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Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a unique form of therapy developed by Laney Rosenzweig in 2008 to assist with various mental health conditions, particularly Post-traumatic-stress -disorder (PTSD), anxiety, phobias, and depression.
ART incorporates aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Gestalt Therapy and Brief Psycho-dynamic Therapy, combined with relaxed bilateral eye movements similar to those found during our Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep stage. ART trained therapists follow a set protocol in their sessions with clients.
ART appeals to many individuals because one doesn’t necessarily have to speak about one’s problems or issues during the process in order to experience the healing benefits. People who have endured traumatic events do not want to share their stories until they feel ready. Sometimes being expected to verbalize these painful memories may reinforce or even exacerbate the trauma.
ART provides a safe and supported healing modality empowering individuals to reframe these painful past experiences in a more positive way without having to talk about them until they are ready. Read on to learn more about our Accelerated Resolution Therapy in Phoenix, Arizona
Trauma, Mental Health and Accelerated Resolution Therapy
According to psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, “Trauma is not just an event that took place some time in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on the mind, brain and body.” We understand that specific situations or experiences may trigger a stress or traumatic response in the individual, even when actual danger or threat is absent. These physical and emotional responses usually relate to a primary incident or memory by which the individual feels trapped.
It may be difficult, or even impossible, for the person suffering from PTSD or anxiety to manage or control the intrusive thoughts that cause them distress. Similarly, they may easily be triggered by words spoken to them or places they visit that in some way register in the brain as similar to a place in which a trauma occurred.
Often the maladaptive response in the person is to either avoid certain situations, or turn to drugs and alcohol to numb these intolerable feelings, sensations and thoughts. Over time this repetitive behavior is seen as addiction which has far reaching consequences on all aspects of the individual’s life.
Using the unique blend of psychotherapy and relaxing eye movements in ART, within just a few sessions, clients are able to effectively and successfully reframe these triggers, and move beyond what previously felt like uncontrollable reactions.
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.
The advantages of ART
The accelerated resolution therapy process is not long and drawn out, and most individuals will attend 1-5 sessions in total. Sessions are usually 60-70 minutes in length. Many clients report a positive outcome after only a single session. As mentioned, one is not obligated to speak about the past traumatic experiences in order to benefit from ART.
ART also works in conjunction with other forms of therapy and can be used to help people with a variety of challenges and with varying levels of severity. There is no homework or skills practice required in between sessions.
The side effects of ART
There have been some cases in which clients receiving ART for PTSD have experienced a heightened sense of anxiety and nightmares. For this reason, it is vital that clients communicate with their therapists so that the impact of these negative side effects can be reduced and the therapist can support the client in whatever way is needed as they work through the process.
Since ART is a relatively new therapy, more research needs to be done to create a fuller picture of the potential side effects. Thus far, ART has shown to have generally few side effects.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona
Accelerated resolution therapy is offered at Camelback Recovery as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with one of the other forms of therapies which we provide for people with substance use disorders, depression, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD, and anxiety among others. We believe that treating you, the client, requires a unique approach, a single therapy or combination of therapies specifically chosen to meet your needs on your healing journey. Contact us to speak to one of our trained professionals at our Phoenix treatment center who will assist you as you take steps to support and improve your health and well-being.