The New Trauma Modality
Those with a severe anxiety disorder such as PTSD, phobias, or OCD, might find that there are certain things they are no longer able to do because of their disorders. They might have memories that they completely avoid, or they might feel unsafe in situations others might not think twice about.
Those with these anxiety disorders might want to seek treatment, but the issue is that many treatments for these conditions take a lot of time and can be expensive. Thankfully, there is a treatment called accelerated resolution therapy, or ART, that is designed to speed up the treatment process for anxiety conditions.
What Is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?
Accelerated resolution therapy (ART) is a new trauma treatment modality that was developed by a therapist named Laney Rosenzweig.
The treatment is still very new as it was only created just a decade ago, but there has been a lot of promising evidence that it can be successful. In 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mntal Health Services Administration classified it as an evidence-based treatment modality.
The Difference Between EMDR and ART
Rosenzweig initially practiced eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). During her practice, she developed a newer method that is similar to, but much faster than EMDR, which is a therapy that uses eye movements as a way to reprocess traumatic memories. The issue she found with EMDR is that it often took multiple sessions to process the traumatic memories that contribute to the person’s anxiety and PTSD.
The difference with ART is that it is a quicker process. Instead of multiple sessions, disturbing memories can often be resolved within a single session that only lasts between 60 to 90 minutes.
Many who partake in ART find that this expedited process is efficient, but also a more cost-effective solution. Instead of multiple prolonged sessions, a person can resolve a traumatic experience in one single session, therefore spending less money hourly.
How It Works
ART targets memories and the emotions connected to them, instead of symptoms like other forms of therapy usually do. In a session, a client will talk about what issues they might have, such as a specific traumatic event, or a series of traumatic events that are causing emotional distress. The therapist will then ask the patient to think about that event as if they are telling the story.
For example, if a person experienced sexual abuse or military-related trauma, they can think about the events leading up to the traumatic experience and then the trauma itself. The therapist helps the person desensitize from these memories through eye movements. The brain does most of the work by sorting these thoughts that were previously only free-floating pieces of information.
A Resolution Focused Therapy
Traditional therapies often only address symptoms, but ART aims to focus on the person’s story and how it is related to their identity. It targets the event itself and how the person is connected with it. It focuses on the entire excuse around the trauma and not just the PTSD itself. Because the entire story and events around the trauma are addressed, instead of just the event itself, the person can come to terms with the entire situation. The purpose of ART is resolution. The goal of each session is for the feelings, fears, and anxieties associated with the memory addressed to be resolved.
The Benefits of ART
A Faster Technique
The great thing about ART is how quick resolution can be. The short amount of time it takes for a person to process and resolve these memories means faster relief from extreme symptoms of anxiety that are often brought on by traumatic experiences. After a single session, many patients can resume activities they could not engage in before, even if they had related anxiety for decades.
An Interactive Experience
This form of therapy is great for people who are not interested in talking or listening as a form of therapy, since it is more interactive. Patients think about the memory and the story behind their trauma while the therapist guides them through eye movements.
Easier on the Patient and Therapist
A major issue with many forms of psychotherapy is that some people do not feel comfortable talking about their traumatic experiences. Sometimes this is due to discomfort with disclosing traumatic and emotionally difficult experiences with a stranger, while others do not wish to relive their experiences.
The therapist also benefits by avoiding secondary traumatization from hearing about these adverse experiences or developing compassion fatigue as a result of hearing about difficult experiences every day. The therapist usually talks to the patient and guides them, while their brain does the rest of the work. It can also sometimes be relaxing for the patient.
Changing the Way You Feel About Your Trauma
Ultimately, the results of ART do not erase a person's trauma or memories. Instead, it can help the person feel differently about their trauma. Following treatment, their trauma likely will not bother them the way it used to. They can think back to the experience without feeling extreme distress. ART can also change the images in their minds, especially those that are disturbing or difficult to remember.
This form of therapy can be effective for any traumatic experience that needs resolution. It is especially effective if there is a singular event a person can point to as the source of their trauma, but it can still be effective if the PTSD or anxiety is a culmination of many smaller events. They can recall these events and how they made them feel, then make peace with them.