headshot photo of Dr. David Pincus

Dr. David Pincus

Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences; Psychology
Expertise: Complex Adaptive Systems; Chaos Theory; Guided Imagery; Psychotherapy; Nonlinear Dynamics; Resilience
Office Location: Crean Hall Crean Hall 111
Office Hours: Spring 2020: T 1:30 – 2:30 PM, TH 3:45 – 4:45 pm
Phone: (714) 744-7917
Pitzer College, Bachelor of Arts
Marquette University, Master of Science
Marquette University, Ph.D.

Video Profile


Dr. Pincus obtained his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin. His internship and post-doctoral clinical training was completed in community mental health settings, including a post-doctoral fellowship through The UC Davis Department of Psychiatry in Child Psychology. Dr. Pincus spent a number of years prior to his graduate training (more than 13,000 supervised clinical hours in total pre and post-doctoral experience) working with adults, children and families in various community based agencies.

Professional Memberships

  • President of Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences (2011-2013)
  • Member of American Psychological Association and Division 38 (Health Psychology)
  • Member of Association for Psychological Science
  • Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences (secretary 2004-2005)
  • American Psychological Association
  • Orange County Psychological Association (board member 2005-2007)

Courses Offered

  • Theories of Personality
  • Theories and Techniques of Psychotherapy for Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Children and Adolescents/Child Abuse Reporting
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Practicum Supervision

Research and Scholarship

  • Nonlinear dynamical systems theory in psychotherapy process
  • Family therapy process research
  • Imagery therapy for pain management
  • Behavioral medicine in child health and fitness

During his graduate training, Dr. Pincus developed and began testing an integrated and generic model of family systems, group, and individual therapy process. His theory and methodology are based upon recent updates to general systems theories referred to as nonlinear dynamical systems theory. His research has demonstrated that the dynamics of verbal conversation patterns within families and within therapy groups are similar to patterns observed in other complex systems in nature known as self-organizing systems. These systems include earthquakes, population dynamics, traffic jams, and branching patterns in biological structures (e.g., neurons, plant-life). Flowing from his graduate research, Dr. Pincus has continued to test, expand and refine his model of relationship dynamics.  In addition to understanding the complex dynamics that underlie human relationships, Dr. Pincus has applied nonlinear research to the understanding of biopsychosocial systems involved in areas such as pain and childhood obesity.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Pincus, D. (2020). “Self-organization, human resilience and psychotherapy.” Chapter in edited book: Self-organization, a Paradigm for the Human Sciences. K. Viol, H. Schöller & W. Aichhorn, Eds. Springer: New York.
Pincus, D. (2019). Clinical Psychology at the crossroads: An introduction to the special issue on nonlinear dynamical systems. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 23(1), 1-16.
Pincus, D., Cadsky, O, Berardi, V., Asuncion, C.M., & Wann, K. (2019). Fractal self-structure and psychological resilience. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 23(1), 57-78.
Pincus, D. (2019). Guest Editor. Special issue: Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 23(1), 1-176.
Pincus, D., Kiefer, A. W., & Beyer, J. I. (2017). Nonlinear dynamical systems and humanistic psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 58(3), 343-366.
Taylor-Swanson, L., Wong, A., Pincus, D., Butner, J., Koithan, M., Hahn-Holbrook, J., Wann, K., & Woods, N.F., (2017) “The Dynamics of Stress and Fatigue across Menopause: Attractors, Coupling and Resilience. Menopause, 25(4).
Kemp, A. S., Lenjavi, M. R., Touchette, P. E., Pincus, D., Magnusson, M., & Sandman, C. A. (2016). The self-organization of self-injurious behavior as revealed through temporal pattern analyses. In, M. S. Magnusson, J. K. Burgoon, M. Casarrubea, & D. McNeill (Eds.), Discovering Hidden Temporal Patterns in Behavior and Interactions: T-Pattern Detection and Analysis with THEME. New York: Springer.
Pincus, D., & Sheikh, A. A. (2016). Relieving pain through mental imagery. In L. Davenport (Ed.), Transformative Imagery: Tapping the Source of Personal and Social Change. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Pincus, D. (2016). Experiential balancing therapy: An integrative psychotherapy theory and approach grounded in complex adaptive systems theory. Part II: Assessment, treatment planning, and intervention. Chaos and Complexity Letters, 9(2), 139-166.
Pincus, D. (2015). Experiential balancing therapy: An integrative psychotherapy theory and approach grounded in complex adaptive systems theory. Part I: Theoretical overview and key concepts. Chaos and Complexity Letters, 8(2-3), 179-201.
Pincus, D., Eberle, K., Walder, C.S., Sandman, C.A., Kemp, A.S., & Mabini, C. (2014). The role of self-injury in behavioral flexibility and resilience. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 18(3), 277-298.
Pincus, D. (2013). Toward an integrated view of psychophysiological time – Comment on “Physiolgical Time: A Hypothesis” by West and West. Physics of Life Reviews (10), 227-228.
Pincus, D. & Guastello, S.J. (2012). Complexity science in the future of behavioral medicine. In J. P. Sturmber and C. M. Martin (Eds.), Handbook on Complexity in Health. New York: Springer.
Pincus D., & Walach, H. (eds). (2012). Compexity, Whole Systems Research, and Complementary Therapies - New Concepts and Methods. Forsch Komplementmed (Research in Complementary Medicine), 19 (supplement 1). ISBN 978-3-8055-9966-5.
Sandman, C. A., Kemp, A. S., Mabini, C., Pincus, D., & Magnusson, M. (2012). No pain, no gain: The role of self-injury in the organization of chaotic behavior. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56, 516-526.
Bell, I. R., Koithan, M., & Pincus, D. (2012). Methodological implications of nonlinear dynamical systems models for whole systems of complementary and alternative medicine. Forschende Komplementarmedizin (Research in Complementary Medicine), 19 (supplement 1). DOI: 10.1159/000335183.
Koithan, M., Bell, I., Niemeyer, K., & Pincus, D. (2012). Complex systems science perspective for whole systems of CAM research. Forschende Komplementarmedizin (Research in Complementary Medicine), 19 (supplement 1). DOI: 10.1159/000335181.
Pincus, D. (2012). Self-organizing biopsychosocial dynamics and the patient-healer relationship. Forschende Komplementarmedizin (Research in Complementary Medicine), 19 (supplement 1). DOI: 10.1159/000335186.
Walach, H., & Pincus, D. (2012). Kissing Descartes goodbye. Forschende Komplementarmedizin (Research in Complementary Medicine), 19 (supplement 1)
Pincus, D., & Sheikh, A. A. (2011). David Grove’s metaphors for healing. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 30, 259-288.
Pincus, D., Ortega, D., & Metten, A. (2010). “Orbital decomposition for the comparison of multiple categorical time-series.” In Stephen J. Guastello and Robert Gregson (Eds.), Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences: Real Data. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor and Francis.
Pincus, D. & Metten, A. (2010). Nonlinear dynamics in biopsychosocial resilience. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 14, 353-380.
Pincus, D. & Sheikh, A.A. (2009). Imagery for pain relief: A scientifically grounded guidebook for clinicians. New York: Routledge.
Pincus, D. (2009). Self-organization in psychotherapy. In S.J. Guastello, M. Koopmans, & D. Pincus (Eds.), Chaos and Complexity in Psychology: The Theory of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems.
Guastello, S.J., Koopmans, M., & Pincus, D. (Eds.) (2009). Chaos and complexity in psychology: The theory of nonlinear dynamical systems. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.