Categories for classifying language in psychotherapy

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Abstract

A review of language analysis systems employed in psychotherapy research suggests a typology based on the combination of 3 category types with 2 coding strategies. The types are content categories, intersubjective categories, and extralinguistic categories. They are defined by distinct sets of language features. The coding strategies are the classical coding strategy, in which categories describe the text, and the pragmatic coding strategy, in which categories describe the speaker. A review of research results suggests that the content, intersubjective, and extralinguistic features constitute distinct channels of communication and that (a) the content channel carries information pertaining to the speaker's psychodynamic process and personality structure, (b) the intersubjective channel carries information pertaining to the quality of the speaker's relationship with the other, and (c) the extralinguistic channel carries information pertaining to the speaker's transitory emotional state. Three system consistency criteria are suggested for use in conjunction with the typology to evaluate categories and category systems. Recommendations are made for meeting these criteria: categories should be pure types, and categories within a system (or subsystem) should be of the same type. (112 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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