Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


The ability to train counselors to convey empathy is critical, given the importance of therapist empathic skill level in substance use disorder treatment outcomes (Moyers & Miller, 2013). To date, no studies have examined the efficacy of an online empathy skills training for clinicians, where competency is evaluated using objectively rated standardized client sessions. This study evaluated the acceptability, feasibility, and fit of an online empathy skills training for substance use disorder providers. METHOD: Therapist empathy was measured pre-post training using standardized client actor interviews and evaluated with a global rating yielded by the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity Code 4.2 (Moyers et al., 2003; Moyers et al., 2005; Houck et al., 2013). RESULTS: Empathy skill level significant increased post-training, t(38) = -5.44, p < .001. Participants rated the training to be highly feasible, accessible, and appropriate for counselors. DISCUSSION: This online empathy training workshop proved to be a promising and acceptable way to train a vital interpersonal skill in substance use treatment providers, suggesting that online trainings could be a cost-effective and accessible alternative to in-person trainings. Future research should explore the causal effects of such training by including a control group.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Theresa Moyers

Second Committee Member

Bruce Smith

Third Committee Member

Davood Tofighi



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Psychology Commons