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Scholar Feature: Ian George Barron (FRS '19-'20) Study looks at the Efficacy of Intensive EMDR Therapy with Youth in Juvenile Detention

“It is my hope that trauma-specific interventions will become routine for children in juvenile detention,” says Dr. Ian George Barron, Director of the Center for International Education and Professor in Student Development in the College of Education and current Family Research Scholar at the Center for Research on Families (CRF).

Dr. Barron’s study aims to identify the efficacy of intensive Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy with youth in juvenile detention compared to treatment as usual using a randomized control trial. Using intensive EMDR, a cost-effective, short-term intervention, Dr. Barron expects to ameliorate the effects of trauma and trauma related symptoms for youth while reducing treatment time, increasing client tolerance of treatment, and reducing drop-out rates. Dr. Barron would also like to use the study to establish the economic benefits of intensive EMDR therapy versus treatment as usual in juvenile detention, expecting the benefits of EMDR to traditional treatments to be less costly and more effective.

Dr. Barron is currently the principal investigator for trauma recovery projects running in the Middle East and Brazil. Dr Barron's partners include the Children and War Foundation, Bergen, The Center for Applied Research in Education (CARE), Ramallah, and Dr. Ricky Greenwald from the Child Trauma Institute in the U.S.

While training professionals of juvenile detention in a trauma-specific program in Scotland, Dr. Barron discovered that the professionals were spending only about twenty to thirty percent of their time directly engaged with the young people in the detention center. Dr. Barron learned to first check, “exactly what professionals do with their time prior to delivering training for them.” He found that programs that address trauma in juvenile detention typically focus on changing problematic behavior. Despite the best efforts of those implementing these programs, however, the outcomes are typically poor. His current study is based on the assumption that addressing the trauma underlying the problem behaviors is the key to achieving long-term mental health and behavior advances.

After decades of bearing witness to the consequences of child abuse in various forms, Dr. Barron felt driven to do something about these tragedies. He hopes by working with the CRF's Family Research Scholars program, he will learn the skills to become an effective grant writer in order to secure the support needed to increase the impact of his vital research.

CRF is excited to continue to work with Dr. Barron on his important and timely research.