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Front Psychol. 2015 Apr 9;6:379. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00379. eCollection 2015.

Using decision trees to characterize verbal communication during change and stuck episodes in the therapeutic process.

Author information

1
Department of Management Control and Information Systems, Universidad de Chile Santiago, Chile ; Faculty of Economics and Business, Universidad Diego Portales Santiago, Chile.
2
Psychology School, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Santiago, Chile.
3
Faculty of Psychology, Universidad del Desarrollo Santiago, Chile.
4
Department of Management Control and Information Systems, Universidad de Chile Santiago, Chile.

Abstract

Methods are needed for creating models to characterize verbal communication between therapists and their patients that are suitable for teaching purposes without losing analytical potential. A technique meeting these twin requirements is proposed that uses decision trees to identify both change and stuck episodes in therapist-patient communication. Three decision tree algorithms (C4.5, NBTree, and REPTree) are applied to the problem of characterizing verbal responses into change and stuck episodes in the therapeutic process. The data for the problem is derived from a corpus of 8 successful individual therapy sessions with 1760 speaking turns in a psychodynamic context. The decision tree model that performed best was generated by the C4.5 algorithm. It delivered 15 rules characterizing the verbal communication in the two types of episodes. Decision trees are a promising technique for analyzing verbal communication during significant therapy events and have much potential for use in teaching practice on changes in therapeutic communication. The development of pedagogical methods using decision trees can support the transmission of academic knowledge to therapeutic practice.

KEYWORDS:

coding system; counseling; decision trees; pilot teaching method; significant event

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