More About the Author
I came to psychology because it was a field that mixed art and science. A college student in California during the 1960s (Loyola Marymount) I was initially interested in experiential, humanistic, human potential, and Eastern traditions, but was also drawn toward behavior therapy by the dialectic of its utopianism (e.g., Walden Two) and its scientific rigor. Fascinated by flooding and implosive therapy, my first undergraduate paper in psychology was on applying exposure to feelings, not just situations. I'm still grinding on that same idea in some ways.
I had a hard time getting into graduate school, and bounced around for a couple years with a new baby, doing remodeling for slum lords, living on a commune, and working as an environmental activist. After a year at San Diego State in a program that admitted all with good test scores, I finally figured out that I had a bad letter from a professor. Correcting that, I was finally admitted several places and went to West Virginia University, where I got my Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1977.
I wanted a psychology of human functioning that could transform how we live in our homes, offices, and clinics on the basis of science. Behavior analysis seemed closest but I came to believe that it would never be adequate without a better analysis of language and cognition.
After an internship year at Brown University, I took my first job, UNC-Greensboro in 1976. I stayed there for 10 years. A few years after I arrived I developed a panic disorder and after a year or two of sliding backward, I began to apply some of these various influences to my own struggles.
My students and I roughed out ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) in the early 1980's, did a few outcome studies, and then put outcome studies on hold wile we developed the basic science (Relational Frame Theory and work on rule-governed behavior), the philosophy of science (functional contextualism), and the techniques, measures, and processes that would become ACT in it modern form. Most of that work I did at the University of Nevada, where I have been since 1986.
In 1999 the first ACT book appeared, followed by the RFT book in 2001, and the work really began to take off, both empirically and in term of notariety. My first popular book, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life (2005), projected the work (and me personally) into a higher level of public visibility (Time, O, Salon.com etc).
I spend my days writing, teaching, researching, helping my students, answering emails, hugging my wife, playing with my new baby, and hanging out with my older kids (14, 17, and 36). I spend a lot of time trying to support the ACT and RFT work of others world wide.
Those interested in ACT and RFT should explore www.contextualpsychology.org There you will find list serves for professionals and an open enrollment "ACT for the Public" list serve that is designed to help public members work with these concepts. There is also a list of ACT therapists worldwide.
Personal Honors and such
In 1992 I was listed by APS as the 30th "highest impact" psychologist in the world during 1986-1990
I've been President of Division 25 (Behavior Analysis) of APA, of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology and of the Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy. I chaired the organizing committee for the APS, was its first Secretary-Treasurer, and first editor of the APS Observer. I received the Hake Award for Exemplary Contributions to Basic Behavioral Research and Its Applications from Division 25 of the APA. In 1999, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala appointed me to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.
What this work is about is creating a scientific psychology more adequate to the challenge of the human condition, and getting it into the hands of others at low cost and with minimal hierarchy. If you care about that work and there is a way I can be of help, let me know.