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McNair Scholars Program

Scott Millar

He/him

Education: Bachelor of Science in family studies and human services (May 2019)

Currently pursuing dual Master's degrees in social work and social policy at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis

McNair Project: Evaluating the Efficacy of Veteran Couples Retreats on Veterans and their Caregivers (2018)

Mentor: Briana Goff, Ph.D.

PTSD can affect the quality of a couple’s relationship even long after separation from military service. Veteran couple retreats offer the opportunity for couples to interact with others facing similar relationship challenges as well as giving them exposure to various alternative treatment modalities. This study looks at a sample of 6 four-day retreat programs that took place over a three-year period. 197 of those participants responded to exit surveys with 94% expressing a belief that their goals had been met. Responses to questions about large and small group sessions as well as alternative treatment modalities were reviewed and coded to identify major themes. Participants found large group sessions to be informative and helpful, while they expressed a greater ability to open up and bond with members of their smaller groups. Animal assisted therapy was the most popular form of alternative treatment, and many participants expressed a desire to continue other methods once the retreats had concluded. Results support the overall efficacy of the retreat model in improving individual symptoms and relationship satisfaction for couples, but continued research will be needed to provide additional evidence supporting this conclusion.