Time series analysis of discourse: A case study of metaphor in psychotherapy sessions

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Time series analysis (TSA) is a technique to describe the structure and forecast values of a particular variable based on a series of sequential observations. While commonly used in finance and engineering to understand structural changes across time, its applicability to humanistic processes like discourse is less clear. This article demonstrates the feasibility and complementary use of TSA with a case study of metaphor use in psychotherapy sessions. A conceptual sketch of how TSA components (trends, seasons, cycles and irregular fluctuations) relate to discourse components is followed by a step-by-step analysis of two therapist–client dyads. Each dyad is shown to be adequately described by a different model, and the key characteristics of the models are interpreted alongside prior qualitative analysis of the dyads, shedding new light on their structural properties and attendant implications. Limitations of the present analysis and future research directions are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-710
Number of pages17
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Discourse structure
  • metaphor
  • psychotherapy
  • time series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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