Counseling Topic Classification System, CTCS, counseling, therapy, coding


The authors developed a measure for categorizing the nature of the topic that clients and therapists discuss from moment to moment during psychotherapy. The Counseling Topic Classification System (CTCS) contains 55 topics and 8 emotional categories. It was used to code the thematic content of Donald Meichenbaum's and Hans Strupp's initial therapy sessions with a client named Richard. Our findings provided preliminary evidence that the CTCS is useful for coding the core topic of initial therapy sessions and that thematic content may be an important process and contextual vari- able. Methods are described for studying thematic content as a contextual variable and for presenting change process and discovery-oriented research findings so that they are more clinically meaningful.

Original Publication Citation

Richards, P. S. & Lonborg, S. D. (1996). Development of a method for studying thematic content of psychotherapy sessions. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 701-711.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor