Article

Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 211-220

First online:

The Assertive Community Treatment Team as a Complex Dynamic System of Care

  • Charlene A. AllredAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Barbara J. BurnsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine in Durham
  • , Susan D. PhillipsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine

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Abstract

This paper presents a dynamic systems view of assertive community treatment (ACT), a recognized evidence-based treatment for adults with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI). It is argued that because an ACT team operates as a complex adaptive system (CAS), it engages in the organizational processes of “sensemaking” and self-organization, which help to bring order to the actions of team members and sustainability of the intervention itself. Consequently, successful implementation of ACT requires that management technologies such as meaning-creation and design are used in conjunction with traditional “command and control” technologies of policies, procedures, processes, and structures.

Keywords

evidence-based practice dissemination mental health systems management systems theory