| Saturday, 15 January 2005: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM|
|Hibiscus B (Hyatt Regency Miami)|
|Nonlinear Dynamic Change and Its Measurement: A Research Agenda for Practice|
|Roundtable/Workshop Submitter(s):||Andrea Doyle, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Washington|
The real world problems of social work are complex and dynamic. Change processes are also complex, requiring methods for both clinical and research application that reflect that complexity. Chaos theory and its associated mathematical tools for analysis offer ways to analyze complex change. Social scientists have done very little work in the scientific paradigm of chaos theory. A major part of this workshop will be a review of nonlinear dynamic methods as they apply to social work practice. Case study method and Fourier analysis of time series data as examples will be introduced as a way to model dynamic processes. As evidence-seeking researchers, we spend a great deal of effort documenting outcomes, that is, the “what” of intervention, rather than on the “how” of process. Process research is messy and expensive, complex and dynamic. While outcome research is important, outcome and process research are not mutually exclusive goals. Outcome and process research carried out in tandem would lead to a more integrated approach to social work research and practice. Much of the progress made by outcome researchers can be applied in conjunction with process research. The lion’s share of research emphasis has lain however in outcome studies even though process research is critical to the understanding of how systems change which in turn is the critical foundation for all interventive work. Patterns, in contrast to causal box and arrow diagrams, are the objects of study in and consistent with a process-oriented approach (Gottman, 1995). This shift to considering patterns and ”phase paradigms holds great promise for unraveling the sequential dependencies and multidimensionality of process” (Marmar, 1990, p. 6). Sophisticated reconstruction of a particular treatment process becomes possible with the identification of critical events as recurring patterns (Pinsof, 1986). The proposed workshop addresses a decades old call for the “need to develop nonlinear structural or field models of causality better fitted to the interactional and sequential complexities of psychotherapy” (Russell and Trull, 1986, p. 17). In reviewing the modeling of sequential process, this workshop locates itself within Abbot’s (1992) “narrative positivism” and proffers a dialectical solution to positivist – deconstructionist polarities. It also picks up the thread of Hollis inspired research on communication processes in social work practice (for review, see Fortune, A.E. (1981)). Finally, it adds to and extends a small but growing knowledge base on sequential analyses and chaos (cf. Abbot & Hrycak, 1990; Uehara et al., 2001). Being able to describe patterns and sequential process is of relevance to the field of social work practice research in that there is a need to unpack the “black box” of clinical process. Major developments in this field will be reviewed. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to deconstruct existing linear paradigms and enter the nonlinear one. Issues of validity and reliability will be discussed. User friendly graphical methods and computer programs will be introduced. Additional visual aids (eg., catastrophe machine) will be used to demonstrate the dynamic nature of these methods.
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