How are the ideas of chaos and complexity relevant to our work as therapists?
Chaos and complexity theory are recently developed disciplines that have new and inspiring things to say about process: about how change occurs – or not – and about different types of change: regressive or progressive, sudden or incremental, overwhelming or organic, chaotic or planned.
All of these are fundamental to the therapeutic process, especially when we understand the therapeutic relationship as a relational system. All open systems – from galaxies to human beings to microbes – operate in a dynamic tension between stable equilibrium and evolving change, between established structure and emerging process.
At the boundary between state and process is the edge of chaos, where things are complex and in flux, the full picture unknown and outcomes unpredictable – think of the shapes formed by the turbulences of rising smoke or flowing water, sensitive to the slightest environmental change. The therapeutic process is similar.
Traditional science, and traditional therapy, find it hard to tolerate and operate in this fertile area at the edge of chaos. Complexity theory, however, gives us the tools to thrive there, helping us understand non-linear change and surrender to its participative, unpredictable nature. It also invites us to reflect on our habits as therapists, for instance our own bias towards stability or change, and our capacity to accept risk. And it opens up a rich field of therapeutic spontaneity and creativity: rather than fighting for change or against resistance, we attend to subtle messages of emergent phenomena which are already happening. We do not and cannot know where these phenomena are leading; but we do not need to know as we can have a sense that they express the growing edge of the system we are working with.
The same applies to our idea of this weekend together: we don’t know in advance where it will lead, or what will happen along the way; but we know that it will offer an opportunity to dance at your own growing edges as a person and a therapist, to deepen your own idiosyncratic therapeutic style and find your own way to inhabit the paradox of risk and stability.
Download the leaflet (including booking form)