All About Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

Contributed By: Dr. Ashton Peltz

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a one-on-one form of psychotherapy that is rooted in other evidence-based therapies; however, it is shown to achieve more rapid benefits. This approach helps decrease the effects of trauma and other psychological stressors.

ART was developed utilizing the foundations of Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in combination with directive guidelines pulled from other forms of psychotherapy. More specifically, ART implements exposure techniques, imagery rescripting, rapid eye movement, metaphorical intervention, and guided imagery. Through the use of these techniques, ART therapists help change the way distressing images are stored in the brain, which in turn reduces physiological and emotional impacts.

ART resembles other forms of therapy such as EMDR; however, there are many facets that make ART unique. Specifically, ART gives specific directives while EMDR provides general guidelines. Through the ART process, the clinician is directive and interactive in helping the client reduce physiological or emotional distress associated with a painful memory. The ART therapist will help guide the client to shift a traumatic memory to something more positive through utilizing imagery rescripting.

The type of imagery rescripting employed in ART is called voluntary image replacement. This helps individuals change the emotions and sensations associated with traumatic memories; however, the facts remain the same. In other words, we cannot go back in time and change an event, but we can reduce or eliminate the strong physiological and emotional response.

A final component that makes ART unique is the specificity and efficiency of the treatment. Research has demonstrated that ART is effective in reducing emotional distress in one to five sessions. Within ART there are specific scripts tailored toward targeting distinct issues.

ART has been proven effective in significantly reducing trauma related symptoms. It can also be used to treat many other difficulties:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Phobias
  • Grief and Loss
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

During a typical ART session, the clinician will begin by having the client do a body scan from head to toe. Once the client’s baseline levels of distress are identified, the therapist will have the client visualize a traumatic memory from beginning to end. Of note, during an ART session the client is not required to share details about the memory they are recalling. At this stage in the treatment, the rapid eye movements will begin. As physiological and emotional distress arises, the therapist will help the client desensitize throughout the visualization process. Additionally, during the visualization the therapist will guide the client through voluntary image replacement via the use of metaphors in order to foster positive sensations. The metaphors can be created by the client themselves and be carried into their daily lives. These techniques combined help decrease the level of distress associated with the memory.

One of my favorite parts of ART is that the client is in control and has the ability to use their own creativity to come up with metaphors that resonate with them to help expedite the healing process. If ART is something you are interested in or want to learn more about, feel free to reach out to us.

References:
Accelerated resolution therapy: How it works: Art international. ART International – Accelerated Resolution Therapy. (2020, November 19). Retrieved March 6, 2022, from https://artherapyinternational.org/blog/accelerated-resolution-therapy-how-it-works/
Kip, K. E., Sullivan, K. L., Lengacher, C. A., Rosenzweig, L., Hernandez, D. F., Kadel, R., Kozel, F. A., Shuman, A., Girling, S. A., Hardwick, M. J., & Diamond, D. M. (2013). Brief treatment of co-occurring post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms by use of accelerated resolution therapy(®). Frontiers in psychiatry, 4, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00011

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