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What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

Accelerated resolution therapy (ART) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that can replace negative images with positive ones by amending eye movements.

DBT Part 3: Accelerated Resolution Therapy

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What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

In this lesson we are going to talk about a type of therapy called accelerated resolution therapy, also known as ART. This therapy is used predominantly for post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as anxiety and depression. 

What is accelerated resolution therapy or ART?  Accelerated resolution therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses back and forth eye amendments to help individuals who are struggling with depression, anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. What I mean by back and forth moments is that the therapist will move her hand back and forth in front of the patient as the patient follows with their eyes.  ART is a very focused and limited therapy that helps produce quick and effective results. A session usually takes around one hour to complete but sessions can take anywhere from 35 minutes to up to an hour and a half or even longer, but usually around one hour.

The patient is in complete control during a session, and is not in hypnosis, so the patient is able to communicate during a session when not doing the eye movements.  The patient will tell the instructor the level of intensity of symptoms prior to starting the eye movements, as well as after completing the session. Both before and after the sessions, the instructor will have the patient rate on a scale from 0 to 10 their level of distress when they think about the trauma and how it impacts their life. 

Physical sensations can be brought up during a session such as anxiety and stress. And so patients will start feeling it in their body, their chest, and their shoulders. And what will happen is the instructor will utilize another set of eye movements to process any of the anxiety that comes up. Patients often are able to replace negative images with positive images and are able to recall those positive images instead of the negative ones after the session. 

So what that means is patients are actually able to erase the negative images from the trauma and replace them with something positive. The patients will always know what happens with the trauma, but a lot of times they will no longer be able to picture that trauma, that scene, as we replaced it with something more positive.

I have talked a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder, and I just wanted to go over exactly what that is. Post-Traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that can develop after a person has witnessed or lived through a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include nightmares, flashbacks, hyper arousal, avoidance, self harming ways of coping such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, insomnia and phobias. What I’ve seen while doing ART is that patients report back that they are no longer experiencing nightmares. The flashbacks have dissipated. Their anxiety has gone down. The depression has gone down there. They’re sleeping better. 

A typical ART session consists of the patient reliving their trauma like a movie scene in their head while following with their eyes the instructors back and forth hand movements.  After each set of eye movements on the trauma, the patient will do another set of eye movements focused on any symptoms or sensations that may have come up due to reliving the trauma. That means if any anxiety has come up and they start feeling tense in their body or any depression, then we would use another set of eye movements to help process out anything that may have come up.

After completing the entire scene, the patient will then relive it a second time while completing another set of eye movements. Usually the second time through, the patient experiences less anxiety because we’ve actually processed it out after the first time they saw their scene.  As well as the scene may move faster. It can be either more detailed or it can actually also be fuzzy.  Symptoms or sensations are processed using eye movements again after seeing the scene for the second time. 

The third time the patient is the director of their scene and is told to put in all the positive images they want so they can erase and replace the negative images. So this is where they’re actually going to be able to replace the negative images of their trauma with something more positive. An example of this is maybe the patient was involved in a car crash and since then all they can picture is the car crash. Well, after a session of ART and let’s say they replace it with something like them arriving at their destination without getting in the car crash. Now, no matter how hard they try to picture the car crash, they’ll no longer be able to picture it as they will now have changed the scene to something more positive with them arriving at their destination. 

After the director scene, if there are any negative snapshots left from the scene they came in with, the instructor will utilize eye movements to erase and replace those negative images.  Sometimes after we process a trauma there are still some negative snapshots left behind. And what will happen is the instructor will go through each snapshot and do another set of eye movements, erasing those negative snapshots and replacing them with something positive. Patient will then see the director’s scene again to strengthen it.  

Patients will also be asked to see themselves in the future without this problem while completing another set of the eye movements. So what we want to see is the patient focus on themselves in the future where this is no longer an issue for them.  Patients will end the session by rating the intensity of their trauma. Again, usually the intensity decreases quite a bit. It is not uncommon for patients who have come in with 10 out of 10 in distress to leave the session feeling zero out of 10. 

There’s also another type of therapy that is used with ART called ‘a typical day’. And what a typical day does is it goes through a typical day of negative thoughts and behaviors. For example, a patient who is struggling with cravings, would go through a typical day of having those cravings, and we actually will be able to change that scene to where they’re feeling more confident in themselves or not having cravings.  They’re feeling more positive. Typically a session consists of people reliving a typical day of them experiencing their symptoms and has them replace those negative symptoms or negative people and places with something positive.

After completing an ART session, patients typically want to go take a nap as they have just processed a lot as well as the eye movements can make you very tired. Usually, patients will have one of the best night’s sleep that they’ve had in a very long time. After having a session, flashbacks and nightmares have been seemed to dissipate. One thing with ART, after we process one traumatic event, it can bring up another traumatic event that may have been blocked out due to this trauma. If that’s the case, then we would do another ART session to process that trauma. 

There are some other uses for ART. It can also help with many more mental health problems, such as family issues, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, addictions, performance anxiety, poor self image, grief and loss, pain management, relationship issues and other stressful situations as well.

Thank you for choosing The Recovery Village.  If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse and would like to find out more about the programs we offer, please reach out to us directly at 855-387-3291.

Summary:

Accelerated resolution therapy or ART is psychotherapy that relies on eye movements as part of the process to recall negative memories and replace them with positive images. This type of therapy is limited and highly focused. ART may be used for PTSD, depression, anxiety and phobias.

This video guides you through the specific components of ART and how it works for patients.

Video Materials:

What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

In this lesson we are going to talk about a type of therapy called accelerated resolution therapy, also known as ART. This therapy is used predominantly for post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as anxiety and depression. 

What is accelerated resolution therapy or ART?  Accelerated resolution therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses back and forth eye amendments to help individuals who are struggling with depression, anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. What I mean by back and forth moments is that the therapist will move her hand back and forth in front of the patient as the patient follows with their eyes.  ART is a very focused and limited therapy that helps produce quick and effective results. A session usually takes around one hour to complete but sessions can take anywhere from 35 minutes to up to an hour and a half or even longer, but usually around one hour.

The patient is in complete control during a session, and is not in hypnosis, so the patient is able to communicate during a session when not doing the eye movements.  The patient will tell the instructor the level of intensity of symptoms prior to starting the eye movements, as well as after completing the session. Both before and after the sessions, the instructor will have the patient rate on a scale from 0 to 10 their level of distress when they think about the trauma and how it impacts their life. 

Physical sensations can be brought up during a session such as anxiety and stress. And so patients will start feeling it in their body, their chest, and their shoulders. And what will happen is the instructor will utilize another set of eye movements to process any of the anxiety that comes up. Patients often are able to replace negative images with positive images and are able to recall those positive images instead of the negative ones after the session. 

So what that means is patients are actually able to erase the negative images from the trauma and replace them with something positive. The patients will always know what happens with the trauma, but a lot of times they will no longer be able to picture that trauma, that scene, as we replaced it with something more positive.

I have talked a lot about post-traumatic stress disorder, and I just wanted to go over exactly what that is. Post-Traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that can develop after a person has witnessed or lived through a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD can include nightmares, flashbacks, hyper arousal, avoidance, self harming ways of coping such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression, insomnia and phobias. What I’ve seen while doing ART is that patients report back that they are no longer experiencing nightmares. The flashbacks have dissipated. Their anxiety has gone down. The depression has gone down there. They’re sleeping better. 

A typical ART session consists of the patient reliving their trauma like a movie scene in their head while following with their eyes the instructors back and forth hand movements.  After each set of eye movements on the trauma, the patient will do another set of eye movements focused on any symptoms or sensations that may have come up due to reliving the trauma. That means if any anxiety has come up and they start feeling tense in their body or any depression, then we would use another set of eye movements to help process out anything that may have come up.

After completing the entire scene, the patient will then relive it a second time while completing another set of eye movements. Usually the second time through, the patient experiences less anxiety because we’ve actually processed it out after the first time they saw their scene.  As well as the scene may move faster. It can be either more detailed or it can actually also be fuzzy.  Symptoms or sensations are processed using eye movements again after seeing the scene for the second time. 

The third time the patient is the director of their scene and is told to put in all the positive images they want so they can erase and replace the negative images. So this is where they’re actually going to be able to replace the negative images of their trauma with something more positive. An example of this is maybe the patient was involved in a car crash and since then all they can picture is the car crash. Well, after a session of ART and let’s say they replace it with something like them arriving at their destination without getting in the car crash. Now, no matter how hard they try to picture the car crash, they’ll no longer be able to picture it as they will now have changed the scene to something more positive with them arriving at their destination. 

After the director scene, if there are any negative snapshots left from the scene they came in with, the instructor will utilize eye movements to erase and replace those negative images.  Sometimes after we process a trauma there are still some negative snapshots left behind. And what will happen is the instructor will go through each snapshot and do another set of eye movements, erasing those negative snapshots and replacing them with something positive. Patient will then see the director’s scene again to strengthen it.  

Patients will also be asked to see themselves in the future without this problem while completing another set of the eye movements. So what we want to see is the patient focus on themselves in the future where this is no longer an issue for them.  Patients will end the session by rating the intensity of their trauma. Again, usually the intensity decreases quite a bit. It is not uncommon for patients who have come in with 10 out of 10 in distress to leave the session feeling zero out of 10. 

There’s also another type of therapy that is used with ART called ‘a typical day’. And what a typical day does is it goes through a typical day of negative thoughts and behaviors. For example, a patient who is struggling with cravings, would go through a typical day of having those cravings, and we actually will be able to change that scene to where they’re feeling more confident in themselves or not having cravings.  They’re feeling more positive. Typically a session consists of people reliving a typical day of them experiencing their symptoms and has them replace those negative symptoms or negative people and places with something positive.

After completing an ART session, patients typically want to go take a nap as they have just processed a lot as well as the eye movements can make you very tired. Usually, patients will have one of the best night’s sleep that they’ve had in a very long time. After having a session, flashbacks and nightmares have been seemed to dissipate. One thing with ART, after we process one traumatic event, it can bring up another traumatic event that may have been blocked out due to this trauma. If that’s the case, then we would do another ART session to process that trauma. 

There are some other uses for ART. It can also help with many more mental health problems, such as family issues, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, addictions, performance anxiety, poor self image, grief and loss, pain management, relationship issues and other stressful situations as well.

Thank you for choosing The Recovery Village.  If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse and would like to find out more about the programs we offer, please reach out to us directly at 855-387-3291.

Other Addiction & Mental Health Resources

The Recovery Village has several, free resources for those living with addiction or mental health conditions and their loved ones. From videos, to clinically-hosted webinars and recovery meetings, to helpful, medically-reviewed articles, there is something for everyone. If you need more direct help, please reach out to one of our representatives.

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