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Recursive frame analysis

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Bradford Keeney developed Recursive Frame Analysis (RFA) as a qualitative research method for discerning patterns in therapeutic conversation. It is a method he describes as “scoring” conversations, much as one would a song.[1] Through RFA “…Keeney derived a series of distinctions which would allow therapists and researchers to describe interactional patterns in therapeutic discourse and to guide their practice in therapy.”[2] RFA has been used in numerous dissertations and research studies. It is currently being used to demonstrate the different ways one can analyze conversation in a wide variety of conversational settings, including couples and family interaction, counseling, political diplomacy, and doctor-patient discourse.


  1. Keeney, B. (1991). Improvisational therapy: A practical guide for creative clinical strategies. New York: The Guilford Press.
  2. Chenail, R.J. (Winter/Spring 1990/1991). Bradford Keeney's Cybernetic Project and the Creation of Recursive Frame Analysis. The Qualitative Report, 1(2&3). Retrieved October 18, 2008 from

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