Who can benefit from ART
ART can be used to help those with clearly debilitating forms of PTSD, those struggling with more milder forms of anxiety linked to situations or challenges people face in their daily lives, such as exam anxiety or a minor phobia.
Despite the fact that ART is a fairly new form of therapy, there are studies and evidence to show that it is effective in assisting people suffering from PTSD.
In fact ART has proven such a significant reduction in symptoms relating to PTSD that it can now be recommended as a first-line treatment, meaning that one does not need to have tried some other kind of treatment (usually medications or another form of psychotherapy) without success before proceeding with ART.
ART can also be employed as an additional supportive treatment for people who have not responded to other first-line treatments. Since ART is not pharmacological, it can also be used in conjunction with medications.
There is also promising research being done into the effectiveness of ART in alleviating the symptoms of phobias, panic, sleep disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, codependency, grief, disruptive and antisocial behaviors, and enhancing general wellbeing.
How to prepare for an ART session
Clients are always encouraged to educate themselves about the types of therapy and treatment they are going to receive in order to be best equipped to make informed decisions about their personal path of healing.
If there is a specific memory or thought which a client wishes to work with, then they can bring that to the session. In the absence of a clear memory or thought which the client would like to work on, the ART therapist will assist and guide the client to finding that which should be the focus of the session.
What happens in an ART session
During the session you will be asked to bring to mind the memory, experience, or future fear. With the guidance and support of the therapist, you will work through these experiences or future fear and bring in a positive resolution.
Simply put, the therapist will move their finger from left to right in front of you, and you will be asked to allow your eyes to follow this movement while recalling the situation which you wish to work on (you won’t have to speak it out loud). These are the bilateral eye movements referred to above, which are known to be linked to a relaxation state in the brain.
While the therapist continues to move their finger from side to side, and you follow this with your gaze, you will be asked to create a positive outcome of resolution to the situation, thereby linking a positive outcome to a previously painful memory.
This process is known in ART as Voluntary Memory / Image Replacement (VMR/VIR), and is a fundamental aspect of the healing process.
What to expect after an ART session
Learning and change are two core aims of ART. Learning is both direct and indirect, and reflecting on the learnings and the progress made helps clients consolidate the positive effects of the treatment and to move forward with a greater sense of agency in their healing journey.
Change provides hope for the future, and the reduction of negative emotions, thoughts and feelings as new solutions are found for situations and experiences that were previously debilitating to the client.