A Community of Heart Profile: Barbara Hensley

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What is the trajectory of your life when you have lived in 40 different places before the age of 20? Born to Keith and Josephine Lukens, Barbara Hensley was the youngest of three children and the only girl. Her parents met in Sacramento and were married six weeks later. Keith's job in construction moved the family throughout Washington, Oregon, Montana, California, Utah and Nevada. Barb's innate resilience grew as she coped with her family's sporadic homelessness and intermittent lack of finances.

Barb lived in various Ohio cities after age 16, except for a year that was spent in Western Australia, where she worked with her father for Kaiser Engineers. Upon returning from Australia, Barb finished her BA in English at Miami University. After graduation she spent short times in Alabama, South Carolina, Upper Michigan and ultimately ended up and settling in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) hired her, beginning her 30-year career working in Accounting and Information Technology. She met and married her first husband, Charlie Murray, who was a great supporter and also inspired her to obtain a BS in Accounting from the University of Cincinnati. Their marriage ended prematurely when Charlie died from a rare form of Multiple Sclerosis. She discovered that through taking care of her husband, she deeply enjoyed nurturing and helping people, so she made the decision to follow this passion.

At first, she pursued her own counseling and then volunteered at a Hospital Care Unit where she did "Hug Therapy" with inpatients diagnosed with chemical dependence. She lectured about healing properties and the importance of touching others and introduced a stuffed animal she called a "beeple" (a combination of a bear and a person). When the patients hugged beeples in a certain way, they made pleasant, soothing beeping sounds. The group members loved it.

Barb returned to study Community Counseling at the University of Cincinnati, where she received her MA in 1991. During that time, she married Fred Hensley and helped raise two of his three children. Barb's days sometimes began at 4:00am in order to work full-time, attend her afternoon classes and complete her practicums. She subsequently received an Advanced Graduate Studies Certificate in 1993, completed her EdD in Clinical Counseling at the University of Cincinnati in 1996, and became a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

In a parallel world, Barb continued to work with ODOT with great success. As a Data Systems Manager, Barb played a leading role in the computerization of her department from the mid-eighties. She was responsible for coordinating computer activities for her Districtʼs computer systems and was the “go-to” person to make sure that all systems ran smoothly and securely and that the staff were adequately trained and able to coordinate within their areas. As a result of Barbʼs efforts, her staff became educated, proficient and sophisticated computer users. She designed and implemented a Disaster Recovery Plan and she used the “Keyfile” software used for document imaging – a helpful skill when you scan all the articles written about EMDR! She kept abreast of the latest technology, coordinated her efforts with staff within her own District and statewide and handled conflicts. With Barbʼs retirement from ODOT in 2003, the foundational tools she had learned became invaluable in her subsequent work as a teacher, writer, clinical practice computer specialist, emergency responder, Francine Shapiro Library founder, coordinator EMDRIA Board Member and President, full-time clinician and member of her regional and larger EMDR community.

Barb's first experience with EMDR was her own therapy. While a graduate student, she took the Basic EMDR training in 1994 and 1995. In 1997, she took Part II again with Francine Shapiro. She met Irene Giessl and persuaded her to become her supervisor. Irene agreed, despite her misgivings, and a rewarding partnership began that is still ongoing. Two months after becoming an LPCC, Barb became an EMDR Institute Facilitator.

EMDR has had a profound influence on Barb as a clinician:

“Dr. Francine Shapiro has given us all such a magnificent gift because of her ʻwalk in the park,” and her gift keeps on giving through the ripple effect. So many lives have been touched by that fateful walk, mine included. As a result of EMDR, I now trust totally in the integrity of the process – mine and the clientʼs. I trust that the clients have everything they need to resolve the issues they bring with them. My job is to guide, direct and support the process in which we engage and celebrate the successes that result.”

Barb joined Irene as the EMDR Institute Sponsors and EMDRIA Regional Coordinators for the Greater Cincinnati EMDRIA Region. In 2002, they were named Outstanding EMDRIA Regional Coordinators; a tribute to their dedication to supporting the teaching and learning of EMDR and to collaborating and working together with other EMDR practitioners in the area. They created the Cincinnati Trauma Connection, a private practice dedicated to working with adults, individuals, couples and groups. "Takoda" (Sioux for friend to everyone) or "Kodi" joined the practice in 2008 as Barb's therapy dog. Barb has automated their practice and they are up-to-date with the latest computer technology. When the Cincinnati area was hit with floods and tornadoes, Barb and Irene began volunteering for the Red Cross. They also did critical incident stress debriefing with airline employees in Cincinnati who booked people on the fatal flights of 9/11.

Barb joined the EMDR International Board of Directors as its Treasurer-elect in 2001. She brought her expertise, clear thinking and decisiveness to the Public and Professional Relations, Leadership, International and Audit Committees. When Barb saw that something needed to be done, in her quiet, calm manner, she would be there to offer her ideas and work cooperatively to come to resolution. She enjoyed her time on the Board as she learned how a Board functions and interacted with the other Board members, EMDRIA staff and membership. As President, Barb had to represent EMDRIA publicly – a task difficult for her as a shy, private person. In this position, she felt that she pushed herself to another level that she never thought possible. She made a promise to try to shake the hand of every member at the Montreal Annual EMDRIA conference as a gesture of inclusion. And thatʼs what she did! She repeated the same gesture at the annual Conference in Seattle the next year.

Cincinnati Trauma Connection is the present home of the beautiful Einstein quilt created by Anneke Van Hoecke and presented at the 6th EMDR European Conference to raise funds for EMDR-HAP in Brussels, Belgium in 2006. Barb had the winning bid and brought the quilt to the United States. This was her contribution to Europe-HAP and a gesture of support to our European colleagues.

Barb is the creator and curator of the Francine Shapiro Library (FSL), a project that she inadvertently began while still a graduate intern. The Library started with an early collection of documents about EMDR. This collection grew from a series of boxes to an over-bulging 5-drawer file cabinet she kept in her garage. When she found that her filing cabinet would no longer hold the various journal, magazine, and newspaper articles, including Conference handouts that she had collected, she began the enormous task of scanning these documents into PDF files and collecting citations from other documents.

While serving as Past President, Barb offered and EMDRIA accepted the gift of these articles and citations. When it was time to find a home for Barb's vast collection of valuable EMDR information, the question remained where to house it and how EMDR clinicians could gain access to it. It was at this point that Marilyn Schleyer, former EMDRIA Board Member and Northern Kentucky University (NKU) faculty member, thought that NKU could be the new home for the FSL. In collaboration with NKU's Steely Library, IT Department, and Steely Library Research Librarian, Philip Yannarella, the Francine Shapiro Library was launched. Barb and Philip have continued the arduous work of data and document collection and data verification in an effort to keep the FSL current. This year NKU's Web Development Team took on the task of revamping the FSL website, and it has a completely new look (http:// emdr.nku.edu). The FSL honors the life work of Francine Shapiro through Barb's dedication and commitment to EMDR by making information easily accessible to clients and clinicians alike. This has been a unique and unparalleled contribution to EMDR. To date, there are 5660 citations in the library.

In her roles as EMDR Institute Facilitator and Logistician and EMDRIA Approved Consultant, Barb continues to demonstrate her devotion to EMDR. She recently joined the Board of Directors of the EMDRIA Foundation. In 2008, after writing a presentation for the Greater Cincinnati EMDRIA Regional Meeting, she was surprised at the ease of the process and decided to write a book called "An EMDR Primer: From Practicum to Practice". By October 2008, she had a contract with Springer Publishing and it was published in July 2009.

To the EMDR Community Barb says:

"If you want EMDR's momentum to continue, put yourself out there. Be generous. Give your time, money and support. Give back what EMDR has given you. I have always believed that what you give you get back tenfold, and this is true with my life. It is a spiritual truth that I have lived with since I was a little girl. There will always be enough of everything, so do not be afraid to give it away. And, I repeat Francine's perennial mantra:'Research. Research. Research.' It's just another way to give. If you can't participate in a study, donate generously to the EMDRIA Foundation so others can. There are many ways to give of yourself."

In 2009, Barb was the recipient of EMDRIA's Francine Shapiro Award. Not only does Barb epitomize the EMDR professional, she also upholds the standard of excellence of EMDR practice and provides service to others, which is the heart of Francine Shapiro's work. These are qualities that are part of her whole scope of life and we are lucky to have her as a part of our EMDR Community.


“A Community of Heart Profile: Barbara Hensley,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 15, 2024, https://francineshapirolibrary.omeka.net/items/show/7636.

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