Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tuesday Activities for Girls

Every Tuesday evening of each month teachers Rhonda Robinson and Tina Somers of Sorenson’s Ranch School, a private school for troubled teens, have been doing some fun and unique activities with Level 3, 4, and 5 girls. In February the girls learned how to make homemade bread. They worked in groups of four and each made their own mini-loaf that they enjoyed at the end of the activity. The girls learned how to follow a recipe from beginning to end, and learned why and how bread rises. That night they also started copying recipes to begin making cookbooks that they can have after they leave Sorenson’s Ranch School.
On the next Tuesday the girls made Valentines for everyone on the Sorenson’s Ranch School campus. They also made homemade cupcakes and learned to carve flowers out of gumdrops to put on top of the cupcakes. The girls enjoyed making Valentines for everyone and felt the satisfaction of serving others, something that troubled teens rarely feel because of being so wrapped up in themselves.
February 16th was our Sorenson’s Ranch School Etiquette dinner. A group of four girls planned, shopped, and cooked the entire meal without help. They also learned how to properly set a table, place a napkin on their lap, and how to use proper manners while eating. This was a unique opportunity for adolescents with behavioral difficulties to practice the art of using good manners. The menu consisted of chicken, corn-on-the-cob, homemade biscuits, fruit, punch, and ice cream sundaes.
The last week of the month, we had an “Egyptian” day for the entire school at Sorenson’s. The materials that were covered met academic goals in Social Studies, English, Foods, Science, Math, and Art. It also accomplished the goal of exposing the students of Sorenson’s Ranch School to other cultures of the world in the hopes of expanding their view of their world. Troubled teens tend to have a narrow view of the world and of their part in it. The outline below shows how the day went. The kids had a great time.
• Artifacts display, maps, and vocabulary terms.
• Watch and discuss Pharaoh’s Voyage, the Discovery of a Boat.
• Discuss the Pyramids.
• Watch Mr. Mummy, a video of the mummification process.
• Mummify a lemon.
• Create and decorate a personal sarcophagus.
• Write names using Egyptian hieroglyphs and create a cartouche.
• Make and bake an Apricot Egyptian cake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Day at Sorenson's Ranch School

What better thing to do on a perfect "Utah" spring day than to take advantage of our weather and a local attraction. Pam and Darold Francis, who are pioneer bucket and broom makers, host our nearby Freemont Visitor Center and Museum. Pam makes handcrafted brooms for home use as well as for decoration. Darold a "Cooperer" demonstrated handcrafted buckets and kegs.

We started our day by driving from Sorenson’s Ranch, a residential treatment center for troubled teens, in a van full of teens toward Interstate 70, going through Greenwich, passing Otter Creek and Piute Reservoir. The close streams were running clear and fast. We chose an area in Marysvale to have lunch, by one of the more peaceful and calming streams. On the drive we were also able to pick out some really good future fishing, cookout, and horse riding spots that the teens wanted to visit.

Arriving early for the demonstration, the Visitor Center hostess directed us to the exploration path on the grounds. The students from our residential treatment center, just followed the numbered observation points. We observed several Petroglyphs and Fossils. The trail also led to several places to view the canyons where the Indians built dwellings in the ground to capture the heat from the day’s sun. After climbing around some, we went back to the visitor center for the "Pioneer Bucket and Broom" demonstration. Pam told us that the brooms are made from reeds, grown like corn, and are from the sorghum family. She uses three layers of the reeds. Each reed is secured by heavy gauge cord and wound tightly by hand. The last row of reeds was also woven into a pattern to decoratively top the broom. These handmade brooms were touted to last 15 to 20 years of household use.

Darold, a cooper, makes handmade pioneer buckets. He used planing tools to shape each piece of wood fitting them securely together thus preventing any leaks. The buckets are functional as well as decorative.

After a short question and answer session during which the at-risk youth asked several questions, we headed back to Sorenson’s Ranch School. Everyone had had a lovely day and enjoyed their experiences there. This was just one of many outings that our troubled teens are able to participate in. These type of excursions make lasting impressions on our at-risk youth, many of whom came from difficult situations where their experiences were limited and so they came to believe that getting high and doing drugs was the only way to have a good time. Sorenson’s Ranch tries to prove them wrong by filling their lives with rewarding, drug-free experiences, and has been successfully doing so for over 30 years.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a therapy technique specifically designed to assist people in working through and releasing old trauma. It was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1970s. Shapiro was a therapist working in California with both Vietnam veterans and rape survivors who were experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other negative psychological reactions due to very upsetting or traumatic events that had occurred to them. Simply put, EMDR utilizes a technique to get both sides of the brain firing very strongly at the same time. It works on the theory that when we go through our normal day-to-day life and something mildly or moderately upsetting happens to us, our brain will process it through to the most adaptive or healthy level for us. However, whenever an extremely upsetting event occurs the brain can become overwhelmed and not be able to fully process the incident to the most healthy or adaptive level for us. EMDR utilizes a simple process of getting both the right and left side of the brain firing strongly while the client goes back through their memories and associated thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations related to the traumatic incident. There is also a process for desensitizing the negative thought about themselves that the client developed in response to the traumatic incident and reprocessing the negative self-thought to a more positive self-thought that fits them better today.

I have utilized EMDR successfully here at Sorenson’s Ranch with a number of issues including death of a parent, death of a pet, automobile accidents, sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing physical accidents, witnessing domestic violence, and negative issues or patterns that students have been stuck in. EMDR is one of the few evidenced-based practices in psychotherapy. There is a fairly large body of research indicating its success. In addition, EMDR is one of the most quickly effective techniques for making progress on healing traumatic issues. Usually, one to four EMDR sessions are all that is needed to release an old trauma.

Joy Morris, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Core Mindfulness:

Increasing present moment awareness of one’s self, others and the environment.

Parents often wonder if their teenager that is impulsive and does not think logically will ever be able to begin thinking through their decisions and be more reasonable in the choices that they make.
Sorenson’s Ranch School facilitates a skills group entitled Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) developed by Marsha Linehan. The DBT group focuses on teaching skills to assist with developing Core Mindfulness, Interpersonal Relationships, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance. The majority of students at Sorenson’s Ranch School have difficulty in at least one of these areas; therefore learning the DBT skills can be an important piece of their therapy.
In addition to teaching self awareness the Core Mindfulness skills teach about three states of mind, which include: reasonable mind, emotional mind, and wise mind. Students are taught to combine the reasonable mind, which is thinking rationally and logically based only on facts and emotional mind, which occurs when thoughts and behavior are controlled by emotions in order to be in the wise mind state. The wise mind state allows students to incorporate logic including the concept of what is right versus what is wrong with the emotional mind, which teenagers typically use most frequently. Students are taught with this skill to stop and think before acting and to learn to make decisions that are well thought out and based on truth as well as to look at how they are feeling and what the surroundings are telling them about the situation.
Using the DBT skills along with behavior modification ensures that students learn to change and manage their behavior including making decisions that are less impulsive and more thought out.

Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderlines Personality Disorder. N.Y.: The Guilford Press.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Las Vegas Adolescent/Young Adult Conference

Sorenson’s Ranch School is excited to announce that David Neslen LCSW and Sharice Taufatofua CPCI will be attending the Adolescent conference in Las Vegas April 15th through 17th. This is an opportunity to earn needed Continuing Education Credits but also to learn from and share with other leading professionals in our industry. At the conference there will be speakers discussing Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Youth Brain Development, Conduct Disorders, Video Gaming Compulsive and Addictive Aspects, Trauma Resolution, Creative Approaches to Group Therapy and much more. This Conference is dedicated to Adolescent treatment and is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest research and advances in our industry. Sorenson’s Ranch School has a dedication to our therapist’s and furthering their education so that they can continue to offer the best treatment’s available to the troubled teens that we serve which may suffer from addiction, depression, bipolar disorder, reactive attachment disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. Dave and Sharice are excited to attend this year’s conference and the opportunity to learn and gain insight that they can return and share with the rest of the staff and Sorenson’s Ranch School.