David Atkins, PhD

David Atkins, PhD

Personal Statement

​​”Can you recommend a good therapist?” Turns out, that is a very challenging question to answer. Whereas some medical fields have reasonable quality indicators (e.g., procedure complication rates, hospital readmissions), with psychotherapy it is very challenging to measure quality.

My research brings together psychotherapy experts with engineers and computer scientists to develop automated methods for evaluating and promoting high-quality counseling and therapy. To do this we rely on speech signal processing and machine learning methodologies and then present it to clinicians and patients using interactive visual summaries.


PhD, Clinical Psychology , University of Washington , 1997-2003
MA, Psychology , Stanford University , 1994-1995
BA, Psychology , Stanford University , 1990-1994

Department Affiliations

Teaching Philosophy



My work focuses on technology-augmented psychotherapy and behavioral interventions, where we use machine learning and user-centered design to provide fast, objective, performance-based feedback to clinicians to assist training, supervision, and quality monitoring. More generally, I’m interested in data science applications in Psychiatry and assist colleagues in designing studies and analyzing data.

Recent Publications

Couple-based communication intervention for head and neck cancer: a randomized pilot trial.
(2020 Oct 26)
Support Care Cancer
Gremore TM, Brockstein B, Porter LS, Brenner S, Benfield T, Baucom DH, Sher TG, Atkins D

Accelerating implementation of research in Learning Health Systems: Lessons learned from VA Health Services Research and NCATS Clinical Science Translation Award programs.
(2020 Mar 17)
J Clin Transl Sci 4(3): 195-200
Kilbourne AM, Jones PL, Atkins D

Machine learning and natural language processing in psychotherapy research: Alliance as example use case.
(2020 Jul)
J Couns Psychol 67(4): 438-448
Goldberg SB, Flemotomos N, Martinez VR, Tanana MJ, Kuo PB, Pace BT, Villatte JL, Georgiou PG, Van Epps J, Imel ZE, Narayanan SS, Atkins DC

Coregulation of therapist and client emotion during psychotherapy.
(2020 Jun)
Psychother Res 30(5): 591-603
Soma CS, Baucom BRW, Xiao B, Butner JE, Hilpert P, Narayanan S, Atkins DC, Imel ZE

Can a computer detect interpersonal skills? Using machine learning to scale up the Facilitative Interpersonal Skills task.
(2020 Mar 16)
Psychother Res
Goldberg SB, Tanana M, Imel ZE, Atkins DC, Hill CE, Anderson T

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