School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


William Bird


Veteran's Experiences with Therapy for War Trauma, Moral Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder




Military veterans frequently return from combat with a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The debilitating disorder is often caused by experiencing trauma caused by war related distressing events. There are various clinical treatment modalities offered to help PTSD injured veterans. Despite numerous options, however, many military personnel receive little or no clinical relief after attending counseling. Moral Injury (MI) is often the underlying culprit, yet due to a lack of clinical clarity and understanding about the MI paradigm, many therapists use a catchall diagnosis of PTSD when treating combat veterans. The term Moral Injury has its inception as a military term and will be discussed in depth through the entirety of this dissertation. Moral Injury, at a glance, is the unremitting effects of witnessing or perpetrating acts that violate one's inner moral code. It typically causes demoralizing emotions and is associated with an increased risk of mental disorders and even suicidality. The extent of potentially morally injurious events (PMIEs) among United States combat veterans, and the issues associated with PMIEs in this population remains unidentified. In order to best facilitate help for our veteran community, it is vital to obtain accurate diagnoses and to understand the differentiations between PTSD and MI. Unfortunately, research indicates that clinicians struggle doing so as the two intersect and overlap in many areas. As such, many veteran’s symptoms worsen, as the underlying reason for their emotional decline remains unaddressed. To effectively facilitate proper clinical care for this population, therapists need to thoroughly assess for not only PTSD, but for the MI construct as well.

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Counseling Commons