Researcher seeking to give a voice to military spouses of veterans with PTSD

Touched by the story of a veteran and his family, Tiffany Beks, a masters student at the University of Calgary, is conducting a nation-wide study to give a voice for spouses of veterans diagnosed with PTSD.

“I really want to hear the stories of spouses in this position. I want to honour their experience and honour their stories and; hopefully, from listening to their experiences and looking at the themes that transcend their stories, the information gathered through this process can help to inform future service delivery specifically for spouses of veterans with PTSD, but also the family as a whole,” said Beks.

Beks, who studies Counselling Psychology in the Werklund School of Education, first became interested in counselling psychology after conducting research for the Calgary Counselling Centre where she gathered information on topics ranging from domestic violence to eating disorders.

Beks interest in choosing this topic for her independent program of research for her studies developed after witnessing the journey of a military family Beks had known her entire life.

“I had the wonderful privilege of hearing their story and their struggles and witnessing the challenges they’d experienced; throughout the whole trajectory of him first learning that he had been diagnosed with PTSD and how they responded, the struggle they had in determining and understanding what to do next, and the challenges that accompany PTSD and how that impacts the family system,” stated Beks.

And, so, Beks decided to conduct her research on how spouses of veterans diagnosed with PTSD are impacted. Initially, she started by looking at the data already published on this topic; however, most of the material she found was out of the U.S.

“So I really wanted to know how this was impacting Canadian spouses and what kind of challenges and success stories they had in locating and engaging in mental health services to meet their needs and access support,” noted Beks.

The study began in October and she hopes to complete in late summer. Beks intends to present the research at the 2017 Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research Forum with an aim of having it published in a relevant journal. She also hopes to inform Canadian social policy related to military families affected by PTSD through the study.

The researcher is still looking for participants. Spouses or partners interested in taking part in the study can be located anywhere across the country and interviews can be conducted via Skype, telephone or in-person.

Individuals who decide to take part in the study first undergo a brief screening questionnaire. Then, an initial interview takes place for 60 to 90 minutes consisting of the individuals experiences obtaining mental health services. Spouses are invited back for follow-up discussions and to look at transcripts from the initial interview.

To take part in the study, you must be over the age of 18 and are a co-habiting partner of a veteran who has experienced combat-related PTSD. Partners must be co-habiting with the veteran for a minimum of 12 consecutive months. Veterans must have previously received treatment or are currently receiving treatment from a recognized mental health professional. Couples cannot currently be involved in a separation or divorce process.

The study is on a volunteer basis and can withdraw at any time.

If you are interested in taking part in the study, contact Tiffany Beks via email.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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