Interview with Prof. Dermot Barnes-Holmes


Prof. Dermot Barnes-Holmes was a Foundation Professor at the Department of Psychology at National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is known for his research in human language and cognition through the development of the Relational Frame Theory (RFT) with Steven C. Hayes, and its applications in various psychological settings. barnes_holmes_pic_edit

What I enjoy most about my job as a researcher … Supervising research students who are passionate about and genuinely interested in their research. Sharing what is often a voyage of intellectual discovery for both the student and me is still, after all these years, by far the most stimulating and enjoyable feature of what I do as an academic.

The biggest challenge in my career so far was … balancing being a new head of department (appointed in 1999) with a pivotal point in my research career (the writing and publication of the seminal text on Relational Frame Theory in 2001).

One research project I will never forget is…  There are at least three that really stand out for me. First, the writing of the 2001 RFT book with Steve Hayes and Bryan Roche, particularly the “crazy” multiple flying visits to Reno to work literally night and day with Steve on initial drafts of the book. Second, the research programme on the relating of derived relations, with Paul Smeets and Ian Stewart, as a model of analogical reasoning (from 1997-2005). And third, the last 10 years that have been devoted to the development of the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP), the Relational Elaboration and Coherence (REC) model, and the emergence from that work of the Multi-Dimensional Multi-Level (MDML) framework for analyzing arbitrarily applicable relational responding.

What I look for in a student who wants to work under my supervision … Simple – an individual who is motivated almost exclusively by the research and very little else.

Student research could be improved by … providing the supports necessary to encourage and sustain genuine creativity in the research process and minimize needless “box-ticking”.

Academically, I most admire … Steve Hayes …  because …. he has been like an intellectual father to me and, well, just look at the guy’s CV!

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career …  It’s okay, you’re on the right track – just sit back and enjoy the ride!

The largest changes in psychological science in the next 10 years will be … a far greater emphasis on how our research activity makes a meaningful difference in the real world (a change I welcome with open arms).

Jonas Haslbeck

Jonas Haslbeck

Jonas is a Senior Editor at the Journal of European Psychology Students. He is currently a PhD student in psychological methods at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For further info see

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