Ashley O'Connor, MSW, is currently a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver (DU).
As of September, 2015 she is acting as the Research Coordinator at the Iowa City, VA for the project:Can Service Dogs Improve the Quality of Life in Veterans with PTSD? She also continues to work on her passion of teaching at Wartburg College in Iowa as an adjunct faculty member.
Current PhD Status and Research Interests
Ashley entered the doctoral program at GSSW in the Fall of 2013. Her current research interests include: Community reintegration of returning veterans; decreasing stigmatization of Veterans who experienced trauma, especially students; implementation science within the VA system; increasing use of qualitative and mixed methods in the VA system; alternative treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder including psychiatric service animals and wilderness therapies; and human-animal interactions.
Ashley's Journey to Working with Veterans
During her second year as an MSW student at Boston College, Ashley started an internship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there where Ashley became passionate about working with Veterans, especially ones from the recent conflicts.
Upon graduation in order to combine Ashley's passions of clinical work and research, she became a Clinical Research Associate at the VAMC in Bedford, MA. There, she continued to work with Veterans who had experienced a brain injury and who were diagnosed with PTSD and stuggled with alcohol addiction. Ashley continued to run a music therapy group on the inpatient unit she developed as an intern and her interest in alternative therapies increased. She left the Bedford VAMC to become a Research Coordinator at the San Francisco VA. There, she was lucky enough to begin working with Keith Armstrong, LICSW to help with the reintegration of veterans into higher education. This increased her passion in working with returning veterans and she noticed a trend of dogs accompanying some of these Veterans to school. She conducted individual research on animal assisted psychiatric rehabilitation and spoke at different venues about this topic. Through these experiences of working with student veterans, veterans who experienced trauma, and veterans with PTSD service dogs Ashley decided to enter a doctoral program in order to explore best practices of working with veterans. She is currently working on her dissertation F"rom Veteran to Student: Using Structural Equation Modeling to Examine the Impact of School Environment on Educational and Psychosocial Outcomes."
Ashley A. O'Connor, MSW
University of Denver
Graduate School of Social Work
2148 South High Street
Denver, CO 80208
AshleyAOConnor@gmail.com or Ashley.OConnor@du.edu