Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Nickola W. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Lagerwey

Third Advisor

Dr. Tami Howe


Aphasia, flow, experience sampling method, speech therapy, social psychology


Flow has been described as positive experiences of intense concentration, distorted time passage, and loss of self-consciousness. While flow has been reported for multiple populations in various settings, it has not been studied among individuals with aphasia. The purpose of this three paper dissertation is to examine flow experiences among individuals with mild aphasia, including environmental and personal factors associated with flow. Advocates of life participation approaches to aphasia stress the importance of interventions that support full engagement in life. Research on flow experiences and related environmental and personal factors may foster improved service delivery and outcomes for this population.

In Study One, eight participants at a weekend aphasia camp completed the Short Flow State Scale – 2 and ranked activities based on self-perceived flow experiences at the camp. Results of Wilcoxon-signed rank and paired t-tests indicate high perceptions of flow and stability of flow across ratings and ranking over the course of a weekend. In Study Two, the Experience Sampling Method was used to prompt nine participants to provide ratings of skill, challenge and environmental and personal factors associated with flow (defined operationally as high skill and high challenge ratings based on z-scores calculated within individuals). They used the FlowAphasia application for iOS, designed specifically for this study. Participant ratings met definitions for the quadrant experiences: apathy (31.6%), flow (27.3%), boredom (23%), and anxiety (18.1%). For Study Three, semi-structured interviews were completed with participants from Study Two and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results indicate that participants experienced flow. Environmental factors that functioned as barriers to flow were coded as Mismatch of Demands, Task Characteristics, Other People, Physical Environments, and Non-stroke Related. Environmental factors that functioned as facilitators were coded as Task Characteristics, Other People, and Physical Environment. Personal factors identified as hindrances of flow included Avoidance, Emotional State, and Non-stroke Related. Personal factors identified as supports of flow included Strategic Management, Goal-directed Characteristics, Gaining Perspective, and Motivation to Help. Additionally, traits of the autotelic personality were observed in some participants. Implications and directions for future study are discussed in this dissertation.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access