The Magic of the In-Between:

Mental Resilience through Interactive Narrative

What's Mental Resilience?

Mental resilience refers to an individual’s capability to emotionally cope, recover, and adapt through adversity. Opportunities for self-reflection and self-expression facilitate resilience.

What's the Challenge?

Current interactive narrative experiences for mental health may teach helpful concepts, but typically fail to secure deep and long-term connections with their users to promote healthy change.


We gathered feedback from 40 users about our Betwixt app to hear what they thought about the experience. Our qualitative analysis revealed three themes as shown below.

❶ Immersion First; Self-Reflection Follows


Betwixt features calming transitions in and out of the storyworld, and encourages the user to explore their surroundings.

Helping users relax and settle into the story environment first may support greater success with self-reflection and connection with the storyworld.

❷ Collaborative Conversation

Betwixt doesn’t preach or ignore what the user has to say. Instead, it provides opportunities for self-expression, helping users feel comfortable and heard.

It also balances between guiding the user and pushing them to find their own meaning.

Phone Chat Conversation

❸ Healthy Long-Term Engagement

Woman with Dog

Interactive narratives for mental health are typically criticized for not being engaging or helpful enough over the long term. Problems that arise can include users not gaining emotional regulation skills, rejecting the intelligence and support provided by non-player characters, and/or playing with the app to avoid problems in the real world.

Betwixt appears to support regular engagement while helping the user reach their goals.


How to Cite this Project

Harmon, S., Gale, H., & Dermendzhiyska, E. (2021, December). The Magic of the In-Between: Mental Resilience Through Interactive Narrative. In International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (pp. 360-364). Springer, Cham.

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