Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 10, Iss. 2, April, 2006, pp. 275-300
@2006 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Autopoiesis and Nonlinear Modeling Methods: An Empirical Approach to Psychotherapy Process Research

L. Felipe Amunįtegui, Case Western Reserve University
E. Thomas Dowd, Kent State University

Abstract: Psychotherapy process research needs a paradigm capable of integrating activity across biological, affective, linguistic and social domains into one causal model. It also needs a methodology capable of measuring complex deterministic activity spontaneously generated by the therapy participants. Here we articulate a model based on Autopoietic theory and nonlinear quantitative analysis that stands to provide a method and a metric to explore how psychotherapy processes lead to a measurable outcome. Perturbations are the unit of study within the autopoietic framework. Lyapunov exponents are the quantitative tools for the analysis of phase portraits generated by cardiac activity. We propose that these phase portraits can be used to measure the perturbational activity of psychotherapy participants. We buttress this argument with results from a preliminary application of this method in a psychotherapy analogue situation.

Keywords: autopoiesis, perturbations, Lyapunov exponent, ,