From Combat to Clinical Work: Exploring Veteran Experiences Transitioning from the Military to the Practice of Psychology

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Kimberly A. Gorgens, Ph.D., ABPP-RP

Third Committee Member

Catharine Johnston-Brooks, Ph.D., ABPP-CN


Student service members, Postgraduate psychology programs, Veterans, Service members, Postgraduate, Combat, Clinical work, Military culture, Transitions, Psychology training

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


The focus of this study was to examine the experiences of student service member/ Veterans as they transition into the role of psychology clinician and the effects their military experiences and culture have on that transition. The study assessed this from the perspective of current graduate level psychology students with prior military experience. Specific areas of inquiry included overall demographics, connecting with peers, self disclosure of service, perceptions of stress, use of supervision and consultation, decision making, and lasting effects of personal military combat experiences. Twelve participants completed an online questionnaire that included Likert scale responses and open ended short essay responses. Quantitative analysis used for the demographic and the Likert scale data included frequencies, ranges, and Pearson’s r to test for correlation to determine relationships. Short essay responses were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). There were five overarching themes demonstrated from the data set: 1) Military Culture Effects Connecting, 2) Alienation, 3) Fragmented Identity, 4) Indoctrination Endures, and 5) Strengths from Service. Recommendations for graduate level psychology programs with student service members are discussed as well as directions for future research.


58 pgs

Paper Method

Empirical - Mixed

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