Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Marcia L. Martin, PhD

Second Advisor

Joretha Bourjolly, PhD


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) faces a plethora of challenges as it daily encounters and treats veterans. With a great prevalence of co-occurring diagnoses, veterans’ needs today are significant and arguably more complex than ever before (Clark, Bair, Buckenmaier, Gironda & Walker, 2007; Phillips et al., 2016). The following two papers seek to build a justification for reconsidering how post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is treated given the illness’ prevalence and the efficacy of current treatments. The first paper reviews the literature and includes: a chronology of the PTSD diagnosis; an examination of current treatments offered by the VA and consideration of their effectiveness; a discussion of current and alternative treatments offered for PTSD; and an exploration of therapeutic horticulture as a healing modality for veterans coping with PTSD. After reviewing the historical and theoretical foundation for this research, the second paper details a mixed method study designed to better understand the depth and breadth of therapeutic horticulture programs that have been operationalized at VA facilities. Using survey and interviews of VA personnel, the author elicited information about VA therapeutic horticulture programs and was able to deduce themes related to the genesis of programs, details of programs’ operationalization and facilitation, and the impact on veterans. The author concludes the study with recommendations for those VA facilities considering implementing a therapeutic horticulture program along with an appeal that the VA begins to more earnestly consider the increasing body of evidence concerning the efficacy of therapeutic horticulture.

Included in

Social Work Commons