Donald Meichenbaum, PhD developed cognitive behavioral modification and is known for his role in the development of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and for his contributions to the treatment of posttraumatic stress.

Professional Life

Meichenbaum earned a BA from City College of New York in 1962 and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois in 1966. He began teaching as an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario the same year and remained there for over 30 years.

His work in the field of cognitive psychology led to his development of cognitive behavioral modification and the 1977 publication, Cognitive Behavior Modification: An Integrative Approach, which is considered a classic text in the field. The CBM approach contributed significantly to development of CBT, which is currently one of the most widely used therapy modalities.

In addition to cognitive psychology, Meichenbaum has studied anger, posttraumatic stress, and education. He is considered to be an expert in the treatment of PTSD and has presented workshops on PTSD in several parts of the world. Before his retirement from the University of Waterloo in 1998, he was the most-cited researcher in his field at a Canadian university, and a 1991 survey found him to be one of the 10 most influential North American therapists of the 20th century.

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Contribution to Psychology

Meichenbaum’s research was instrumental in the development of CBT. He also pioneered self-instructional training, an evidence-based treatment designed to help individuals modify behavior. This method is typically used as part of a cognitive behavioral approach, and his research helped changed the way mental health care professionals and researchers view depression and other mental health conditions. Another notable contribution, stress inoculation training, helped him achieve recognition as a leader in the treatment of PTSD.

In 1996, Meichenbaum helped found The Melissa Institute, a non-profit organization that aims to build safer communities and prevent violence through the use of education, research, and community service, and he is still maintains his position as research director of the Institute. 

Notable Works

Among Meichenbaum’s many publications are:

He has also published a number of book chapters and journal articles, and many of his research papers can be found in The Melissa Institute’s online resource section.


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