Term of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Dorthie Cross

Committee Member 1

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 2

Thresa Yancey


Many individuals experience traumatic events within their lifetime and between 7 and 9% will be diagnosed with PTSD (Kilpatrick et al., 2013; National Center for PTSD, 2018); however, many will not receive treatment due to a variety of barriers, including stigma, limited mental health literacy, high cost, lack of transportation, and other factors (Blais et al., 2014; Chikovani et al., 2015; Hom et al., 2017; Gavrilovic Kantor et al., 2017; Kulesza et al., 2015). Mobile apps may offer a way to overcome some these barriers (Kantor et al., 2017). Prior research demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of mobile apps for mental health (Firth et al., 2017; Linardon et al., 2019), including a small but promising body of research demonstrating the efficacy of PTSD apps (Goreis et al., 2020; Wickersham et al., 2019). One of these apps is STAIR Coach, based on Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR), an evidenced based PTSD treatment with findings that its skills interventions alone can result in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms (Cloitre et al., 2010). The current study examined the potential clinical benefit of STAIR Coach. Participants (N = 50) were recruited from the community and through social media and completed an online assessment of lifetime trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, emotion dysregulation, and psychosocial functioning. Participants were randomly assigned to either the intervention condition (asked to download STAIR Coach; N = 25) or a waitlist control condition (N = 25). No other intervention was provided for the treatment group other than downloading the app. Measures of PTSD, emotion dysregulation, and psychosocial functioning were administered again at three and six weeks. When compared to wait list controls, participants in the STAIR Coach condition reported significantly greater reductions in PTSD symptoms and improvements in emotion dysregulation; however, although scores improved, there was not a significant difference in psychosocial functioning between the two conditions. Study results are limited by small sample size.

Research Data and Supplementary Material