Albert Ellis Biography

Albert Ellis is an influential psychologist who developed rational emotional behavior therapy.He played an important role in the cognitive revolution that occurred in the field of psychotherapy and helped influence the rise of cognitive behavioral methods as therapeutic methods. According to a survey of professional psychologists, Ellis was named the second most influential psychotherapist after Carl Rogers and Sigmund Freud.

Albert Ellis is best known for:

  • Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy (REBT)
  • Books on human sexuality
  • ABC model
  • Co-founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The personal life of Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis was born on September 27, 1913 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the eldest of three children. He later described his father as having no feelings, while his mother was emotionally alienated. Since his parents are rarely around, he often finds himself in a position to take care of his younger siblings. Ellis was often sick throughout his childhood. According to reports, he was hospitalized eight times between the ages of 5 and 7. One of the hospitalizations lasted about 10 months, during which time his parents rarely visited or provided comfort and support.

Although he is often known for being outspoken and even described as the “Lenny Bruce of psychotherapy,” Ellis recalled that he was very shy when he was young. At the age of 19, he began to change his behavior and forced himself to talk to every woman he met on a park bench near his home. In one month, he talked to more than 130 women, only one agreed to go out with him, and then she did not appear on a date. He found that he was numb and was no longer afraid to talk to women. He used the same method to overcome his fear of public speaking.

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His first and second marriages ended in nullity and divorce. His 37-year relationship with a director of the Albert Ellis Institute ended in 2002. In 2004, he married Debbie Joffe, an Australian psychologist. Ellis died on July 24, 2007 after a long illness.


After graduating from high school, Ellis received a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the City College of Downtown New York in 1934. He spent some time in a business career and later tried to become a novelist. After struggling with both, he decided to switch careers to study psychology and start studying for a PhD. Received a doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University in 1942. He received a master’s degree and a doctorate degree in clinical psychology in 1943. In 1947.

After completing his degree, Ellis received training in psychoanalysis and began to practice it, but he soon became dissatisfied with what he believed was the weakness of psychoanalysis—passive and ineffective. Influenced by the works of Alfred Adler and others,With Karen Honey and Harry Stark and Sullivan, Ellis began to develop his own psychotherapy methods.

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By 1956, he proposed his method and then called it rational psychotherapy.This approach emphasizes more direct and positive treatment methods. The therapist helps the client understand the underlying irrational beliefs that cause emotional and psychological distress. Today, this method is called Rational Emotional Behavior Therapy or REBT.

Ellis also wrote many articles about human sexuality. He even started contacting clients before completing his PhD. At the time, New York State did not require a formal license for psychologists.

Ellis kept a strict work schedule until the end of his life. He continued to work even in the face of multiple health problems. According to reports, he received as many as 70 patients a week in his 80s and as many as 10 patients a week in his final years.

Contribution to psychology

Although REBT is often described as a branch of CBT, Ellis’ work is indeed part of the cognitive revolution. He helped discover and pioneered cognitive behavioral therapy. He is often described as one of the most outstanding thinkers in the history of psychology.

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Ellis has also written more than 80 books, many of which have become bestsellers. Regarding his influence in the field of psychotherapy, Psychology Today It is recommended that “no one-even Freud himself-has had a greater impact on modern psychotherapy.”

Selected publications by Albert Ellis

Ellis. A. (1957). How to coexist with neurosis. Oxford, UK: Crown Press.

Ellis, A. (1958). Sexual innocence. New York: Hillman.

Ellis, A., Harper, R. (1961). A guide to a rational life. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Ellis, A., Greiger, R. (1977). Handbook of Rational Emotional Therapy. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Ellis, A. (1985). Overcoming resistance: rational emotional therapy for difficult clients. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Ellis, A., Tafrate, RC (1997). How to control your anger before it controls you. Castle Press.

Ellis, A. (2003). Innocence in the 21st Century. Roadblock books.

Ellis, A., Abrams, M., Abrams, L. (2008). Personality theory: a critical view. New York: Sage Press.