John Whelan

John Whelan

Adjunct Professor


Email: John.Whelan2@MSVU.CA





I completed an undergraduate degree with a double major in Psychology/Sociology (Criminology) at St. Mary’s University, MSc in Community/Clinical Psychology at Acadia University, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of New Brunswick. During my undergraduate years I served as Director for Alcare Place in Halifax and later served as Clinical Director for the Canadian military’s addiction treatment programs in the Atlantic Region. For the past 10 years, I have been Senior Psychologist in a private practice clinic treating first responders, serving military, veterans and their families experiencing operational trauma and related issues.

During my doctoral training I was principal investigator for a large multi-site, qualitative study on dating violence for the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research. My dissertation evaluated treatment outcomes for Canadian Forces members involved in military programs. Since 2007, I have been evaluating the effects of group and peer-based interventions for chronic PTSD and transitional stress experienced by veterans and their families. I am particularly interested in the quality of early familial attachment relationships and the incidence of adult trauma and other mental health issues.

Research interests

  • Social determinants of mental health
  • Military cultural identity and traumatic stress reactions
  • Masculine values in first response organizations
  • Psychological sense of community and mental health
  • Group therapy applications

Selected Publications

Whelan, J. (May 2016 release). Ghost in the Ranks: Forgotten voices and military mental health. Vancouver, BC; FriesenPress.

Whelan, J. (2015). Effects of developmental abuse and symptom suppression among traumatized veterans. Psychology, 6, 540-548. doi:10.4236/psych.2015.65052.

Whelan, J.(2014). Going crazy in the Green Machine: Trauma and PTSD among Canada’s military veterans. Vancouver, BC: FriesenPress.

Whelan, J.(2013). Exploring the relationships between untreated adverse childhood events and substance abuse, and their impact on PTSD relapse rates among Canadian military veterans. In A. B. Aiken & A. H. Belanger (Eds.), Beyond the line: Military and veteran health research (pp. 180-195). Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Whelan, J.(2009). Trauma Relapse Prevention Group (TRPG) Member’s Handbook. Unpublished Manuscript.

Sears, H. A., Byers, S. E., Whelan, J., Saint-Pierre, M., & The Dating Violence Research Team (2006). “If it hurts you, then it is not a joke”: Adolescents’ ideas about dating violence in heterosexual relationships, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 1191-1207.

Whelan, J.(2005). Trauma and addictions recovery program (TARP): An evidenced-based treatment of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse/dependence for Canadian Forces members and veteran, Ottawa, ON: National Defense Medical Centre.

Selected Presentations


Whelan, J.(2014, November). Improving PTSD outcomes for veterans by attending to childhood abuse: A synthesis of two studies. Presented at the ISTSS Conference, Miami, FL.

Whelan, J.(2014, September). Addiction: Complexities in assessing and treating military clientele. Colloquium presentation. Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.

Whelan, J., & Trudel, J. G. (2014, April). Military trauma: Fostering peer support – Results from a group-based intervention. Presented at the First National Peer Support Conference, Halifax, NS.

Whelan, J. (2013, November). Description and treatment outcomes for the trauma relapse prevention group (TRPG) program. Poster presented at the annual conference of the Canadian Institute on Military and Veteran Health Research, Edmonton, AB.

Whelan, J.(2013, November). Facing adversity: Expected and unexpected reactions. Presentation to Canadian Red Cross, Dartmouth, NS.

Whelan, J., & Stephenson, H. (2013, June). Veterans: Managing issues. Invited workshop with McInnesCooper Law, Halifax, NS.

Whelan, J.(2012, March). Invited Witness – Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs: Study – Review of the Delivery of Front-Line Health and Wellbeing Services for Canadian Veterans. Royal Artillery Park, Halifax, NS.

Whelan, J.(2010, November). Invited witness – Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs: Study – Combat Stress and its Consequences on the Mental Health of Veterans and their Family. House of Commons, Ottawa, ON.

Whelan, J.(2003). Treatment of comorbid PTSD and SUD, Paper presented at Treatment Standards Committee at Department of National Defence, Ottawa, ON.


Whelan, J. (2011, November 6). CBC Radio – ‘Ground Support’. Maritime Magazine hosted by Shaina Luck.

Whelan, J. (2012, June 25). Troubles after military life: Challenges facing military members being medically released. Canadian Press by Alison Auld.

Whelan, J. (2011, August 5). Homeless veterans need transition centres, News Conference with Mr. Peter Stoffer, MP, Halifax, NS.

Whelan, J. (2011, August 5). Mental health challenges for CF Veterans, CBC Evening News, Newsmaker Interview with Host Amy Smith.

Department of Family Studies and Gerontology

Mount Saint Vincent University
166 Bedford Highway
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3M 2J6

Department telephone (902) 457-6321
Department fax (902) 457-6134
Main office: Evaristus Hall, room 318