Steven Hayes' Profile Photo

Steven C. Hayes

Foundation Professor He, him, his


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 46 books and nearly 650 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. In 1992 he was listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as the 30th "highest impact" psychologist in the world and Google Scholar data ranks him among the top ~1,350 most cited scholars in all areas of study, living and dead.

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. 

Dr. Hayes is actively involved in bringing science information to the public, such as through his blog on the Psychology Today blog or Thrive Global websites. His TEDx talks on pain and purpose, or on quickly reining in the impact of unhelpful automatic thoughts, have been viewed nearly three-quarter of a million times and he appears regularly in major podcasts and on other media.

Research interests

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 practice 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, idiographic research approaches, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 social extend these ideas through application of evolutionary principles drawn from the work of Elinor Ostrom (see
  • 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

Select publications

Steven C. Hayes ORCID#: 0000-0003-43996859

Books (last five years)

  • Hofmann, S. G., Hayes, S. C., & Lorscheid, D. N. (2022). 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. (in press; 2020). Beyond the DSM: A process-based approach. 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.
  • 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.

Major publications (last five years)

  • Dixon, M. R., Belisle, J., Hayes, S. C., Stanley, C. R., Blevins, A., Gutknecht, K. F., Partlo, A., Ryan, L., & Lucas, C. (in press). Evidence from children with autism that derived relational responding is a generalized operant. Behavior Analysis in Practice.   
  • Hofmann, S. G., Curtiss, J. E., & Hayes, S. C. (in press; 2020). Beyond linear mediation: Toward a dynamic network approach to study treatment processes. Clinical Psychological Science. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2020.101824
  • Hayes, S. C. (2020). Constructing a liberated and modern mind: Six pathways from pathology to euthymia. World Psychiatry, 19, 51-52. Doi:10.1002/wps.20715.
  • 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. Doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.11.005
  • 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. Doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.07.003. 
  • Hayes, S. C. (2019). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Towards a unified model of behavior change. World Psychiatry, 18 (2), 226-227. Doi: 10.1002/wps.20626 
  • 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. DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2018.1557773
  • Hayes, S. C., & Hofmann, S. G. (2019). Focusing on the correct level of analysis in process-based therapy. Clinical Psychological Science, 7, 189-190. Doi: 10.1177/2167702618818433.
  • Hofmann, S. G. & Hayes, S. C. (2019). The future of intervention science: Process based therapy. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(1), 37–50. Doi: 10.1177/2167702618772296
  • 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. Doi: 10.1177/2167702618805513
  • 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. Doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2018.10.005
  • 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. Doi: 10.1177/0145445518782402 
  • Long, D. M. & Hayes, S. C. (2018). Development of an ACT prototype for therapeutic skill assessment. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 9, 63-71. Doi: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2018.06.008 
  • 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. Doi: 10.1111/cpsp.12259 
  • 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. Doi: 10.1037/adb0000372.
  • 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. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02350. 
  • 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. Doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.016 
  • 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. doi:10.1002/wps.20442
  • 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. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2017.01.002 
  • 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. 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 randomised 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
  • 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. 
  • Hayes, S. C., Zettle, R. D., Barnes-Holmes, D., & Biglan, A. (2016). Examining the partially completed crossword puzzle: The nature and status of contextual behavioral science. Chapter in R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, T. Biglan, & D. Barnes-Holmes. (Eds.) The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 1 – 7). Chichester, UK: Wiley/Blackwell.
  • Biglan, A. & Hayes, S. C. (2016). Functional contextualism and contextual behavioral science. Chapter in R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, T. Biglan, & D. Barnes-Holmes. (Eds.) The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 37 – 61). Chichester, UK: Wiley/Blackwell.
  • Biglan, A., Zettle, R. D., Hayes, S. C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2016). The future of the human sciences and society. Chapter in R. D. Zettle, S. C. Hayes, T. Biglan, & D. Barnes-Holmes. (Eds.) The Wiley handbook of contextual behavioral science (pp. 37 – 61). Chichester, UK: Wiley/Blackwell.
  • 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 defusion 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
  • Minami, H. Bloom, E. L., Palm Reed, K. M., Hayes, S. C., Brown, R. A. (2015). The moderating role of experiential avoidance in the relationships between internal distress and smoking behavior during a quit attempt. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29, 400-407. doi: 10.1037/adb0000030 
  • Hayes, S. C., Sanford, B. T., & Feeney, T. (2015). Using the functional and contextual approach of modern evolution science to direct thinking about psychopathology. The Behavior Therapist, 38, 222-227. 
  • 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 
  • Levin, M.E., Pistorello, J., Hayes, S.C., Seeley, J.R. & Levin, C. (2015). Feasibility of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy adjunctive web-based program for counseling centers. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62, 529-536.

Professional Certifications

Licensed Psychologist, Nevada, License #185