WHAT IS Accelerated Resolution Therapy?
Accelerated resolution therapy, or ART, is a type of therapy that combines principles from several traditional forms of psychotherapy to reduce the effect of trauma and other psychological stressors. Using techniques such as rapid eye movement and image rescripting, this approach works to recondition stressful memories, changing how they are stored in the brain to improve overall mental health.
People seeking therapy to reduce the impact of symptoms related to traumatic or stress-inducing memories or increase their capacity for resilience within a relatively short timeframe may find ART beneficial.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy has roots in existing evidence-based therapies but it is shown to achieve benefits much more rapidly (usually within 1-5 sessions). Clients with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, sexual abuse and many other mental and physical conditions can experience remarkable benefits starting in the first session. ART is not hypnosis.
The client is always in control of the entire ART session, with the therapist guiding the process. Although some traumatic experiences such as rape, combat experiences, or loss of a loved one can be very painful to think about or visualize, the therapy rapidly moves clients beyond the place where they are stuck in these experiences toward growth and positive changes. The process is very straightforward, using relaxing eye movements and a technique called Voluntary Memory/Image Replacement to change the way in which the negative images are stored in the brain. The treatment is grounded in well-established psychotherapy techniques, and the end result is that traumas and difficult life experiences will no longer trigger strong emotions or physical reactions. Importantly, clients do not even have talk about their traumas or difficult life experiences with the therapist to achieve recovery.
Core Techniques of ART
ART utilizes the core techniques of evidence based PTSD treatment recognized by national organizations as well as the DoD and VA. ART incorporates a combination of techniques in a very unique and specific way.
A TYPICAL ART SESSION
A person who begins accelerated resolution therapy is often informed that they are in control of what happens. To begin a typical ART session, a therapist may start by asking the person to do a full body scan. After establishing a baseline for their physical status, the therapist could ask them to recall the distressing memory or image. Individuals are told to visualize the traumatic event in its entirety, not worrying about any gaps in memory. Rapid eye movement can be utilized at this stage, not only to facilitate visualizing the event, but also to help with any strong emotional or physical sensations that occur during this part of the process. The memory recall segment of the session can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
As the physical and emotional stressors emerge, ART therapists may use a desensitization procedure to reduce the physical and emotional impact of the memories. They may pause the visualization and ask the individual they are working with to do another body scan to slow the stress response. For example, if a woman reports shortness of breath and chest tightness while visualizing an experience of childhood sexual abuse, the therapist may instruct her to forget the scene and focus on her breathing until she is relaxed again. Bringing attention to bodily sensation can provide relief from any intense emotional responses that occur during visualization. Once the person is calm, the process will continue and may repeat, alternating between memory processing and bodily awareness. In this way, the stress response can be reduced gradually.
Throughout the visualization process, the therapist can also encourage the person they are working with to think of solutions for their targeted images or memories. This process, referred to in ART as voluntary image replacement, happens through rapid eye movement, use of metaphors, gestalt techniques, and other interventions that can promote positive sensation. The image rescripting process is similar to EMDR and other methods that treat issues like depression, nightmares, or insomnia and is an element of the ART session crucial to the treatment’s effectiveness. Research indicates that when trauma-related memories are integrated with positive experiences, distressing memories become less intrusive.
HOW CAN ART HELP?
Several studies show that in even a few sessions, ART can significantly reduce the symptoms of trauma-related issues. ART can be used to treat a variety of presenting issues, including the following:
How Accelerated Resolution Therapy Works
ART incorporates a combination of techniques used in many other traditional psychotherapies. ARTworks directly to reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions. ART accomplishes this through the use of rapid eye movements similar to eye movements that occur during dreaming. Although techniques similar to these are used in other types of therapies. ART’s very specific and directive approach can achieve rapid recovery from symptoms and reactions that may have been present for many years. ART combines long respected, sound treatment practices with safe and effective methods validated by current scientific research studies conducted by the University of South Florida.
Dr. Jeff Stull is Board Certified in
Accelerated Resolution Therapy
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
Accelerated resolution therapy was developed in 2008 by licensed marriage and family therapist, Laney Rosenzweig. ART was born from Laney’s experience with several treatment modalities, including eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Through her training and practice using EMDR, Laney found rapid eye movement beneficial in treatment but determined that modifying it could enhance the process. Rosenzweig created a set of standardized and directive guidelines based on multiple therapeutic frameworks, establishing ART as a treatment method.
In 2015, the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) officially recognized ART as an evidence-based practice, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) named ART an effective psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress (PTSD), depression, and personal resilience.
Veteran's Testimony Video
THEORY AND PRINCIPLES
ART incorporates elements of several treatment modalities, including EMDR, Gestalt, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and brief psychodynamic therapy (BPP). From these therapeutic frameworks, ART employs techniques like rapid eye movement, exposure, imagery rescripting, and guided imagery. Using these methods, ART practitioners can help change the way stress-inducing images are stored in the brain, reducing their negative physical and emotional effects.
To grasp the fundamentals of ART, it may help to understand how it is implemented. ART interventions can be used concurrently with other treatments, including pharmacotherapy. Individuals in therapy set the pace of ART sessions, choosing which memories are shared and when. Although the use of rapid eye movement mimics the eye movements that occur during dreams, ART does not involve hypnotherapy. Additionally, therapists do not assign homework, and ART does not require people to recall or process traumatic memories between sessions.
Although ART bears some resemblance to treatment modalities like EMDR and CBT, there are several aspects of ART that make it unique, including the following:
The ART of Rapid Recovery Laney Rosenzweig Video