About this Research Topic
Although these observations are familiar to clinicians, they have been long neglected by researchers who have endorsed reductionist approaches. This is true because alternative approaches entail epistemological and methodological difficulties. Viewing psychotherapy in terms of field dynamics raises the epistemological issue of downward causality, i.e. the problem of modeling the pars-toto relation yet avoiding the conceptual error of reifying the super-ordered level of explanation. Moreover, the temporal dependency of psychotherapy process makes most traditional strategies of data analysis unsuitable, due to the fact that their validity is grounded in the assumption of independency of observations.
Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) can offer a solution to this impasse. DST has developed in various fields (e.g., physics, biology, as well as perception and cognition), adopting a holistic and temporal approach – that has begun to be applied to psychotherapy research. Some clinical researchers have also started to introduce into the field of psychotherapy research ideas elaborated by theoretical approaches like Embodied Cognition and Enactivism, triggering a rethinking of the clinical exchange by recognizing the embodied nature of psychological and communicational phenomena. The integration of these two paradigms (DST and Embodiment) opens up a promising scenario in the field of psychotherapy research, developing new (profoundly transdisciplinary) theoretical concepts, methodologies, and standards of knowledge. The notion of field dynamics enables us to account for the role played by the communicational context in the regulation of intra-psychological processes, while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of an ontologization of the hierarchy of systemic organization. Moreover, the new embodied-systemic approach implements methodological strategies that can transcend the conventional opposition between idiographic and nomothetic sciences.
The current Research Topic aims at contributing to the development of this promising scenario in psychotherapy research. We encourage theoretical, methodological and empirical papers that can help highlight the heuristic power of this approach to psychotherapy, and that endorse the embodied and field dynamic nature of clinical phenomena.
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