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Systems Theory in Action


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Preface xi 1 Introduction to Systems Thinking 1 2 Context 13 3 Causality 33 4 Communication 49 5 Change 67 6 Structure 85 7 History and Development 103 8 Social and Cultural Narratives 117 9 Applications to Theory, Research, and Organizations 131 References 147 Author Index 153 Subject Index 157

About the Author

Shelly Smith-Acuna, PhD, is the Director of the Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver. She teaches systems theory, family therapy, and couples therapy. In addition, she maintains a successful private practice.


Smith-Acun?a illuminates the structural hierarchy, roles and boundaries that give a system structure. The relationship between parts and wholes is both simple and profound, and particularly important in looking at systems structure. These morsels of wisdom are good examples of Smith-Acun?a?s grace as a systems theory tour guide: one moment she?s digging deeper into the nuances among the theories, the next moment she?s simplifying without dumbing down, but in a manner which is enormously liberating. We enjoy the fun, full and informed journey with her. Frank S. Pittman, III, MD Author of Turning Points, Private Lies, Man Enough, and Grow Up!

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