Change is not always linear: the study of nonlinear and discontinuous patterns of change in psychotherapy.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

The study of discontinuities and nonlinear change has been a fruitful endeavor across the sciences, as these shifts can provide a window into the organization of complex systems and the processes that are associated with transition. A common assumption in psychotherapy research has been that change is gradual and linear. The research designs and statistics used to study change often reflect this assumption, but some recent research reveals other patterns of change. We briefly review relevant literature on dynamical systems theory and on life transition and post-traumatic growth to highlight the significance of nonlinear and discontinuous change across areas of psychology. We describe recent applications of these ideas and methods to the study of change in psychotherapy and encourage their use to complement more traditional clinical trial designs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hayes, AM; Laurenceau, J-P; Feldman, G; Strauss, JL; Cardaciotto, L

Published Date

  • July 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 715 - 723

PubMed ID

  • 17316941

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3163164

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0272-7358

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.cpr.2007.01.008


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States