Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is an evidence-based, rapid-eye-movement therapy that uses a revolutionary approach to treating anxiety, depression, trauma, post-traumatic stress (PTS), panic attacks, self-esteem challenges, sleep disturbances, phobias, grief, and other mental health conditions. Research has demonstrated, and clients often report, that ART therapy achieves rapid relief in as few as 1-5 sessions, even for emotional challenges that have been experienced for decades.
ART has a unique approach and protocols in that it does not require discussing trauma details, and the process itself is calming. However, the theory and some components that lie behind ART (like memory reconsolidation and bilateral eye movements) are aligned with EMDR, another trauma-focused therapy, as is the effectiveness in rapid results achieved, although ART often produces results faster than EMDR.
Who is ART For and What Can ART Treat?
ART is for people who have not found relief from traditional talk therapy. ART is for people who feel stuck, even if they’re currently in therapy, or are struggling with negative, intrusive thoughts, images and feelings. ART is for people who aren’t comfortable talking about the details of their trauma history or don’t want to have to do so repeatedly. ART is for those who want relief sooner rather than later.
ART has been used to quickly and effectively treat the following issues (often even if the client isn’t sure of the origins of their issue), and clients can experience benefits starting in the first session:
Anxiety & Dyslexia Anxiety
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)
Addictions/ Substance Abuse
Victimization/Poor Self Image
There are three criteria that are essential for ART’s success: An individual needs to be able to hold onto thoughts for the duration of the session. An individual needs to be able to move their eyes in a sustained way throughout the session, and an individual has to be motivated.
How Does ART Work? (And How Does ART Work So Quickly?)
Being able to effectively and reliably get around our prefrontal cortex or ‘thinking brain’ to access the amygdala and limbic system where the trauma lives, quickly and with less distress, is one of the reasons ART is the premier modality for working to provide relief and often resolution of many trauma (and other) symptoms.
The ART protocol offers an efficient, effective, and creative technique for treating a whole host of mental health symptoms and issues, and it does so by utilizing a unique combination of eye movements along with the ART protocol, which creatively incorporates other well-established therapies like Gestalt, Psychodynamic Therapy, Guided Imagery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure (imaginal and in-vivo), relaxation techniques, stress inoculation, and rescripting of negative images.
This unique protocol, which also includes relaxing eye movements, facilitates a technique called Voluntary Image Replacement; the ART process helps clients change the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions.
Voluntary Image Replacement is made possible because the brain, when recalling emotion-laden material, goes through a process called memory malleability where memories remain malleable or changeable for about 6 hours after being accessed or recalled. Scientists call this Memory Reconsolidation, and the 6-hour window in which the memories remain malleable the Reconsolidation Window.
A therapist trained in the ART protocol helps a client initiate memory malleability by having them recall a distressing image, then utilizes the memory malleability afforded during the Reconsolidation Window it opens up to facilitate the client replacing distressing images laced with fear, anger, sadness, etc. with new memories that are pleasant, calming and even joyful.
Clients will still remember the distressing facts about the trauma they experienced, but the brain will focus on the positive images and sensations that replaced the distressing ones, and clients will often report they still have the knowledge of what occurred, but they’ve now lost the pain of it. The entire process often results in a more rapid and complete recovery than many other evidence-based therapies.
And studies to date demonstrate that the new images the client creates, along with the accompanying positive feelings and relief associated with the new memories will be long-lasting.
An added bonus of the ART protocol is that the client remains in control during the entire experience, both in terms of which content they choose to work on and which images they choose to replace, and in terms of how much they choose to disclose about both distressing and positive content and images.
What is the Experience Like For ART Clients?
The session begins with me having you do a set of eye movements to help you move sensations in your body. This is both calming and allows us to confirm that ART is working for you.
You’ll then undergo sets of eye movements while silently recalling the traumatic scene. This is often the most challenging portion of the session, but it only lasts from 30 seconds to about 10 minutes.
As we proceed through the ART protocol, any challenging physical and emotional sensations you may experience are addressed and processed out while you do the eye movements, which many find relaxing and positive.
As mentioned prior, the ART protocol facilitates Voluntary Image Replacement once the memories become malleable. This allows you to change, adjust or replace any distressing aspects of the images you’re seeing.
An added bonus of the ART protocol is that you may find that information stored in your memory that you may not have recalled prior to beginning the ART session is now accessible to you, and in a way that helps provide greater insight into some aspects of yourself and/or your prior experiences.
By the session’s end, most clients find they are not just more relaxed and calm, but the images, memories, and emotions that caused distress, often for months or years, have been replaced with positive images and sensations, and many clients come away feeling relieved and unburdened, and even joyful.
Is ART Evidence-Based?
ART is recognized as an evidence-based therapy by the American Psychological Association (APA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). There have been numerous peer-reviewed papers that have been published proving the benefits of ART, with many more in progress, as well as many reviews of ART’s efficacy. Below are a handful of studies and reviews: