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January 2019 Member Spotlight – Barbara Allen-Bronson, LCSW, RPT-S

Barbara Allen-Bronson is a LCSW and RPT-S.  She earned her Bachelor degree in Behavioral Science from UVU in 2002 and her MSW from the University of Utah in 2005. She enjoys working with children and families using experiential and creative interventions. She is also trained in EMDR and incorporates this technique with play therapy when needed. Barbara also enjoys using sandtray therapy and expressive arts therapy with clients of all ages.  Barbara uses Child Centered Play Therapy as a foundation when working with children. She also uses theraplay interventions with parents and children together when improving attachment and parent child relationship is a goal. She has taught Child Parent Therapy Relationship therapy classes for over 10 years and enjoys using this intervention in groups and with parents individually. Barbara also enjoys providing supervision for play therapists working toward their RPT.

The following are 3 EMDR interventions, Barbara likes to implement into her work with children and families.

One of my favorite interventions for children and adolescents is creating a container for triggering events and memories. I usually use this intervention in preparation for EMDR. I have small cardboard containers I get from the craft store; the client chooses a container and are told it will be a container to hold things that bother them. They decorate it in any way they choose then we write down the things that result in feelings of sadness, fear, anger, etc.  on little pieces of paper. When we have all, they want written down I use a chart with a 1 – 10 suds scale with pictures of faces depicting emotions on the range and they place the slips of paper on the scale indicated how much each situation bothers them. This gives me a very good idea of what targets may be best to start processing with EMDR. They get to leave the container in my office someplace out of sight of other people. We talk about how those things are still there, but they have control of them and how they are affected.

One I like to use with young children which integrates Play therapy with EMDR includes reading the book “A Terrible Thing Happened” by Margaret Holmes. This is a great story that talks about what happens when a child experiences trauma. The main character in the story is a raccoon named Sherman. I have a stuffed Racoon which they can play with and we can explore possible terrible things Sherman may have seen. I then introduce EMDR the way Anna Gomez does saying the brain digests feelings sort of like the body digests food and sometimes feelings need help getting digested. When the child is ready to begin EMDR processing the child helps our stuffed Sherman process by holding the thera-tappers in the raccoon’s paws to help him digest the yucky feelings. The child gets to be the voice for Sherman, so it really is their feelings and experience that is getting processed.

With a little older child, adolescent or adult we often make self-nurture kits or calm down kits, depending on what they need help with (anxiety, depression, anger management etc.) I purchase photo boxes from the craft store, they can decorate the boxes if they choose and we discuss activities and things that can help them. We talk about something for each of the senses and I provide a few things with their box to get them started and we discuss what else they might add on their own. Some of the things I provide with the boxes are small notebooks, pens, small journals, mini colored pencil sets or crayons, small coloring books, small containers of play dough, small containers of nice smelling lotion. We make calm down glitter bottles and/or slime they can put in the box. Sometimes they will find pictures from magazines of things they like to put in the box, I encourage them to put photographs of people and things that give positive feelings. Lists or pictures of things to do that can’t be put in the box. There are many possible things they can put in it. If you do EMDR this can be a great resource building activity.