If you’ve experienced trauma, it can be hard to find your old self again. Intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and avoidance of things that trigger the memories can affect every part of your life. Persistent feelings of fear or anger can make it difficult to focus or pay attention, leading to difficulties in school or at work. Relationships can suffer as you try to pull back from the world to maintain some semblance of control. People around you may not understand what’s happening, leading to feelings of isolation or abandonment.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a novel, evidence-based form of psychotherapy that can help. Utilizing the newer understanding of how memory reconsolidation works,,ART involves the skilled use of eye movements to process negative memories, images, and sensations to address the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and phobias.
ART is unique from other trauma-focused therapies in that you do not have to discuss or describe your trauma in detail and can share with the therapist as much or as little as feels comfortable. Additionally, throughout the session, focus is consistently brought back to processing and calming any distressing physical sensations or emotions that arise.
The idea of addressing trauma experiences in therapy can be daunting. However, those who have experienced ART sessions frequently report feeling lighter or more relaxed by the end of the session due to ART’s use of positive visualizations and a focus on processing body sensations. Additionally, fewer sessions may be required than in other trauma-focused therapies, as research suggests that ART may significantly reduce PTSD symptoms in as few as five sessions.
*For more information on Accelerated Resolution Therapy, visit ART International’s website at https://artherapyinternational.org.
- Monfils MH, Cowansage KK, Klann E, LeDoux JE. Extinction-reconsolidation boundaries: key to persistent attenuation of fear memories. Science 2009;324:951-955.
- Schiller D, Monfils MH, Raio CM, Johnson DC, LeDoux JE, Phelps EA. Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms. Nature 2010;363:49-54.
- Kip KE, Rosenzweig L, Hernandez DF, et. al. Randomized controlled trial of Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) for symptoms of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Military Medicine 2013; 178:1298-1309.
Elizabeth Wilkins, LMFT, LPC, BCN, BCB