Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora Rice


Military sexual trauma (MST) has been associated with poor emotional and psychological well-being, less overall life satisfaction, and poorer health in general as well as higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Department of Veterans Affairs provides treatment for veterans who experienced MST and recommends cognitive processing therapy (CPT) as a preferred treatment modality. Quantitative studies have shown that CPT can decrease symptoms of PTSD; however, a neglected area of study concerns the experiences of veterans who receive CPT for MST-related PTSD. In this generic qualitative study, the perceptions and experiences of female veterans who were survivors of MST and received CPT from a VA provider through a feminist lens were explored. Twenty-one female veterans who were survivors of MST and who sought treatment at the VA and received CPT were asked to complete a written questionnaire. The research questions explored the participants' experiences with CPT, changes in their symptoms, social lives and relationships, and general functioning and well-being after receiving CPT. Thematic analysis was used to identify 3 themes. Findings revealed that although participants described their experience of deciding whether to participate in CPT and receiving CPT as difficult, they reported increased quality of life and improved well-being after CPT. The results from this study will increase understanding of the experiences of veterans with CPT. Finally, scholar practitioners may be able to use findings from this study to enhance awareness of perceptions of clients, improve practice, and better serve clients who have experienced MST.