Deeply influenced his experience, reading, and unscientific nature of psychoanalysis by January of 1953 his break with psychoanalysis was complete and he commenced calling himself a rational therapist.

  • Ellis was now advocating a new more active and directive type of psychotherapy {26965}.
  • By 1955 he dubbed his new approach Rational-Emotive Therapy and it required that the therapist help the client understand and act on the understanding that his personal philosophy contains beliefs that lead to his own emotionally pain.
  • This new approach stressed actively working to change his client’s self-defeating beliefs and behaviors by illuminating by demonstrating their irrationality or rigidity.
  • The next year Ellis began teaching his new technique to other therapists and by 1957 he formally set forth the first cognitive behavioral psychotherapy by proposing that therapists help people adjust their thinking and behavior as the treatment for neuroses.


  • Two years later Ellis published the book "How to Live with a Neurotic" {26978} which elaborated on his new method.
  • The next year Ellis presented a paper on his new approach at the American Psychological Association convention in Chicago.
  • There was mild interest, but few recognized that the paradigm that in a generation would become the zeitgeist had been set forth.
  • Consequently, he was often received with hostility at professional conferences and in print. Interestingly, on several occasions, at symposia at APA conventions, Fritz Perls the founder of Gestalt therapy would refer sarcastically to Ellis’ "rationality," while completely ignoring the experiential and behavioral components of RET.

Despite the slow adoption of his approach, Ellis founded his own institute. The Institute for Rational-Emotive Therapy was founded a not-for-profit organization in 1959.

  • By 1968 it was chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as a training institute and psychological clinic.
  • His was no trivial feat as New York State had a Mental Hygiene Act which mandated psychiatric management of mental health clinics.
  • T Ellis had broken ground by founding an institute that was purely based on psychological control and principles.

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