Our decisions are governed by a balance between prospective instrumental goal-oriented and retrospective habitual learning strategies. This arbitration is relevant dimensionally across psychiatric disorders characterized by compulsive behaviours. The balance can be influenced by stress, working memory, cognitive control and neurochemistry such as dopamine and serotonin, features highly relevant to psychiatric disorders. Neural substrates underlying goal-directed and habit learning including conventional overtraining and devaluation and sequential learning tasks overlap with rodent preclinical models. The concept of model-based learning can be extended to include Pavlovian learning processes. Together these findings highlight a role for model-based learning across psychiatric disorders and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.