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Presentation on 'Therapy Texts'

On January 26th, 2021, Mark Algee-Hewitt, Lisa Mendelman, Anna Mukamal and Kendra Terry presented their work on Therapy Texts, a new collaboration between members of the Literary Lab and Adelphi University.

This collaboration combines methods from computational text analysis, literary studies, and clinical psychology to examine the therapeutic encounter as manifest in a variety of texts. In particular, we compare a set of transcribed contemporary psychotherapy sessions to other forms of discourse including 20th- and 21st-century novels and memoirs, podcast interviews, and informal recorded conversation. We are interested in what distinguishes psychotherapeutic discourse from other types of discourse and how analytical protocols from literary studies and digital humanities can be productively applied to psychotherapeutic discourse issuing from a clinical setting. How is language used differently across these types of discourse? How similar are therapeutic encounters portrayed in fictional texts to actual therapy sessions? Which parts of 20th- and 21st-century literature look the most like therapy sessions? We approach these questions using a variety of computational tools, including topic models, most distinctive words, and sentiment analysis with a particular focus on parts of speech, words of temporal space, and features sets that allow us to model the language of the therapeutic encounter in literary spaces.