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U. student creating therapy room for abuse victims

U. student creating therapy room for abuse victims

(Alexis Jessop)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Alexis Jessop’s passion for art and psychology heightened when she spearheaded a new community service project.

Jessop, a senior at the University of Utah, is collaborating with the Intermountain Specialized Abuse Treatment Center (ISAT) in South Salt Lake to update its developmental therapy room, used for group and play therapy.

The room, which will benefit victims of abuse and violence, will house new books and toys as well as a wall mural Jessop will be painting to create a positive environment.

“I’ve seen in my own life how important environment is,” Jessop said. “There’s been a lot of research saying environment plays such a key role in education and healing. I think my project will help create a more open environment.”

Jessop created a GoFundMe account, inviting anyone interested in helping to donate money or supplies, and she has gathered donated chapsticks and writing tools, which will go toward creating individual care packages for the children treated at ISAT.

“Each care package will be pretty unique, just like each kid we’re working with,” Jessop said. “I hope to have one large item, like a book, and then some smaller things like markers in each package.”

Becky Valcarce, co-executive director for ISAT, said the only supplies they currently have are those that the therapists have purchased on their own dime.


Play therapy is a way for someone to be able to work through their trauma. It's not always possible for them to express their creativity within the confines of a therapy office.

–Becky Valcarce, ISAT co-executive director


Valcarce said she is excited about Jessop’s project because it’ll allow patients to express themselves creatively.

“Play therapy is a way for someone to be able to work through their trauma,” Valcarce said. “It’s not always possible for them to express their creativity within the confines of a therapy office.”

Currently, the room is used for group therapy in the evenings, but when Jessop is finished, it will also be utilized in the daytime for both group therapy and as a playroom for children.

“I hope to bring in a brand new energy to the room and enough adequate supplies that will reach all different age groups and interests,” Jessop said. “I want to create a space that people thrive in so they can open up to specific therapists.”

The ISAT center in South Salt Lake treats about 100 patients each week, using the cognitive behavioral approach.

Valcarce said she could have asked Jessop to put together manuals for the center, but she wanted her to do something more creative.

“I’m usually not a creative person, so I’m just thrilled she has that artistic part of her,” Valcarce said. “Her talents will add so much more for our agency than a volunteer coming in and putting together a manual.”

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Megan Marsden Christensen

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