E’ un’analisi che permette di individuare e classificare sia le polarità semantiche sia i positioning dei vari partner conversazionali entro le polarità. Inizialmente sviluppata per analizzare trascritti e video di sedute psicoterapeutiche individuali, di coppia e familiari, può essere applicata anche a altri tipi di conversazioni e a testi letterari e film.

Two types of semantic polarities  – narrated (NSPs) and interactive (ISPs) – are identified and classified thanks to this analysis. The NSPs are semantic oppositions within which partners define themselves, their significant others, their relationships, and the emotions they experience during the conversation. These polarities construct the narrated story. The latter may be very different from the lived story which each partner  expresses when interacting. The ISPs are semantic oppositions inferred by the mutual positioning expressed by conversational partners, between each other and with the therapist. They answer the questions:  How does each partner take a position with her/his interlocutors?  And how is she/he positioned by the other conversational partners?  The ISPs are expressed mainly by non-verbal behavior, they deal with what is done instead of what is said. They concern the lived story in therapy which includes the therapist too.


The FAMILY SEMANTICS GRID provides an operational definition of both Narrated Semantic Polarities (NSPs) and Interactive Semantic Polarities (ISPs.)It also contains detailed procedures to identify and classify NSPs and ISPs, as well as to pinpoint the various positionings of the conversational partners.    

There are four versions of this tool presented in four articles

One version makes it possible to identify the Narrated Semantic Polarities (NSPs) in the transcripts of patient-therapist sessions and other dyadic conversations or monologues:  

Ugazio, V., Negri, A., Fellin, L., & Di Pasquale, R. (2009). The Family Semantics Grid (FSG). The narrated polarities. A manual for the semantic analysis of therapeutic conversation and self-narratives.TPM. Testing, Psychometrics and Methodology in Applied Psychology,16(4), 165-192. DOI: 10.4473/TPM.16.4.1

There is an Italian translation of this version

Ugazio, V., Negri, A., Fellin, L., & Di Pasquale,  R. (2011). La griglia delle semantiche familiari(GFS): le polarità narrate. Manuale per l’analisi semantica di conversazioni terapeutiche e self-narrative. In  P. Chianura, L. Chianura, E. Fuxa e S. Mazzoni (a cura di ). Manuale clinicodi terapia familiare. Vol.III. Metodi e strumenti per la valutazione dei processi relazionali. Milano: Angeli.

A subsequent version allows to identifiy and classify Interactive Semantic Polarities (ISPs) in videotaped patient and therapist sessions. Its goal is to identify the interactions in which patient and therapist leave their ascribed roles, thus clearly expressing the meanings they are constructing in their mutual interactions:  

Ugazio, V., Castelli D. (2015). The Semantics Grid of the Dyadic Therapeutic Relationship (SG-DTR). TPM. Testing, Psychometrics and Methodology in Applied Psychology,22(1),135-159. DOI: 10.4473/TPM22.1.8

A version follows that allows to identify and classify Narrated Semantic Polarities (PSNs) in transcripts of couple and family sessions, where there are at least three conversational partners (the couple plus the therapist). This version streamlines and makes the procedure for identifying and classifying the NSPs more reliable also in individual sessions. It is, therefore, preferable to use it also for NSPs in dyadic patient-therapist interactions and in all other two-voice conversations or in literary texts  

Ugazio V. & Guarnieri S. (2017) The Family Semantic Grid II. Narrated polarities in couples. TPM. Testing, Psychometrics and Methodology in Applied Psychology, 24(2) 215-253 DOI: 10.4473/TPM24.2.4

The last version identifies and classifies Interactive Semantic Polarities (ISPs) and the relative positionings of the conversational partners in the video recordings of couple and family psychotherapeutic sessions. These polarities capture better the clinical concept of family semantic polarities than the Narrated Semantic Polarities (NSPs), as I elaborated and discussed in: Ugazio V.(2013) Semantic Polarities and Psychopathologies in the Family. Permitted and Forbidden Stories, New York: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203552384 The identification and classification of these polarities is however more difficult. I, therefore, suggest that the application of this coding system be carried out by family and couple therapists already accustomed to analyzing interactions, or by psychologists trained in non-verbal communication.

Ugazio,V. & Guarnieri S., Sotgiu I. (2018) The Family Semantic Grid (FSG) III. Interactive semantic polarities in couples and families. TPM. Testing, Psychometrics and Methodology in Applied Psychology, 25(3),32- DOI: 104473/TPM25.3.2

This semantic analysis is essentialy qualitative, but it allows a quantification of the collected data.


It has been applied to single case studies, but also to studies with numerous participants (so far with a maximum of 60 participants). However, it is not suitable for studies with large samples, as it is time-consuming. Here are the most significant studies to which the analysis has been applied so far:  

Ugazio, V., Singh R., S. Guarnieri (2022)

The “Arab spring” within an intercultural couple. Does the unmentioned ‘racial difference’ matter? Journal of Family Therapy,44(1), 56– 75.

 Ugazio, V., Guarnieri, S., Anselmi, P., Castelli,D.  e Pandolfi.M. (2021)

La relazione terapeutica con i pazienti con disturbi fobici, ossessivo-compulsivi, alimentari e depressivi: Quali significati prevalgono? Rivista italiana di Costruttivismo, 9,1, 19-46,

Ugazio, V.,  Guarnieri S., Anselmi P., Castelli, D.,  Pandolfi, M. (2020)

The therapeutic relationship with clients with phobic, obsessive-compulsive, eating and depressive disorders: Which meanings prevail? Journal of Constructivist Psychology. To link to this article:

Ugazio V. & Guarnieri S. (2018) A couple in love entangled in enigmatic episodes. A semantic analysis Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,44,3,438-457 DOI: 10.1111/jmft.12321

Ugazio, V., Negri A., & Fellin L. (2017) Libertà, Bontà, Potere e Appartenenza: le semantiche dei disturbi fobici, ossessivo compulsivi, alimentari e dell’umore. Rivista italiana di costruttivismo, 5, 1, Aprile 2017,pp.4-27.

Ugazio, V.& Fellin, L. (2016) Family Semantic Polarities and Positionings. A semantic analysis. In Rober,P. & Borcsa  M. (eds.) Research perspectives in couple therapy: Discursive qualitative methods), Cham: Springer, pp. 125-148. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-23306-2_9.

Ugazio, V., Negri A., & Fellin L. (2015) Freedom, Goodness, Power and Belonging: The Semantics of Phobic, Obsessive- compulsive, Eating, and Mood Disorders. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 28 (4), 293-315 DOI: 10.1080/10720537.2014.951109

We have carried out other studies, the related articles are in preparation.