A Mixed-Method Comparison of Therapist and Client Language across Four Therapeutic Approaches

Han Qiu, Dennis Tay

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper illustrates a methodological approach that combines computerized text analysis, quantitative analysis, and qualitative discourse analysis in comparing large bodies of therapeutic language. More specifically, it explores how language use in psychotherapy is associated with different therapeutic approaches and therapeutic roles (i.e., therapists and clients). The dataset consisted of 155 therapeutic sessions (over 1,057,000 words) that are illustrative of four approaches, i.e., psychoanalysis, humanistic therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and eclectic therapy. The transcripts were divided according to therapeutic approaches and therapeutic roles and processed using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) in terms of four summary variables, i.e., analytical thinking, clout, emotional tones, and authenticity. A series of mixed-effects models with session as the random effect was fitted, and the statistical patterns were illustrated using linguistic examples and discussed from a discourse analytic perspective. The approach demonstrates methodological strengths in exploring large-scale data and expanding the research scope permitted by traditional discourse analysis. The findings underline professional knowledge and institutionalized roles as key factors influencing the use of therapeutic language, providing meaningful insights for the clinical understanding and future research into therapeutic language.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Constructivist Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • linguistic features
  • LIWC analysis
  • therapeutic approaches
  • therapist and client language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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