Donald Meichenbaum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Donald Meichenbaum
Donald Meichenbaum

June 10, 1940
Alma materCity College of New York (BA), University of Illinois (MA, PhD)
Known forCognitive-behavioural therapy; stress inoculation training
AwardsCPA Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology as a Profession (1990);

CPA Lifetime Achievement Award (1997); APA Clinical Division Lifetime Achievement Award (2000);

Honorary president of the Canadian Psychological Association (2004)
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive-behavioural therapy, Clinical psychology, Developmental psychology

Donald H. Meichenbaum (born June 10, 1940) is an American psychologist and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.[1] He is a research director of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment at the University of Miami.[2] Meichenbaum is known for his research and publications on psychotherapy, and contributed to the development of the technique of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).[3] In 1982, a survey of 800 members of the American Psychological Association voted Meichenbaum the tenth most influential psychotherapist of the 20th century.[4] At the time of his retirement from the University of Waterloo in 1998, Meichenbaum was the most-cited psychology researcher at a Canadian university.[5]


Meichenbaum was educated at William Howard Taft High School in New York City. He then entered the City College of New York in 1958 with the intention of becoming an engineer, before changing course and graduating in 1962 as a psychology major.[6] He was accepted on to the graduate psychology program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.[6] He wrote his dissertation titled How to Train Schizophrenics to Talk to Themselves, having shown an interest in the topic of self-talk since childhood. He graduated with an MA and PhD in clinical psychology with minors in the subjects of developmental psychology and physiology in 1966, working as a research assistant at a Veterans Health Administration hospital in Danville, Illinois alongside his studies.[6]


Meichenbaum became assistant professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo in 1966. During his tenure at Waterloo he began a research program exploring the role of cognitive and emotional factors in the behaviour change process. Several papers and books authored by Meichenbaum during his tenure at Waterloo focused on the use of self-instruction to effect behaviour change, which became a core principle of cognitive-behavioural therapy. Meichenbaum applied this concept to numerous areas of psychotherapy, including post-traumatic stress disorder, impulsivity in school children, test anxiety in college students, and adults with chronic pain, anger, and substance abuse issues.[6][7][8][9] In 1977, Meichenbaum co-founded and served as the associate editor of the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.[10] Meichenbaum's 1985 clinical handbook Stress Inoculation Training is used by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as one treatment for PTSD in veterans.[11] He received the Canadian Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology as a Profession in 1990, receiving their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

Following his retirement from the University of Waterloo in 1998, Meichenbaum joined the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment of Victims as research director, which is based at the University of Miami's School of Education and Development, where Meichenbaum also worked as distinguished visiting professor.[12] In 2012, Meichenbaum published Roadmap to Resilience: A Guide for Military, Trauma Victims and Their Families, a handbook to help service members reintegrate into civilian life and for clinicians translating evidence-based interventions into clinical guidelines for patients.[13] Meichenbaum has been a frequent critic of the proliferation of non-evidence-based techniques in the field of psychotherapy; his 2018 article How to Spot Hype in the Field of Psychotherapy, co-authored with Scott Lilienfeld, was chosen as the "most valuable contribution to the general field of psychotherapy" of that year by the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy which reviewed articles across 81 journals.[14][15]

Role in developing cognitive-behavioural therapy[edit]

While the cognitive revolution in psychology took place in the 1960s, the combination of cognitive and behavioural approaches in clinical psychology did not gain traction until the mid-1970s.[16] Building on Albert Ellis' technique of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) and Aaron T. Beck's technique of cognitive therapy, Meichenbaum developed the therapeutic technique of cognitive-behaviour modification, publishing the 1977 clinical handbook Cognitive Behaviour Modification: An Integrative Approach.[17] Cognitive-behaviour modification is an umbrella term which describes treatments that aim to change overt behaviours by changing thought patterns and cognitive processes. Cognitive-behaviour modification and CBT have been described as "nearly identical in their assumptions and treatment methods", the difference being cognitive-behaviour modification seeks overt behaviour change as a therapeutic outcome while CBT aims to change cognitions in the assumption that behaviour change will follow.[18] In the same 1982 survey that voted Meichenbaum the tenth most influential psychotherapist of the 20th century, Cognitive-Behaviour Modification was voted "the 4th most representative book of the current zeitgeist in counselling and psychotherapy". Meichenbaum developed the techniques of self-instructional training (SIT)[7] and stress inoculation training,[19] which are described as two of the six major cognitive-behavioural therapies in the Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies (4th ed.) (Dobson, 2019).[18] While Ellis and Beck are often cited as the two founders of the basic clinical model of cognitive-behavioural therapy approaches, the model proposed by Meichenbaum was found to occupy the cognitive-behavioural realm with authoritativeness equal to those proposed by Ellis' REBT and Beck's cognitive therapy during the 1970s (alongside models proposed by Arnold Lazarus and Michael J. Mahoney).[3]He also defines spirituality as seeking meaning and direction from a higher power. He notes that helping others signifies trauma recovery, with spirituality aiding forgiveness and empathy, crucial for victims' progress. Meichenbaum emphasizes that while religion or spirituality isn't a cure-all.[20]



  • Cognitive Behaviour Modification: An Integrative Approach (1977)[17]
  • Coping with Stress (1983)[21]
  • Stress Reduction and Prevention (1983)[22]
  • Pain and Behavioral Medicine: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective (1983)[23]
  • Stress Inoculation Training (1985)[19]
  • Facilitating Treatment Adherence. A Practitioner's Guidebook (1987)[24]
  • A Clinical Handbook/Practical Therapist Manual for Assessing and Treating Adults with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (1994)[8]
  • Nurturing Independent Learners: Helping Students Take Charge of Their Learning (1998)[25]
  • Treatment of Individuals with Anger-Control Problems and Aggressive Behaviors: a Clinical Handbook (2001)[26]
  • Roadmap to Resilience: A Guide for Military, Trauma Victims and Their Families (2012)[13]
  • The Evolution of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: A Personal and Professional Journey with Don Meichenbaum (2017)[6]
  • Treating Individuals with Addictive Disorders: A Strengths-Based Workbook for Patients and Clinicians (2020)[9]


Meichenbaum has published extensively in academic journals and conferences. A comprehensive archive of these publications is maintained at the Melissa Institute website.


  1. ^ "Our People - Emeritus | Emerita". University of Waterloo. August 2014. Archived from the original on 2015-09-12. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Scientific Board – The Melissa Institute".
  3. ^ a b Ruggiero, Giovanni M.; Spada, Marcantonio M.; Caselli, Gabriele; Sassaroli, Sandra (2018-12-01). "A Historical and Theoretical Review of Cognitive Behavioral Therapies: From Structural Self-Knowledge to Functional Processes". Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. 36 (4): 378–403. doi:10.1007/s10942-018-0292-8. ISSN 1573-6563. PMC 6208646. PMID 30416258.
  4. ^ Smith, Darrell (1982). "Trends in counseling and psychotherapy". American Psychologist. 37 (7): 802–809. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.37.7.802. ISSN 1935-990X. PMID 7137698.
  5. ^ "Pioneer of cognitive behavioral therapy". University of Waterloo. 5 July 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-04-15. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Meichenbaum, Donald (2017). The evolution of cognitive behavior therapy : a personal and professional journey with Don Meichenbaum. Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 978-1-317-60756-4. OCLC 973222940.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald H.; Goodman, Joseph (1971). "Training impulsive children to talk to themselves: A means of developing self-control". Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 77 (2): 115–126. doi:10.1037/h0030773. ISSN 1939-1846. PMID 5550424.
  8. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald (1994). A clinical handbook/practical therapist manual : for assessing and treating adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Waterloo, Ont., Canada: Institute Press. ISBN 0-9698840-0-1. OCLC 31809208.
  9. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald (2020). Treating individuals with addictive disorders : a strengths-based workbook for patients and clinicians. New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-000-07025-5. OCLC 1156991140.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald (2003-02-01). "Cognitive–Behavior Therapy: Folktales and the Unexpurgated History". Cognitive Therapy and Research. 27 (1): 125–129. doi:10.1023/A:1022546915731. ISSN 1573-2819. S2CID 29133357.
  11. ^ "VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Acute Stress Disorder" (PDF). 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-11-14. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Educational Training – The Melissa Institute". Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  13. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald (2012). Roadmap to resilience : a guide for military, trauma victims, and their families. Clearwater, FL: Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-9698840-2-6. OCLC 798617091.
  14. ^ Overholser, James C. (2019-12-01). ""The Nominees for Best Article …": Awards for the Most Valuable Papers on Psychotherapy in 2018". Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. 49 (4): 273–281. doi:10.1007/s10879-019-09433-8. ISSN 1573-3564. S2CID 175642868.
  15. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald; Lilienfeld, Scott O. (February 2018). "APA PsycNet". Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 49 (1): 22–30. doi:10.1037/pro0000172. S2CID 148807068. Retrieved 2021-07-18.
  16. ^ Mahoney, Michael J. (1977-03-01). "Cognitive therapy and research: A question of questions". Cognitive Therapy and Research. 1 (1): 5–16. doi:10.1007/BF01173501. ISSN 1573-2819. S2CID 24911224.
  17. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald (1977). Cognitive-behavior modification : an integrative approach. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-31013-9. OCLC 2894019.
  18. ^ a b Dobson, K. S.; Dozois, D. J. A. (2019). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (4th ed.). Guilford Press.
  19. ^ a b Meichenbaum, Donald (1985). Stress inoculation training. New York: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-031596-8. OCLC 11623852.
  20. ^ Goldhill, Olivia (2016-01-30). "Psychologists have found that a spiritual outlook makes humans more resilient to trauma". Quartz. Retrieved 2023-08-03.
  21. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald (1983). Coping with stress. Mel Calman, Anne Cope, Christopher Fagg. London: Century Pub. ISBN 0-7126-0083-3. OCLC 16022872.
  22. ^ Stress reduction and prevention. Donald Meichenbaum, Matt E. Jaremko. New York: Plenum Press. 1983. ISBN 0-306-41066-4. OCLC 8928158.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. ^ Turk, Dennis C. (1983). Pain and behavioral medicine : a cognitive-behavioral perspective. Donald Meichenbaum, Myles Genest. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 0-89862-002-3. OCLC 8554039.
  24. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald (1987). Facilitating treatment adherence : a practitioner's guidebook. Dennis C. Turk. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 0-306-42638-2. OCLC 16091704.
  25. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald (1998). Nurturing independent learners : helping students take charge of their learning. Andrew Biemiller. Newton, Mass.: Brookline Books. ISBN 1-57129-047-8. OCLC 38120589.
  26. ^ Meichenbaum, Donald (2001). Treatment of individuals with anger - control problems and aggressive behaviors : a clinical handbook. Clearwater, Fla.: Institute Press. ISBN 0-9698840-1-X. OCLC 48845565.