Professor Dermot Barnes-Holmes

Professor of Psychology

School of Psychology

Coleraine campus

Room H247,
Cromore Road,
Co. Londonderry,
BT52 1SA,

Psychology Research

Professor of Psychology

Professor Dermot Barnes-Holmes


  • Professor of Psychology
  • Course Director for the Masters by Research (MRes)
  • D.Phil. (Psychology) Ulster University, Coleraine, Northern Ireland (1987-1990)
  • CNAA Certificate in Further and Adult Education, Garnett College (later merged with Greenwich University), London, UK (1986–1987)
  • B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology, Ulster University Coleraine, Northern Ireland (1982-1985)

Research Focus

Behavior Analysis; Clinical Behavior Analysis; Behavior Therapy; Relational Frame Theory; Experimental Psychopathology

Research Interests

Professor Barnes-Holmes’ first tenured position was in the Department of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, where he founded and led the Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Science research unit. In 1999 he accepted the foundation professorship in psychology and head-of-department position at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He was ranked the world's most prolific author in the experimental analysis of human behaviour between the years 1980 and 1999. Professor Barnes-Holmes is known internationally for the analysis of human language and cognition through the development of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) with Steven C. Hayes, and its application in various psychological settings. Heco-edited the seminal text on RFT and co-authored 12 of its 13 chapters; the volume has been cited over 4400 times with individual chapters cited 100s of times. In 2015 he accepted a senior professorship at Ghent University in Belgium as part of an Odysseus Type 1 research award worth over 2 million euro from the Flemish Science Foundation in Belgium. In 2020 he returned to his alma mater as a full professor at Ulster University. According to Google Scholar Professor Barnes-Holmes work has over 29,000 citations; h-index = 90; i10-index = 322 (20 July 2023).

Research Awards

In 2012 Professor Barnes-Holmeswasthe first non-USA based researcher to win the ABA International Don Hake Translational Research Award from the American Psychological Association; previously titled the Don-Hake Basic/Applied Research Award, it has been awarded annually for over 40 years.

In 2014 Professor Barnes-Holmes was also granted an Odysseus Group I award by Flanders Research Foundation (2015-2020), designed for researchers who are internationally recognised as pioneers in their field. The award is combined with a permanent position at a Flemish university and sufficient project funding to establish a research team. He was the sole recipient of a Group 1 award in 2014. The research programme was entitled: Toward a Relational Frame Theory Account of Human Psychopathology within a Functional-Cognitive Framework.

In 2015 Professor Barnes-Holmes wasthe twenty-sixth recipient of the Quad-L Annual Lecture Award, given to a distinguished contemporary scientist actively engaged in research in some facet of learning/memory/cognition; elected by the faculty and graduate students at the University of New Mexico Psychology Department.

In 2024 Professor Barnes-Holmes will receive the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) award for the International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis. In selecting him for the award the SABA board noted “the incredible impact you have had on the field of behavior analysis” and that “relational frame theory has become a cornerstone of our science thanks in large part to your dedication and work.”

Discipline & Research Leadership Positions

1996: Founded and led the Behaviour Analysis and Cognitive Science (BACS) Unit in the Department of Applied Psychology at University College Cork.

1999: Appointed foundation Professor and Head of Department of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth. Responsible for establishing and developing the new Psychology Department at NUI, Maynooth.

2007-08: President of the Association for Contextual Behavior Science.

2012: Awarded Fellowship status by the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

2016 Awarded Fellowship status of the Association for Behavior Analysis: International.

Professor Barnes-Holmes has served on, or is currently serving on, the editorial boards of all of the main journals in behavior analysis, including: Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior; Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis; The Behavior Analyst; The European Journal of Behavior Analysis; Journal for Contextual Behavioral Science. I have also served on (or currently serving on) the editorial boards of, The European Journal of Psychology; The International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy (Associate Editor); The Psychological Record.


Brief Summary of Previous Teaching Experience

Undergraduate: Experimental Psychology and Research Methods; Learning and Comparative Psychology; Cognitive Psychology; Social Psychology; Developmental Psychology; Philosophical Issues in Psychology; Abnormal Psychology; Educational Psychology; Biological Psychology.

Postgraduate: Various modules taught on Masters in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (UCC) and Masters in Behavior and Cognitive Therapies (NUIM); Supervisor for a range of Masters level applied research projects; Various modules taught on MSc/Doctorate in Behaviour Analysis and Therapy (NUIM) and supervision of doctoral level applied research projects; Elective module on behaviour analysis and therapy in the Masters programme in clinical psychology at Ghent University.

Current Teaching

Course Director for, and teaching on, the Masters in Research (MRes), and module coordinator for its three core modules; PSY860, PSY861 and PSY862.

Also teaching on two modules of the MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis; Scientific Principles of Behaviour Analysis (PSY838; Semester 1) and Ethical and Legal Considerations in Applied Behaviour Analysis (PSY839; Semester 2).

Research Supervision

Professor Barnes-Holmes has been responsible for supervising 40+ doctoral level research programmes between 1993-2020, and for mentoring various post-doctoral researchers during his time at NUI, Maynooth and Ghent University.

Most recently he supervised a team of four post-doctoral researchers, four PhD students and a number of Masters-level students as part of the Odysseus research programme conducted at Ghent University from 2015-2020.

Current PhD students

Primary Supervisor

  • 2021-2024: Rodrigo De Almeida
  • 2022-2025: Nadine Hempkin
  • 2023-2026: Amanda Gilmore
  • 2023-2026: Breanna Lee

Secondary Supervisor

  • 2021-2024: Jason Logan

Recently Graduated PhD Students

Before returning to Ulster University, Professor Barnes-Holmes supervised the following four students who graduated successfully with their PhDs from Ghent University:

  • 2015-19: Colin Harte
  • 2015-19: Deirdre Kavanagh
  • 2015-19: Aileen Leech
  • 2015-20: Martin Finn

Administrative Roles and Memberships

Professor Barnes-Holmes served on the (Irish) Health Research Board from 2002-2005 (appointed by the Irish Minister for Health) and was elected to the Council of the Psychological Society of Ireland from 2004-2007. He also served as the President of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science 2007-08.

Personal Information

Music - all forms but particularly partial to Heavy Metal/Rock, Funk and Rap. Playing the Bass guitar but very badly! Also fanatical about Chelsea FC because I grew up near Stamford Bridge.

Upcoming International Meetings

Professor Barnes-Holmes will be attending the 50th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International in Philadelphia (May 2024), at which he will receive the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) award for the International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis.

He recently accepted an invitation to present a number of workshops, and participate in various colloquia, on recent development in relational frame theory in Brazil in July 2024.

He has also accepted an invitation to present his work on language and symbolic behaviour at a specialty conference on Theory and Philosophy in Chicago (October 2024), organized by the Association for Behavior Analysis International in Chicago.