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

  • Charlene A. Allred
  • Barbara J. Burns
  • Susan D. Phillips


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.


evidence-based practice dissemination mental health systems management systems theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlene A. Allred
    • 1
  • Barbara J. Burns
    • 2
  • Susan D. Phillips
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurham
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of Medicine in DurhamDurham
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University School of MedicineDurham

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