Steven C. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada.
An author of 47 books and over 675 scientific articles, his career has focused on an analysis of the nature of human language and cognition and the application of this to the understanding and alleviation of human suffering. He is the developer of Relational Frame Theory, an account of human higher cognition, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based methods. Dr. Hayes has been President of Division 25 of the APA, of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. He was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the Association for Psychological Science, which he helped form and has served a 5-year term on the National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse in the National Institutes of Health. Google Scholar data ranks him among the top 935 highest impact living scholars worldwide in all areas of study and Research.com lists him as the 63rd highest impact psychologist in the world.
Dr. Hayes is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in addition to several other scientific societies. His work has been recognized by several awards including the Exemplary Contributions to Basic Behavioral Research and Its Applications from Division 25 of APA, the Impact of Science on Application award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy. He was the University of Nevada, Reno Outstanding Researcher of the Year in 1997; the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents' Mid-Career Researcher of the Year in 2000; and the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents' Distinguished Career Researcher in 2022.
Dr. Hayes is actively involved in bringing science information to the public, such as through his blog on the Psychology Today blog, Medium and Thrive Global websites. His TEDx talks on pain and purpose, or on quickly reining in the impact of unhelpful automatic thoughts, have been viewed over a million times and he appears regularly in major podcasts and on other media. His work in ACT has been validated by World Health Organization, and WHO now distributes ACT-based self-help for “anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances.” As of April 2022, a number of different organizations have stated that ACT is empirically supported in certain areas or as a whole according to their standards. These include: American Psychological Association, Society of Clinical Psychology (Div. 12); The World Health Organization; The United Kingdom National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); the Australian Psychological Society; Netherlands Institute of Psychologists: Sections of Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation; Sweden Association of Physiotherapists; SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices; California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare; and the U.S. Veterans Affairs/DoD.
In the broadest terms, I am interested in the application of contextualistic perspectives to conceptual, methodological, and technological problems in psychology, both applied and basic. Stated another way, I am working to foster the development of contextual behavioral science. I am about equally interested in professional organizational work, administration, teaching and supervision, clinical practice and other applied work, and research.
My specific interests are as follows:
- Integration of behavioral and biological science: I believe it is essential to nest contextual behavioral psychology into modern evolutionary science, and I am exploring the intellectual and practical implications of that integration.
- Philosophy of science: I have worked to develop functional contextualism as a viable philosophical system and to explore its implications for behavioral and biological sciences.
- Methodology and research strategy: I have focused on how to link functional contextual thinking to methodological and strategic issues such areas as time-series (single-case) designs, the role of theory, effectiveness research, treatment utility as a method of determining the value of assessment, reticulated interaction between applied and basic research, idionomic data analysis, and the nature and role of research on processes of change.
- Assessment: I have worked on new measures of experiential avoidance, values, and cognitive fusion in various specific areas and how to develop assessment methods with a view toward functional impact and the accurate depiction of individual human functioning.
- Basic psychology: I have worked to develop and test a comprehensive, experimentally-based functional contextual analysis of the nature of the human language and cognition: Relational Frame Theory (RFT).
- Psychopathology: I have explored the role of experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, loss of contact with the moment, lack of values clarify, rule-based psychological inflexibility and similar processes in the creation of human suffering.
- Clinical application: I have worked to develop and test a functional contextual approach to human problems, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and to expand its approach to process and theory into process-based therapy more generally. I have also helped create a new model of evidence-based intervention, Process-Based Therapy.
- Non-clinical applications: I have worked to apply RFT to such areas as education or social bias, to create intervention technologies based on ACT for problems such as stigma and prejudice, and to socially extend these ideas through application of evolutionary principles drawn from the work of Elinor Ostrom (see Prosocial World website).
My interests are not defined particularly by population or problem. I have done work in the last several years with anxiety, depression, psychosis, prejudice, burnout, stress, diabetes, weight control, sleeping, smoking, pain, and substance abuse, among other areas.
- Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1977
- M.A., Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1974
- B.A. Cum Laude, Psychology, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, 1970
Steven C. Hayes ORCID#: 0000-0003-43996859
Books (last five years)
- Dixon, M. R., Hayes, S. C., & Belisle, J. (2023). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for behavior analysts: A practice guide from theory to treatment. New York: Routledge.
- Hofmann, S. G., Hayes, S. C., & Lorscheid, D. N. (2021). Learning process-based therapy: A Skills Training Manual for targeting the core processes of psychological change in clinical practice. New Harbinger Publications.
- Hofmann, S. G. & Hayes, S. C. (2020). Beyond the DSM: A process-based approach. Oakland, CA: Context Press / New Harbinger Publications.
- Atkins, P., Wilson, D. S., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). Prosocial: Using evolutionary science to build productive, equitable, and collaborative groups. Oakland, CA: Context Press / New Harbinger Publications.
- Hayes, S. C. (2019). A liberated mind: How to pivot toward what matters. New York: Penguin/Avery.
- Wilson, D. S. & Hayes, S. C. (Eds.). (2018). Evolution and contextual behavioral science: An integrated framework for understanding, predicting, and influencing human behavior. Oakland, CA: Context Press / New Harbinger Publications.
- Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). (Eds.), Process-based CBT: The science and core clinical competencies of cognitive behavioral therapy. Oakland, CA: Context Press / New Harbinger Publications.
- Luoma, J., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. (2017). Learning ACT: An Acceptance & Commitment Therapy skills-training manual for therapists (2nd ed). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Major publications (last five years)
- Hayes, S. C., Ciarrochi, J., Hofmann, S. G., Chin, F., & Sahdra, B. (2022). Evolving an idionomic approach to processes of change: Towards a unified personalized science of human improvement. Behaviour Research and Therapy.
- Ciarrochi, J. Sahdra, B., Hofmann, S., & Hayes, S. C. (2022). Developing an item pool to assess processes of change in psychological interventions: The Process-Based Assessment Tool (PBAT). Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 23, 200-213.
- Ciarrochi, J., Hayes, S. C., Oades, L. G., Hofmann, S. G. (2022). Toward a unified framework for positive psychology interventions: Evidence-based processes of change. Frontiers in Psychology. 10 February 2022.
- Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (2021). “Third-wave” cognitive and behavioral therapies and the emergence of a process-based approach to intervention in psychiatry. World Psychiatry, 20(3), 363-375.
- Geda, Y. E., Krell-Roesch, J., Fisseha, Y., Tefera, A., Beyero, T., Rosenbaum, D., Szabo, T. G., Araya, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in a low-income country in sub-Saharan Africa: A call for further research. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, 1363.
- Hayes, S. C., Merwin, R. M., McHugh, L., Sandoz, E., A-Tjak, J., Ruiz, F. J., Barnes-Holmes, D., Bricker, J. B., Ciarrochi, J., Dixon, M. R., Kenneth Fung, K., Gloster, A. T., Gobin, R. L., Gould, E. R., Hofmann, S. G., Kasujja, R., Karekla, M., Luciano, C. & McCracken, L. M. (2021). Report of the ACBS task force on the strategies and tactics of contextual behavioral science research. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 20, 172-183.
- Hayes, S. C., Law, S., Assemi, K., Falletta-Cowden, N., Shamblin, M., Burleigh, K., Olla, R., Forman, M., & Smith, P. (2021). Relating is an operant: A fly over of 35 years of RFT research. Perspectivas em Analise do Comportamento, 12(1), 5-32.
- Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Hayes, S. C., Stanley, C. R., Blevins, A., Gutknecht, K. F., Partlo, A., Ryan, L., & Lucas, C. (2021). Evidence from children with autism that derived relational responding is a generalized operant. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14(2), 295-323.
- Dixon, M. R., Hayes, S. C., Stanley, C. R., Law, S. & Al-Nasser, T. (2020). Is Acceptance and Commitment Training or Therapy (ACT) a method that applied behavior analysts can and should use? The Psychological Record, 70, 559-579.
- Hayes, S. C., Hofmann, S. G., & Stanton, C. E. (2020). Process-based functional analysis can help behavioral science step up to the challenges of novelty: COVID – 19 as an example. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 18, 128-145.
- Hayes, S. C., Hofmann, S. G. & Wilson, D. S. (2020). Clinical psychology is an applied evolutionary science. Clinical Psychology Review, 81, 101892.
- Hayes, S. C., Hofmann, S. G. & Ciarrochi, J. (2020). A process-based approach to psychological diagnosis and treatment: The conceptual and treatment utility of an extended evolutionary model. Clinical Psychology Review, 82, 101908.
- Hayes, S. C., Law, S., Malady, M., Zhu, Z., & Bai, X. (2020). The centrality of sense of self in psychological flexibility processes: What the neurobiological and psychological correlates of psychedelics suggest. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 15, 30-38.
- Presti, G., McHugh, L., Gloster, A., Karekla, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2020). The dynamics of fear at the time of COVID-19: A contextual behavioral science perspective. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 17(2), 65-71.
- Hofmann, S. G., Curtiss, J. E., & Hayes, S. C. (2020). Beyond linear mediation: Toward a dynamic network approach to study treatment processes. Clinical Psychological Science, 76, 101824.
- Hayes, S. C. (2020). Constructing a liberated and modern mind: Six pathways from pathology to euthymia. World Psychiatry, 19, 51-52.
- Ii, T., Sato, H., Watanabe, N., Kondo, M., Masuda, A., Hayes, S. C., & Akechi, T. (2019). Psychological flexibility-based interventions versus first-line psychosocial interventions for substance use disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 13, 109-120.
- Hayes, S. C. (2019). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Towards a unified model of behavior change. World Psychiatry, 18 (2), 226-227.
- Smith, P., Leeming, E., Forman, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). From form to function: Values and committed action strengthen mindful practices with context and direction. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 10(4), 227-234.
- Hayes, S. C., & Hofmann, S. G. (2019). Focusing on the correct level of analysis in process-based therapy. Clinical Psychological Science, 7, 189-190.
- Hofmann, S. G. & Hayes, S. C. (2019). The future of intervention science: Process based therapy. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(1), 37–50.
- Hayes, S. C. (2019). The evolution of consciousness enables conscious evolution. This View of Life.
- Hofmann, S. G. & Hayes, S. C. (2019). Functional analysis is dead: Long live functional analysis. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(1), 63–67.
- Hayes, S. C., Hofmann, S. G., Stanton, C. E., Carpenter, J. K., Sanford, B. T., Curtiss, J. E., & Ciarrochi, J. (2019). The role of the individual in the coming era of process-based therapy. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 117, 40-53.
- Smith, B. M., Villatte, J. L., Ong, C. W., Butcher, G., Twohig, M. P., Levin, M. E., & Hayes, S. C. (2019). The influence of a personal values intervention on cold pressor-induced distress tolerance. Behavior Modification, 43(5), 688–710.
- Long, D. M. & Hayes, S. C. (2018). Development of an ACT prototype for therapeutic skill assessment. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 9, 63-71.
- Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). A psychological model of the use of psychological intervention science: Seven rules for making a difference. Clinical Psychology: Research and Practice, 25(3), e12259.
- Brown, R.A., Palm Reed, K.M., Bloom, E.L., Minami, H., Strong, D.R., Lejuez, C.W., Zvolensky, M.J. & Hayes, S.C. (2018). A randomized controlled trial of distress tolerance treatment for smoking cessation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 32, 389-400.
- Zhang, C., Leeming, E., Smith, P., Chung, P-K., Hagger, M. S., & Hayes, S. C. (2018). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for health behavior change: A contextually-driven approach. Frontiers in Psychology: Clinical and Health Psychology, 8, 2350.
- Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (2018). Survival circuits and therapy: From automaticity to the conscious experience of fear and anxiety. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 24, 21-25.
- Atkins, P. W. B., Ciarrochi, J., Gaudiano, B. A., Bricker, J. B., Donald, J., Rovner, G., Smout, M., Livheim, F., Lundgren, T., Hayes, S. C. (2017). Departing from the essential features of a high quality systematic review of psychotherapy: A Response to Öst (2014) and recommendations for improvement. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 97, 259-272.
- Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). The third wave of cognitive behavioral therapy and the rise of process-based care. World Psychiatry, 16, 245-246.
- Hayes, S. C., Sanford, B. T., & Chin, F. (2017). Carrying the baton: Evolution science and a contextual behavioral analysis of language and cognition. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 6, 314-328.
- Fiorillo, D., McLean, C., Pistorello, J., Hayes, S. C., & Follette, V. M. (2017). Evaluation of a web-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy program for women with trauma related problems: A pilot study. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 6, 104-113.
- Shawyer, F., Farhall, J., Thomas, N., Hayes, S. C., Gallop, R., Copolov, D., & Castle, D. J. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for psychosis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 210, 140-148.
- Monestès, J. L., Karekla, M., Jacobs, N., Michaelides, M., Hooper, N., Kleen, M., Ruiz, F. J., Miselli, G., Presti, G., Luciano, C., Villatte, M., Bond, F., Kishita, N., & Hayes, S. C. (2017). Experiential avoidance as a common psychological process in European cultures. European Journal of Psychological Assessment.
Licensed Psychologist, Nevada, License #185