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Albanese, R.A. (1988). An Increased Role for Mathematics in Research and Practice in Psychotherapy. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(2):213-217.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(2):213-217

An Increased Role for Mathematics in Research and Practice in Psychotherapy

Richard A. Albanese

Biomathematics is a discipline which applies mathematics to solve biomedical questions. Several journals, such as the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology and the Journal of Theoretical Biology, publish mathematical models of a broad variety of physiological and biochemical phenomena including topics such as kidney function, heart action, genetic phenomena, and psychological events. I am a medical doctor whose career has been in the field of biomathematics. Some of my work has involved the mathematical modelling of human psychomotor behaviour (Barnwell et al 1973; Albanese 1974; Albanese et al 1974). Starting from this work and prompted further by discussions with my psychiatrist wife, I have recurrently asked over the years whether mathematical structures exist which might model, or serve as analogues to, normal and pathological higher mental functioning. Reading and learning across a spectrum of approaches including Freudian theory, object relations, Rogerian theory and cognitive psychology, I had tentatively concluded that mathematical structures were not currently available for detailed and useful modelling of important elements of psychopathological and psychotherapeutic processes; or, at least, that my mental abilities were not up to the task of such modelling endeavours. Thus, it was with a significant degree of pessimism and scepticism that I first heard Dr Robert Langs' suggestion that the communicative exchange occurring during the psychotherapeutic process might well be modelled using the mathematics of nonlinear systems theory.

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