ERIC Number: ED344137
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar-5
Chaos Theory: Implications for Nonlinear Dynamics in Counseling.
Stickel, Sue A.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of chaos theory for counseling. The scientific notion of chaos refers to the tendency of dynamical, nonlinear systems toward irregular, sometimes unpredictable, yet deterministic behavior. Therapists, especially those working from a brief approach, have noted the importance of the client's situation upon entering therapy and that a single therapeutic session can promote substantial changes. The interest of chaos theory for the counselor may lie in its ability to provide metaphors for understanding the complexity of the client's life situation, among them sensitive dependence, turbulence, strange attractors, and iteration. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is the notion that small variances multiply and later magnify to a point of crisis or chaos. Turbulence is a mess of disorder at all scales. Turbulence has implications for the conditions that bring clients to therapy. Entrance into therapy is thus not a random event, but usually occurs in the context of the complex interpersonal and developmental changes within and around an individual. The analogy to chaos is that therapy may begin in the process of the movement from smooth to turbulent flow. In phase space, all that is known about the state of a dynamical system at a single moment can be collapsed to a point. Phase space is composed of as many variables as needed to describe a system's movement. The chaos pattern or strange attractor is the shape of the map that results. Iteration is the simple repeating of a certain function using the previous output as input for the next operation; a feedback loop. A case presentation is used to illustrate the metaphors that chaos may provide for the process of counseling. (LLL)
Publication Type: Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Educational Research Association (Hilton Head, SC, March 3-7, 1992).