What is the MATRIX?

The MATRIX is a newly developed research tool that provides meaningful and objective coding of psychotherapy session transcripts. It is particularly suited for capturing the core therapeutic phenomenon with micro-level assessments throughout treatment sessions, while taking into account both the patient and the therapist processes individually, as well as the interaction between them. Thus, it enables to disentangle an amorphic psychodynamic therapy session into its most fundamental building blocks and quantitatively assess them, moment-by-moment.

The algorithmic nature of the MATRIX system makes it perfectly suitable for advanced analysis (e.g., machine-learning analysis), allowing to construct extremely complex relationships between variables which are not defined a-priori. Hence, by integrating a variety of convoluted (and sometimes unpredictable) factors into comprehensive, unified models, The MATRIX is ideal for psychotherapy research.

Why do we need it?

A major aim of psychotherapy research is to characterize the underlying mechanisms of successful interventions. However, this aim is far from being reached, owing to the immense complexity of the therapeutic processes and lack appropriate multi-factor measurements. Thus, psychotherapy research is in a need for a non-dogmatic, multifaceted model that successfully incorporates the knowledge obtained from the many existing theories and empiric findings in the field.


What's our goal?

We believe that our approach could be profoundly useful in understanding the complex interactions within psychotherapy sessions, paving the way for much more efficient and cost-effective treatments. By incorporating clinical and theoretical knowledge with state-of-the-art methodology, the MATRIX Initiative could bring psychotherapy research into contemporary standards.

So, how do we do it?


The coding system of the MATRIX requires no previous experience in the assessment of psychotherapeutic sessions, nor pre-existing knowledge of specific psychoanalytic theory or model. Our coders are trained to use the MATRIX Manual, which defines the procedure by which a session’s transcript is translated into a sequence of codes. First, it uses fixed algorithms to split a session into segments at the length of a statement (typically, a 50-minutes session is fragmented into ~130 fragments). Then, the MATRIX transforms each fragment into sequences of the 3 letters codes. The encoding process is categorical and marks the speaker (patient/therapist), the subject (patient/therapist/dyad) and the nature (potential, content, interrelation) of each fragment.

Want to learn more about the MATRIX coding system?



Machine-learning includes very powerful tools which are particularly useful for accurately classifying data. With the help of our bio-statistics experts and data scientists, we use big-data analysis techniques in order to model processes in psychotherapy. In other words, we are aiming at constructing a series of algorithms able to translate therapeutic processes into putative MATRIX sequences, and most importantly - test these to predict treatment outcome. 



We learn from each and every coded session coming through our lab. Thus, the MATRIX coding system is in constant development. We maintain regular group meetings, where coders openly discuss clinical cases, psychoanalytic theory and argue about any coding disagreements. As we also love to collaborate, we often open the doors to our lab to fellow researchers and clinicians, promoting the integration of experience, data and knowledge. 

Shalvata Mental Health Center
Hod Hasharon, 45100, Israel

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