Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Trauma, a universal experience, varies in intensity across different individuals and can lead to traumatic stress. This emotional distress can frequently be found among those battling substance dependencies, such as alcohol or drugs. It's important to remember, though, that addressing traumatic stress is an essential component in overcoming addiction. By treating traumatic stress, we can reduce triggers and lessen the likelihood of setbacks on the path to recovery.
The journey to breaking free from addiction centers around honing skills that promote sustained sobriety. Many individuals, particularly those struggling with PTSD and traumatic stress, may have used drugs or alcohol to cope with the painful images and sensations linked to their trauma. It's understandable, but there are healthier alternatives.
A method that has shown significant promise is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), an eye-movement technique rooted in the principles of bilateral stimulation. ART, a compassionate and innovative approach, provides meaningful results within a comparatively shorter number of therapy sessions.
ART is an evidence-based therapy recognized by SAMHSA, the VA, and the Department of Defense. The treatment is reported by clinicians and clients to be less stressful and less intrusive. Research has demonstrated that this modality is a briefer protocol than other treatments with significant improvements.
A study by the University of Southern Florida also found it to be more effective than other treatments for traumatic stress when compared to other eye-movement, cognitive-behavioral, and exposure therapies. Research shows that ART is effective in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, depression, phobias, grief, abuse in addition to its use for trauma.
ART is a powerful tool that...
• Alleviates PTSD symptoms within a span of just one to five sessions.
• Is versatile and effective across various populations and age brackets.
• Has the capability to dispel the mental imprints of numerous traumatic experiences.
• Lessens the likelihood of stress-related impacts on therapists treating trauma patients.
With ART, there's no need to...
• Assign additional work or tasks for the client to do outside the therapy sessions.
• Pressure the client to reveal more information than they're at ease with.
• Include in-vivo exposure as part of the therapeutic process.
• Subject therapists to the risk of enduring secondary traumatic stress over extended periods
What Does Accelerated Resolution Therapy Look Like?
In ART, the therapist guides the client through visualizing the traumatic event while simultaneously moving their eyes back and forth following the therapist’s hand. This eye movement is thought to access deeper levels of the brain where traumatic memories are stored, allowing for more efficient processing and resolution.
Along with this technique, cognitive restructuring and relaxation strategies are also utilized to address and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to the trauma. Three of the techniques employed in ART are:
• Imaginal exposure
• Cognitive restructuring
Imaginal exposure is a form of exposure therapy in which the individual imagines and recounts their traumatic experience in a safe and controlled environment. This process helps to confront and process the emotions associated with the experience, ultimately leading to decreased anxiety and distress related to the trauma.
Cognitive restructuring is a technique used in cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps individuals identify and challenge negative or distorted thoughts, ultimately replacing them with more realistic and helpful beliefs. Using the ART protocol, a person can create different thoughts about an event or belief system, not forgetting facts but replacing the negative sensations and beliefs. In ART they say, “keep the knowledge, lose the pain.” By challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs, individuals are able to change their reactions and behaviors.
Through the application of ART, clients can see their experiences and events differently. It is not brainwashing or hypnosis, but simply helping the brain do what it is designed to do, heal.
Who Benefits from ART?
ART can be particularly useful for individuals who have not found success with traditional talk therapy or medication. Additionally, because it is a relatively short-term therapy—typically only 1-3 sessions—it can be beneficial for those who may not have the time or resources to commit to longer forms of treatment. Only licensed therapists are allowed to be trained in ART and this helps to ensure client safety and provision by a person who is trained in counseling.
Reported Effects of ART
Some of the reported positive effects of Accelerated Resolution Therapy include:
- Decreased symptoms of PTSD
- Improved coping skills
- Increased self-esteem
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Improved relationships
- Improved quality of life
Additionally, studies have shown that ART can lead to a decrease in medication usage for individuals suffering from mental health issues.
ART Therapy for Trauma
Overall, ART has shown to be a quick and effective form of therapy for individuals struggling with traumatic experiences. It is also important to note that, unlike some other forms of therapy, ART does not require individuals to relive or talk about their traumatic experiences in detail. This can be beneficial for those who may not feel comfortable or ready to discuss the events that led to their trauma.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy can be a valuable tool for helping individuals overcome the negative effects of trauma and improve their well-being. It can also be a helpful complement to other forms of addiction treatment such as medication and 12-step programs.
Possible Concerns with ART
One of the concerns with ART is that it can potentially trigger or worsen symptoms of trauma. This type of therapy uses visualization and imagination which can be triggering for some individuals who have experienced trauma. Uncomfortable sensations from past traumas are addressed during ART to reduce physical, emotional, and mental discomfort related to past events.
Additionally, ART relies heavily on the therapist's ability to guide the individual through their visualizations and imagery. If the therapist is not properly trained or experienced in this type of therapy, they may not be able to effectively support the individual through these processes.
It is important for individuals considering ART to thoroughly discuss any potential risks with their therapist and ensure that they feel safe and comfortable with the process before beginning treatment.
As part of their ART training, ART therapists learn about the neuroscience behind trauma and how it affects the brain. They also receive instruction on using specific techniques, such as eye movement or re-imagination, to help clients process and resolve their traumatic experiences. Additionally, they are trained in ethical considerations and communication skills necessary for effectively guiding clients through the therapy process.
ART therapists are equipped with a thorough understanding of trauma and specialized tools to support individuals in resolving their trauma and moving forward in life.
If you are interested in trying ART for yourself or a loved one, it is important to find a therapist trained and certified in the method. The International Association of Accelerated Resolution Therapy provides a directory of certified ART therapists on their website.
ART at Soberman’s Estate
Jerry Ehmann, who is our clinical director, is trained in EMDR therapy and holds a Master Level Certification in ART training. He has participated in the training of Basic ART and has been using ART for over six years.
Are you struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic event? Accelerated Resolution Therapy is an evidence-based approach that can help. Combining eye movements and cognitive techniques, ART has been proven to alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse issues, addictions, and eating disorders.
Take your life back today! Reach out for support through Accelerated Resolution Therapy now!