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The Transformative Nature of Fly-Fishing for Veterans and Military Personnel with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Patti J. Craig, Dustin M. Alger, Jessie L. Bennett, Tamar P. Martin


Grounded in the leisure-coping framework (Kleiber et al., 2002; 2008), this phenomenological study utilized a focus group method to explore the meaning of fly-fishing for veterans and military personnel with PTSD. This study also explored ways in which fly-fishing may serve as a coping resource in transcending negative life events, such as PTSD, as it helps move veterans and military personnel toward personal transformation and posttraumatic growth (PTG). A total of nine participants from the Project Healing Waters Fly-Fishing program participated in two focus groups to understand how fly-fishing impacts PTSD symptom management and to identify aspects of the program that may be responsible for symptom reduction and growth among this population. Four themes emerged from the data, suggesting fly-fishing: (a) serves as a breather from the negative impact of PTSD, (b) sustains coping effort and commitment, (c) restores control by alleviating PTSD symptoms, and (d) can serve as a context for personal transformation and posttraumatic growth. Implications for practice are provided.

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complimentary and integrative health; fly-fishing; posttraumatic stress disorder; posttraumatic growth; stress-coping theory; veterans and military personnel

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