Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Stephen Wester

Committee Members

Jessica Brundage, Marty Sapp, Marie Sandy


Military, Phenomenology, Psychology, PTSD, Qualitative, Service Dogs


Utilizing psychiatric service dogs for PTSD is a relatively new area of research and treatment option for veterans. This qualitative research study aims to look at the effects of the use of psychiatric service dogs on veterans with PTSD for veterans who have or were previously receiving traditional mental health treatment. The researcher was looking to see: how does day-to-day life look for these veterans, have they noticed a change in PTSD symptoms, what are their views on mental health treatment, and how do they view being in public? 7 veterans, from a variety of conflicts and branches were interviewed to gather information about their day to day life since obtaining their dog. A semi-structured interview was utilized to look at both positive and negative aspects of owning a dog. The interviews were coded and analyzed to look for themes or patterns. These themes were used to postulate potential areas of benefit/drawbacks for these veterans. Overwhelmingly positive results were found with all veterans, and further, recommending the use of service dogs for other veterans with PTSD, if it was thought to be beneficial for that specific veteran.