Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.

Foundation Professor
Steven Hayes

Contact Information


  • 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 is Nevada foundation professor in the behavior analysis program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

An author of 44 books and nearly 600 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.

Hayes has been president of Division 25 of the APA, the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), which is an 8,300 member international society that is organized around the approaches he helped create. He was the first secretary-treasurer of the Association for Psychological Science, which he helped form as chair of its initial organizing committee, and has served a five-year term on the National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse in the National Institutes of Health.

In 1992, he was listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as the 30th "highest impact" psychologist in the world. 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. Google Scholar data ranks him among the top ~1,300 most cited scholars in all areas of study, living and dead ( His TEDx talks ( and have been viewed by nearly 200,000 people.

Research Interests

Hayes is interested in the application of contextualistic perspectives to conceptual, methodological and technological problems in psychology, both applied and basic. Stated another way, he is working to foster the development of contextual behavioral science. Also, Hayes studies professional organizational work, administration, teaching and supervision, clinical practice and other applied work and research.

Hayes Lab Group, with seven people in foreground.

Hayes Lab from left to right: Patrick Smith (PhD program Behavior Analysis), Darren Whitlock (undergrad), Elle Waite (undergrad), Emmanuele Rossi (colleague from Italy), Steven C. Hayes, Brandon Sanford (PhD program Clinical Psychology), and Fredrick Chin (PhD program Clinical Psychology). Jeremiah Fruge (undergrad) is the only lab member missing. 

  • Steven Hayes Knowledge in a Nanosecond 
  • Integration of behavioral and biological science. He is interested in how to nest contextual behavioral psychology into modern evolution science.
  • Philosophy of science. He has worked to develop functional contextualism as a viable philosophical system and to explore its implications for behavioral and biological sciences.
  • Methodology and research strategy. He has 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, and process research.
  • Assessment: He has worked on new measures of experiential avoidance, values and cognitive fusion in various specific areas.
  • Basic psychology: He has 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: Hayes has 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: He has worked to develop and test a functional contextual approach to human problems, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
  • Nonclinical applications: He has worked to apply RFT to such areas as education or social bias, and to create intervention technologies based on ACT for problems, such as stigma and prejudice.

Hayes' interests are not defined particularly by population or problem. He has done work in the past few years with anxiety, depression, psychosis, prejudice, burnout, stress, diabetes, weight control, sleeping, smoking, pain, and substance abuse, among other areas.

Notable presentations

  • Hayes, S. C. (April 2016). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: State of the evidence. Colloquium presented to the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.
  •  Hayes, S. C. (January 2015). ACT, RFT, and autism: What contextual behavioral science has to offer. Invited address presented to the Association for Behavior Analysis International Autism Conference, Las Vegas, NV.  
  • Hayes, S. C.(February 2015). Acceptance and Commitment. Invited address presented to the meeting of the Nevada Psychiatric Association, Las Vegas, NV.  
  • Hayes, S. C (September 2015). Psychotherapy as applied evolution science. Colloquia presented to the Department of Special Education, University of Louisville.  
  • Hayes, S. C. (April 2015). It's we, not me: Building on the social nature of human consciousness. Invited address presented to the Creating Connections Conference, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands.   
  • Hayes, S. C. (July 2015). Contextual behavioral science as a form of evolution science: Why it matters to the long term global impact of our work. Invited plenary address presented at the meeting the 13th World Conference of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Berlin, Germany.  
  • Hayes, S. C. (November 2015). The future of contextual behavioral science. Invited address presented to the annual meeting of the Australian / New Zealand chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Wellington, New Zealand.  
  • Hayes, S. C. (September 2015). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and the importance of psychological flexibility. Invited address presented to the annual meeting of the Norwegian Psychological Association, Oslo, Norway.
  •  Hayes, S. C. (December 2014). CBS Unleashed: Moving Ahead on Broad Scale Change. Invited address presented to the annual meeting of the United Kingdom / Ireland Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Dublin, Ireland.  
  • Hayes, S. C., (May 2014). The Future of Clinical Psychology: 12 Predictions. Colloquium presented to the Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.  
  • Hayes, S. C. (September 2014). Flexible Minds, Hearts, and Hands: How to Empower Leaders, Workers, and Lives. Invited address presented to the Harvard Institute on Coaching, Harvard University.  Hayes, S. C. (May 2013). Acceptance and mindfulness in psychotherapy. Colloquium presented to the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. 
  •  Hayes, S. C. (July 2013). Compassion, self-acceptance, and pro-sociality:
    The implications of evolution science for CBS and vice versa
    . Invited address presented at the 11th World Conference of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Sydney, Australia.
  • Hayes, S. C. (April 2013). What we are trying to do in the ACT tradition: The nature of contextual behavioral science. Colloquium presented to the University of Montreal, Canada.
  • Hayes, S. C. (April 2013). Language, learning, and evolution: A functional contextual view of agency. Colloquium presented to Southern Methodist University, Dallas. 
  • Hayes, S. C. (April 2012). The psychological basis of rules as genotypes. Presented to the working conference "Rules as Genotypes", University of Indiana; Elinor Ostrom, Organizer

Sample of Recent Books (2012-2017)

  • Luoma, J., Hayes, S. C., & Walser, R. (in press). Learning ACT (2nd ed). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  • Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. (Eds.) (in press). Process-based CBT: Core clinical competencies in evidence-based treatment. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  • Nieuwsma, J. A., Walser, R. D. & Hayes, S. C. (2016). (Eds.) ACT for clergy and pastoral counselors: Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to bridge psychological and spiritual care. Oakland, CA: Context Press / New Harbinger Publications.
  • Zettle, R. D., Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D. & Biglan, T. (2016). (Eds.) The Wiley handbook of Contextual Behavioral Science. Chichester, UK: Wiley/Blackwell.
  • Hayes, S. C. (2015). (Ed.) The Act in context: The canonical papers of Steven C. Hayes. New York: Routledge.
  • Villatte, M., Villatte, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2015). Mastering the clinical conversation: Language as intervention. New York: Guilford.
  • Hayes, S. C. & Levin, M. (2012). Mindfulness and acceptance for addictive behaviors: Applying contextual CBT to substance abuse and behavioral addictions. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  • Hayes, S. C., & Lillis, J. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The process and practice of mindful change (2nd edition). New York: Guilford Press.


  • Psy 299 - Evolution Across the Disciplines
  • Psy 441 - Abnormal Psychology
  • Psy 443 - Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis  
  • Psy 499 - Evolution and Human Behavior
  • Psy 499 - Mindfulness
  • Psy 723 - Applied Research Methods
  • Psy 761 - Grant Writing
  • Psy 761 - Relational Frame Theory
  • Psy 762 - Experimental Analysis of Human Behavior:
  • Psy 750 - Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


  • Atkins, P. W. B., Ciarrochi, J., Gaudiano, B. A., Bricker, J. B., Donald, J., Rovner, G., Smout, M., Lundgren, F., Livheim, T. & Hayes, S. C. (in press). 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.
  • Hayes, S. C. & Hofmann, S. G. (in press). The third wave of cognitive behavioral therapy and the rise of process-based care. World Psychiatry.
  • 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. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2017.01.002  
  • Fiorillo, D., McLean, C., Pistorello, J., Hayes, S. C., & Follette, V. M. (in press; 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, doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2016.11.003
  • Shawyer, F., Farhall, J., Thomas, N., Hayes, S. C., Gallop, R., Copolov, D., & Castle, D. J. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for psychosis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 210, 140-148. Doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.116.182865
  • 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. DOI: 10.1027/1015-5759/a000327
  • Hayes, S. C., (2016). The situation has clearly changed - so what are we going to do about it? Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 23, 446-450. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2015.09.001 
  • Levin, M. E., Luoma, J. B., Vilardaga, R., Lillis, J., Nobles, R. & Hayes, S. C. (2016). Examining the role of psychological inflexibility, perspective taking and empathic concern in generalized prejudice. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 46, 180-191. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12355 
  • Jackson, M. L., Williams, W. L., & Hayes, S. C. (2016). Whatever gets your heart pumping: The impact of implicitly selected reinforcer-focused statements on exercise intensity. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 5, 48-57.
  • Villatte, J. L., Vilardaga, R., Villatte, M., Vilardaga, J. C. P., Atkins, D. A., & Hayes, S. C. (2016). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy modules: Differential impact on treatment processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 77, 52-61. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.001
  • Levin, M.E., Hayes, S.C., Pistorello, J. & Seeley, J. (2016). Web-based self-help for preventing mental health problems in universities: Comparing acceptance and commitment training to mental health education. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 72, 207-225. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22254.
  • Pistorello, J, Hayes, S. C., Costello, E., Simpson, E., Begin, A., Rosen, K., & Pearlstein, T. (2015). Suppression, acceptance, and monitoring of personally-relevant unwanted thoughts in women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 6, 411-432. 10.5127/jep.042614
  • Livheim, F., Hayes, L., Ghaderi, A. Magnusdottir, T., Högfeldt, A., Rowse, J., Turner, S., Hayes, S. C., & Tengström, A. (2015). The effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for adolescent mental health: Swedish and Australian pilot outcomes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(4), 1016-1030. doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-9912-9 
  • Eilers, H. J., and Hayes, S. C. (2015). Exposure and response prevention therapy with cognitive difusion exercises to reduce repetitive and restrictive behaviors displayed by children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 19, 18-31. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.12.014
  •  Twohig, M. P., Plumb Vilardaga, J. C., Levin M. E., & Hayes, S. C. (2015). Changes in psychological flexibility during acceptance and commitment therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 4, 196-202. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2015.07.001  
  • Hayes, S. C. & Sanford, B. (2015). Modern psychotherapy as a multidimensional multilevel evolutionary process. Current Opinion in Psychology, 2. 16-20. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.01.009
  • Yadavaia, J., Vilardaga, R., & Hayes, S. C. (2014). Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to increase self-compassion: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 248-257. doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2014.09.002  
  • Levin, M. E., MacLane, C., Daflos, S., Seeley, J., Hayes, S. C., Biglan, A. & Pistorello, J. (2014). Examining psychological inflexibility as a transdiagnostic risk factor for Axis I disorders among first year college students. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 155-163. doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2014.06.003
  • Quinones, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2014). Relational coherence in ambiguous and unambiguous relational networks. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 101, 76-93. doi: 10.1002/jeab.67521
  • Vilardaga, J. C. P., Villatte, M., & Hayes, S. C. (2014). Understanding and taking advantage of experiential work in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In N. Thoma & D. McKay (Ed.) Engaging emotion in cognitive behavioral therapy: Techniques for clinical practice (pp. 32-58). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Wilson, D. S., Hayes, S. C., Biglan, T., & Embry, D. (2014). Collaborating on evolving the future. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 34, 438- 460. doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000016
  • Wilson, D. S., Hayes, S. C., Biglan, T., & Embry, D. (2014). Evolving the future: Toward a science of intentional change. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 34, 395-416. doi:10.1017/S0140525X13001593
  • Long, D. & Hayes, S. C. (2014). Acceptance, mindfulness, and cognitive reappraisal as longitudinal predictors of depression and quality of life in educators. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 38-44.
  • Luoma, J.B., Kulesza, M., Hayes, S. C., Kohlenberg, B., & Larimer, M. (2014). Stigma predicts treatment length in residential substance use disorder treatment. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 40(3), 206-212.
  • Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., Luoma, J., Hayes, S. C.  Vilardaga, R. (2014). The Acceptance and Action Questionnaire - Stigma (AAQ-S): Developing a measure of psychological flexibility with stigmatizing thoughts. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 21-26. 2013.11.003  
  • Levin, M.E., Pistorello, J., Seeley, J. & Hayes, S.C. (2014). Feasibility of a prototype web-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy prevention program for college students. Journal of American College Health, 62, 20-30. doi:10.1080/07448481.2013.843533
  • Hayes, S. C. & Sanford, B. (2014). Cooperation came first: Evolution and human cognition. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 101, 112-129. doi: 10.1002/jeab.64
  • Hayes, S. C., Levin, M., Vilardaga, J., Villatte, J., & Pistorello, J. (2013). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and contextual behavioral science: Examining the progress of a distinctive model of behavioral and cognitive therapy. Behavior Therapy, 44, 180-198. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2009.08.002 PMCID: PMC3635495
  • Chase, J. A., Houmanfar, R., Hayes, S. C., Ward, T. A., Vilardaga, J. P., & Follette, V. M. (2013). Values are not just goals: Online ACT-based values training adds to goal-setting in improving undergraduate college student performance. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 2, 79-84 2013.08.002
  • Brown, R. A., Palm Reed, K. M., Bloom, E. L., Minami, H., Strong, D. R., Lejuez, C. W., Kahler, C. W., Zvolensky, M. J., Gifford, E. V., & Hayes, S. C. (2013). Development and preliminary randomized controlled trial of a distress tolerance treatment for smokers with a history of early lapse. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 15, 2005-2015. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt093 
  • Vilardaga, R., Hayes, S. C., Atkins, D. C., Bresee, C. & Kambiz, A. (2013). Comparing experiential acceptance and cognitive reappraisal as predictors of functional outcome among individuals with psychotic symptoms. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51, 425-433.
  • Luoma, J. B., Rye, A., Kohlenberg, B. S., & Hayes, S. C. (2013). Self-stigma in substance abuse: Development of a new measure. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35, 223-234. doi:10.1007/s10862-012-9323-4
  • Hayes, S. C., Long, D. M., Levin, M. E., & Follette, W. C. (2013). Treatment development: Can we find a better way? Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 870-882. 
  • Bach, P., Gaudiano, B. A., Hayes, S. C. & Herbert, J. D. (2013). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for psychosis: Intent to treat hospitalization outcome and mediation by believability. Psychosis, 5, 166-174.
  • Vilardaga, R., Estévez, A., Levin, M. E., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). Deictic relational responding, empathy and experiential avoidance as predictors of social anhedonia: Further contributions from relational frame theory. The Psychological Record, 62, 409-432.
  • Hayes, S. C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Wilson, K. G. (2012). Contextual behavioral science: Creating a science more adequate to the challenge of the human condition. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 1, 1-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2012.09.004
  • Hildebrant, M. & Hayes, S. C. (2012). Exploring the contributing role of negative affectivity, motivation, and experiential avoidance to cardiovascular disease. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 551-630. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00448.x
  • Hayes, S. C. (2012). Humanistic psychology and contextual behavioral perspectives. Psychotherapy49(4), 455-460. doi:10.1037/a0027396
  • Hayes, S. C. (2012). The choice humanistic psychology faces. Psychotherapy49(4), 461-464. doi:10.1037/a0027625   Levin, M. E., Hildebrandt, M. J., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). The impact of treatment components suggested by the psychological flexibility model: A meta-analysis of laboratory-based component studies. Behavior Therapy, 43, 741-756. DOI: 10.1016/j.beth.2012.05.003.
  • Weineland, S., Hayes, S. C. & Dahl, J. (2012). Psychological flexibility and the gains of acceptance-based treatment for post bariatric surgery: Six-month follow up and a test of the underlying model. Clinical Obesity, 2, 15-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-8111.2012.00041.x.
  • Yadavaia, J. & Hayes, S. C. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for self-stigma around sexual orientation: A multiple baseline evaluation. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19, 545-559. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2011.09.002
  • Meuret, A. E., Twohig, M. P., Hayes, S. C., Rosenfield, D. & Craske, M. G. (2012). Brief acceptance and commitment therapy and exposure for panic disorder: A pilot study. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19, 606-618.
  • Luoma, J. B., Kohlenberg, B. S., Hayes, S. C. & Fletcher, L. (2012). Slow and steady wins the race: A randomized clinical trial of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy targeting shame in substance use disorders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80, 43-53. doi: 10.1037/a0026070
  • Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., Seeley, J., Hayes, S. C., Pistorello, J., & Biglan, A. (2012). Exploring the relationship between experiential avoidance, alcohol use disorders and alcohol-related problems among first-year college students. The Journal of American College Health, 60, 443-448.
  • Bach, P., Hayes, S. C. & Gallop, R. (2012). Long-term effects of brief Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for psychosis. Behavior Modification, 36, 167 - 183. doi: 10.1177/0145445511427193
  • Levin, M.E., Lillis, J. & Hayes, S.C. (2012). When is online pornography viewing problematic among college males? Examining the moderating role of experiential avoidance. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 19, 168-180.
  • Jeffcoat, T. & Hayes, S. C. (2012). A randomized trial of ACT bibliotherapy on the mental health of K-12 teachers and staff. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50. 571-579. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2012.05.008
  • Pearson, A. N., Follette, V. M. & Hayes, S. C. (2012). A pilot study of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as a workshop intervention for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19, 181-197. doi: 0.1016/j.cbpra.2011.03.001