College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Ida Salusky, PhD

Second Advisor

Megan Greeson, PhD

Third Advisor

Mona Shattell, PhD


Though mental health care providers’ primary function is to facilitate improved outcomes for their clients, providers who have stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness can compromise therapeutic outcomes for those living with mental disorders. The therapeutic relationship is the component of care most closely tied to therapeutic outcomes, and this relationship is often jeopardized by provider stigma. Training and mid-career interventions to reduce stigma by enhancing provider empathy for persons with mental illness show varying levels of effectiveness and a majority of these use lecture based instruction. Interventions that engage mental health providers in the experience of persons with mental health (such as role-playing, photovoice, and positive contact with persons who have mental health issues) have shown to be more effective at enhancing provider empathy. Computer games have also been designed and tested for this purpose, and offer significant promise in enhancing empathy through their immersive nature and consistent feedback. This study applies secondary analysis to qualitative interviews with mental health providers who have played the empathy-enhancing games FLUCTuation, Into Darkness, It’s for the Best, and Perfection in order to better understand their experiences and emotional and cognitive responses to the gameplay, as well as their reactions regarding the utility of these games.

SLP Collection