Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 19, Iss. 3, July, 2015, pp. 269-284
@2015 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Complexity of Primary Care Psychology: Theoretical Foundations

E. H. Smit, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands and University for Humanistic Studies, Utrecht Netherlands
J. J. L. Derksen, Free University Brussels, Belgium and Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands

Abstract: How does primary care psychology deal with organized complexity? Has it escaped Newtonian science? Has it, as Weaver (1991) suggests, found a way to ”manage problems with many interrelated factors that cannot be dealt by statistical techniques”? Computer simulations and mathematical models in psychology are ongoing positive developments in the study of complex systems. However, the theoretical development of complex systems in psychology lags behind these advances. In this article we use complexity science to develop a theory on experienced complexity in the daily practice of primary care psychologists. We briefly answer the ontological question of what we see (from the perspective of primary care psychology) as reality, the epistemological question of what we can know, the methodological question of how to act, and the ethical question of what is good care. Following our empirical study, we conclude that complexity science can describe the experienced complexity of the psychologist and offer room for personalized client-centered care. Complexity science is slowly filling the gap between the dominant reductionist theory and complex daily practice.

Keywords: nonlinear dynamical systems, philosophy, psychology, theory, health care reform