Ashley O'Connor, MSW, is currently a second year PhD student
in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver (DU).
After graduating from Tufts University in 2005, Ms. O'Connor worked for a couple of years in the communications word of radio and live music venues. Feeling the need to help people more, she became a research associate at Children's Hospital in Boston. This led to her interest in becoming a social worker, and entered an MSW program in 2008.
During her second year at Boston College, Ashley started an internship at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts. It was there where Ashley found her passion in working with Veterans, especially ones from the OEF/OIF/OND conflicts.
After missing the world of research, Ashley 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 on helping the reintegration of veterans to 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 did individual research on animal assisted psychiatric rehabilitation and spoke at different venues about this topic.
Current PhD Status and Research Interests
Ashley entered the doctoral program at GSSW in the Fall of 2013. Her current research interests are: Community reintegration of returning veterans; decreasing stigma to increase service utilization amongst Veterans, 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 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