Psychotherapy as a Problem of Designing Control in Self-Organizing and Game-Playing Systems

  • Peter Van Der Doef
Part of the Annals of Systems Research book series (ASRE, volume 7)


In this article a body of arguments is presented that centre around two themes:
  1. 1.

    Model thinking in psychology differs functionally from theory-oriented thinking.

  2. 2.

    System thinking is needed for obtaining insight into the nature of some problems of control in psychotherapy.


It is argued that psychotherapy can be thought of as a way of knowing how to design systems for therapeutic actions which are appropriate to system developments that are taking place in relation to the client’s system; and that the nature of self-organizing systems often requires a system analysis on different levels before attempts can be made to control such systems.

It is further argued that therapeutic processes, like games, can be seen as paradoxical in nature and that control in a therapeutic situation will consist of framing the interaction in such a way that the situation is experienced like a play or game, the rules of which are subject to change.

The implications of these arguments for simulation of therapeutic processes are briefly discussed in the light of two examples of this method.


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Copyright information

© H. E. Stenfert Kroese B.V./Leiden - The Netherlands 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Van Der Doef

There are no affiliations available

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