2014-10-02Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01089
Self-organization in psychotherapy: testing the synergetic model of change processes
In recent years, models have been developed that conceive psychotherapy as a self-organizing process of bio-psycho-social systems. These models originate from the theory of self-organization (Synergetics), from the theory of deterministic chaos, or from the approach of self-organized criticality. This process-outcome study examines several hypotheses mainly derived from Synergetics, including the assumption of discontinuous changes in psychotherapy (instead of linear incremental gains), the occurrence of critical instabilities in temporal proximity of pattern transitions, the hypothesis of necessary stable boundary conditions during destabilization processes, and of motivation to change playing the role of a control parameter for psychotherapeutic self-organization. Our study was realized at a day treatment center; 23 patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) were included. Client self-assessment was performed by an Internet-based process monitoring (referred to as the Synergetic Navigation System), whereby daily ratings were recorded through administering the Therapy Process Questionnaire (TPQ). The process measures of the study were extracted from the subscale dynamics (including the dynamic complexity of their time series) of the TPQ. The outcome criterion was measured by the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) which was completed pre-post and on a bi-weekly schedule by all patients. A second outcome criterion was based on the symptom severity subscale of the TPQ. Results supported the hypothesis of discontinuous changes (pattern transitions), the occurrence of critical instabilities preparing pattern transitions, and of stable boundary conditions as prerequisites for such transitions, but not the assumption of motivation to change as a control parameter.
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