albert Ellis