Oct 5, 2019
This week on MIA Radio, we
interview Professor of Psychology Dr. Steven C. Hayes.
Dr. Hayes is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior
Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University
of Nevada. An author of 45 books and over 625 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
Dr. Hayes has been President of several scientific and
professional societies including the Association for Behavioral and
Cognitive Therapy, 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.
Dr. Hayes received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy and was recently
named as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement
In this interview we talk about his recently released book,
A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot
Toward What Matters, which uses the principles of
acceptance and commitment therapy to help readers overcome negative
thoughts and feelings, turn pain into purpose, and build a
- What led Steven to his interest in psychology and, in
particular, behavioral science.
- That his keen interest was to mix an understanding of human
experience with analytical science.
- How he came to be standing on stage in Nevada at a 2016 TEDx
talk, relating his experiences of panic disorder and ‘hitting
- How Steven has dedicated his life to helping people understand
how they can be their whole selves while dealing with their
problems and distress.
- How his book ‘A Liberated Mind’ was in part based on his own
experiences but also presents the voluminous research that
underlies Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
- That ACT is based on the psychological flexibility model and
involved pulling at the threads of cognition and language to
understand the fundamentals.
- How ACT is a combination of acceptance and mindfulness
processes and commitment/behaviour changes, referred to in the book
as ‘pivots’ and ‘turning towards’.
- That ACT allows us to be present with our difficulties in a way
that we can learn from distress without becoming entangled.
- That the book defines six basic processes: defusion, self,
acceptance, presence, values and action.
- How it is important not to believe that we need ‘fixing’ before
we can move on with our lives.
- That acceptance is often seen as giving up or tolerance but is
better viewed as the response to receiving a gift.
- How acceptance opens us up to the validity of our experiences
and can help to achieve a healthy distance from distressing
- How pain, judgement and comparison impact our lives.
- That reliance on medications can mean that we become numb to
experiences that we could learn from if we turned or pivoted
- That the guide to happiness is hidden within our misery.
Steven C Hayes
The Liberated Mind: How to Pivot
Toward What Matters
TEDx Nevada – Psychological
flexibility: How love turns pain into purpose
Acceptance and commitment
therapy and contextual behavioral science: examining the progress
of a distinctive model of behavioral and cognitive therapy
© Mad in America 2019