Opening of the Albert Ellis Professional Learning Centre… Monday, April 30th, 2012.
Principal Veronica Conley, Rowena, Giulio Bortolozzo, dear staff, teachers, students, parents and all guests present – thank you for being here, and what an immense and profound joy and pleasure it is for me to be here with you on this significant and momentous occasion – the official opening of the Albert Ellis Professional Learning Centre.
In a perfect world, no-one would suffer from great sadness or depression, anxiety, guilt or shame – or any other such debilitating emotional pain. Each individual would feel gladness to experience this gift of being alive, would relish it. Each would, without strain or anxiety, make effort to express themselves in their own unique ways, knowing that if they failed at what they were doing – that they were not “failures”, but fallible humans who had failed at that task that time – and could in all probability learn valuable lessons from doing so.
They would know that life inevitably contains suffering, but that if they strove to change what they could change, and accept what could not be changed, they would remain emotionally healthy and steady, would endure the difficulties, and be open to creating and experiencing more joy in their lives – despite and including the challenging times and events.
Those who became parents would have and would model healthy thinking, emotions and behaviours for their children, so that their children could more easily accept themselves and others unconditionally, would not put themselves or others down, would not bully others, and would predominantly experience and express kindness and compassion.
Teachers would also live that way: not only teaching and exhibiting tolerance and acceptance, whilst setting appropriate boundaries, but also – and most importantly – they would experience calmness, serenity and stability within themselves throughout the challenges of their profession and in the course of their daily lives.
Members of government bodies and departments would communicate in healthy ways, not ever fighting loudly and childishly !!! – foregoing rigid thinking and doing their best to support laws which demonstrate tolerance, encouragement, acceptance and progressive upward development.
In a perfect world !
My husband was the great Albert Ellis.
He pioneered the approach of Cognitive Psychology and his method of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which has helped, and saved, the lives of countless people, and changed the world of psychology and attitudes in society for the better.
He endured much suffering in his life – of a physical nature – from early childhood onwards. And from the age of 3 and a half found ways to suffer less emotional sadness, sorrow and pain about his physical ailments and the loneliness felt through spending many months in hospital with rarely a visit from his family. As a teenager and young man he overcame debilitating shyness, and pushed himself to talk to girls and do public speaking (his 2 greatest fears) and by continuing to make persistent effort at doing what he wanted to be fearless and proficient at – he became comfortable and oh-so skilful at those activities !
In adulthood – coming up with a theory that went against the grain of established Freudian psychology, and finding himself boo-ed at and jeered at by members of his profession – he persisted and presented an approach which now, and for much of the past 60 years, has been the dominant approach in psychology and counselling. He expressed his approach of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in his writings and lectures in a way that both the academic and ‘person-in-the-street’ could understand. He created solid, easy to apply tools which would help humans suffer less and enjoy life more.
In his final years we came up against unanticipated challenges. Members of his Institute worked against him and his goals and treated him badly, and as a result of fatigue from continuing to do his work of up to 16 hour days and also put in great effort to fight for justice for him and his rights in the Institute he founded – he succumbed to pneumonia, which began a 15 month health decline till he passed away on July 24th, 2007.
Despite the deep sadness at those situations, he continued to practice what he preached, accepting – with compassion – those who worked against him, remaining a model of his humanistic and compassionate approach till the day he died.
From the early 1960’s till 2006 my husband would give his famous ‘’Friday Night Workshop’’ – he would start it by saying “This is my famous Friday Night Workshop in which I cure every screwball in town, one at a time… It takes a long time !” These workshops cost a pittance – so that all sorts of people would come and be able to learn the principles of REBT – with the goal of suffering less, being more tolerant and accepting, and to experience greater joy in their lives. My husband’s wish was to contribute to helping individuals make their lives increasingly better – more alive – and more joyful: believing that, through doing so, a healthier society, fewer conflicts, and leaders of greater sanity and stability would emerge. Steps towards creating a more perfect and healthy world.
This is a special day and a most significant occasion.
The Albert Ellis Professional Learning Centre, and it’s teaching and application of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and Rational Emotive Behaviour Education (REBE) , has the potential to inspire, educate, heal and change many lives for the better.
The openness of Principal Veronica Conley , and her commitment to provide the best learning and encouragement of her students, teachers and support staff, her genuine care about the well-being of those and others, has resulted in her embracing the presence of this Centre at Stuart High School , a bold and brave commitment which I am sure other schools will want to follow in the interests of their people.
The determination, and strong dedication to his goals, of Giulio Bortolozzo , and his genuine care for his students and others he works with, has led to this day and contribution. His respect and appreciation of my husband and his work, his embrace of the principles of REBT/REBE, and his proposing the creation of this Centre here – has taken persistence, a lot of work, and stems from the goodness of his heart and genuine desire to help others. It is rare to meet those with such dedication – what a gift he is to your school.
The world may never be a perfect place.
But as a result of what the Albert Ellis Professional Learning Centre will contribute to students, teachers, parents, health care professionals, perhaps also members of the corporate world, and others – by teaching them the tools for making their lives healthier, kinder and happier – a major step is being made to making this world a more healthy one.
As my Al said – “It may take a long time…”. But today, in this way, we begin this new chapter !
Congratulations Veronica, Giulio, and to all who will partake of the fruits this place offers !
This Centre will be a shining beacon and example to those who observe it – as a place which teaches the tools and attitudes which help lives reach their marvellous potentials for greater joy and minimal suffering.
You are doing something truly great. My husband would have been delighted.
I honour you and your efforts, current and to come.
May as many as possible come and benefit from what you contribute.
It is my great heart-bursting delight, on this day:
Monday, the 30th of April, 2012, to declare
The Albert Ellis Professional Learning Centre
officially OPEN !!!