Steven C. Hayes

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Steven C. Hayes (born 1948)[1] is Nevada Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is known for an analysis of human language and cognition (Relational Frame Theory), and its application to various psychological difficulties (his work on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy).


Steven Hayes is a widely respected scientist and author. Time columnist John Cloud wrote in a 2006 article: "Steven Hayes is at the top of his field. A past president of the distinguished Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, he has written or co-written some 300 peer-reviewed articles and 27 books. Few psychologists are so well published."

Hayes' work is somewhat controversial to some and in 2006 was the subject of the above-referenced article in Time magazine,.[1] His popular book Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life, rose to #20 on the list of all books in early 2006, and became the #1 self-help book in the US for a month, for a time outselling "Harry Potter" on Amazon.

What seems to be most controversial, at least in the popular media (as is shown by the title of the piece in Time: "Happiness Isn't Normal"), is his claim that some level of pain or discomfort is ubiquitous (a notion quite foreign to a hedonicly-oriented Western mindset) and dominantly linked to normal language processes rather than an abnormality. This has in particular placed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy somewhat at odds with mainstream Cognitive Behavior Therapy and empirical clinical psychology, despite the fact that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of behavioral and cognitive therapy.

A number of similar methods have recently emerged in cognitive behavior therapy, however, including Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, suggesting that there is an ongoing struggle between traditional and new methods (Hayes, 2004). There are indications that these differences are narrowing over time as support for the key role of psychological flexibility is found in traditional cognitive behavior therapy, and as acceptance, mindfulness, and values enter into mainstream CBT (Hayes et al., 2011),

Hayes has been President of Division 25 of the American Psychological Association, of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (now known as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies), and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. He was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the American Psychological Society (now known as the Association for Psychological Science), which he helped form. An author of 38 books and 550 articles, in 1992 he was listed by the Institute for Scientific Information as the 30th "highest impact" psychologist in the world during 1986-1990 based on the citation impact of his writings during that period.

He has been married three times and has four children.

Selected works


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cloud, John (13 February 2006). "The third wave of therapy". Time Magazine. Retrieved 16 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Alternate title: Happiness isn't normal.

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