Identifying Therapist and Client Personae for Therapeutic Alliance Estimation

Victor R. Martinez, Nikolaos Flemotomos, Victor Ardulov, Krishna Somandepalli, Simon B. Goldberg, Zac E. Imel, David C. Atkins, Shrikanth Narayanan


Psychotherapy, from a narrative perspective, is the process in which a client relates an on-going life-story to a therapist. In each session, a client will recount events from their life, some of which stand out as more significant than others. These significant stories can ultimately shape one’s identity. In this work we study these narratives in the context of therapeutic alliance — a self-reported measure on the perception of a shared bond between client and therapist. We propose that alliance can be predicted from the interactions between certain types of clients with types of therapists. To validate this method, we obtained 1235 transcribed sessions with client-reported alliance to train an unsupervised approach to discover groups of therapists and clients based on common types of narrative characters, or personae. We measure the strength of the relation between personae and alliance in two experiments. Our results show that (1) alliance can be explained by the interactions between the discovered character types, and (2) models trained on therapist and client personae achieve significant performance gains compared to competitive supervised baselines. Finally, exploratory analysis reveals important character traits that lead to an improved perception of alliance.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2829

Cite as: Martinez, V.R., Flemotomos, N., Ardulov, V., Somandepalli, K., Goldberg, S.B., Imel, Z.E., Atkins, D.C., Narayanan, S. (2019) Identifying Therapist and Client Personae for Therapeutic Alliance Estimation. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 1901-1905, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2829.


@inproceedings{Martinez2019,
  author={Victor R. Martinez and Nikolaos Flemotomos and Victor Ardulov and Krishna Somandepalli and Simon B. Goldberg and Zac E. Imel and David C. Atkins and Shrikanth Narayanan},
  title={{Identifying Therapist and Client Personae for Therapeutic Alliance Estimation}},
  year=2019,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},
  pages={1901--1905},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2829},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2829}
}