World-renowned psychologist, Dr. Thomas Gordon, author of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) and founder of Gordon Training International of Solana Beach, California, died Monday, August 26, after a bout with prostate cancer. He was 84.
Dr. Gordon spent more than 50 years teaching parents, teachers and leaders the model he developed for building effective relationships. His model was based on a strong belief that the use of coercive power damages relationships. As an alternative, he taught people skills for communicating and resolving conflicts that they can use to build and maintain good relationships at home, school and at work. These skills, which include Active Listening, I-Messages and No-Lose Conflict Resolution, are now widely known and used by people around the world.
Dr. Gordon first applied some of these methods in the 1950s as a consultant to business organizations. Then, in the early 60s, he developed the Parent Effectiveness Training course-commonly known as P.E.T.-and taught the first class to a group of 14 parents in a Pasadena , CA cafeteria. The courses proved to be so popular with parents that he began training instructors throughout the U.S. to teach it in their communities. Over the next several years, the course spread to all 50 states.
In 1970 Dr. Gordon wrote Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), a book which gave many more parents access to this new parenting philosophy. As a result, people in many parts of the world became interested in making the program available in their countries. To date, the P.E.T. book (revised in 2000) has been published in 33 languages and sold over five million copies. Over a million people have participated in the course in 40 countries around the world.
Because Dr. Gordon saw that the same model applied to all kinds of relationships, he wrote books specifically for teachers (Teacher Effectiveness Training, T.E.T.) and leaders (Leader Effectiveness Training, L.E.T.) and designed programs based on these books. Over 200,000 teachers have participated in the T.E.T. program and hundreds of U.S. and international corporations offer L.E.T. to their leaders and managers.
In recognition of his contributions to the betterment of humanity Dr. Gordon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, 1998 and 1999. In addition, both the American Psychological Foundation and the California Psychological Association presented him with lifetime achievement awards.
Dr. Gordon received his B.A. from DePauw University , his M.A. from Ohio State University , and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago , where he served on the faculty for five years. From 1942-1946 he served in the Army Air Force.
Gordon Training International, the company he founded in 1974, continues his work led by his wife Linda Adams, President, and his daughter Michelle Adams, Director of Client Relations.
Dr. Gordon is survived by Linda Adams, his wife, his daughters Michelle Adams of Carlsbad , California and Judy Verret of Birch Bay , Washington . He has two granddaughters, Erin Thomsen and Marguerite Sands, and a great-granddaughter.
A celebration of Dr. Gordon’s life was held Saturday, September 7, 2002 . Dr. Gordon requested that instead of flowers people donate to his favorite charities: Prevent Child Abuse America , 200 S. Michigan Avenue , 17th Floor, Chicago , Illinois 60604-2404 and The Carter Center, Office of Development, One Copenhill, Atlanta , Georgia 30307.