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What even is ART therapy, anyway?

A Spicy Therapy Stew for Spicy Trauma Memories

When I tell people I’m an ART therapist they either expect me to be carrying around a pocketful of crayons or they think, “ohh, so that’s why you dress like a liberals arts college professor.”

Unfortunately I don't get to spend my days drawing pictures with kids, in fact I can barely draw a stick figure most days. HOWEVER - almost as good - I get to use a unique somatic-based therapy to facilitate a profound impact on people’s journeys of healing from trauma.

I received my training in Accelerated Resolution Therapy in 2018 and have used it in a variety of settings for a variety of issues. I have seen it help so many people that I wanted to answer the question - “what even is ART therapy, anyway?” Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART for short) was developed by mental health clinician Laney Rosenzweig in 2008. Laney had received Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) training, but wanted a more succinct and structured approach. So she developed a model using elements of EMDR, Exposure Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Imagery Rescripting/Guided Imagery, and Brief Psychodynamic Therapy. The best way I can describe Accelerated Resolution Therapy is that it is sort of a stew (or hot dish if you are from Minnesota) that combines all of these into a delicious recipe for trauma treatment that is ready to enjoy in just an hour! (This stew can also be enjoyed by people seeking help for OCD thoughts and compulsions, eating disordered thoughts, self-harm impulses, overwhelming cognitive distortions, insomnia, rejection sensitivity, and chronic pain)

Bilateral eye movement and their psychological benefits were discovered by the creator of EMDR, Francine Shapiro. Essentially, moving your eyes quickly back and forth mimics eye movements during REM sleep - this is theorized to aid in memory recall and integration. This therapy is typically suggested for 1-3 sessions but can include more if you have concerns of complex PTSD or want to address multiple events. In the ART session we will target a traumatic memory or distressing symptoms that impact functioning. You don’t have to share any specific details of what we are working on with ART, which makes it a great option for individuals that would prefer less disclosure. We will process the memory or event together and then move into the voluntary image replacement phase of the treatment. The session then ends in a way that many of my clients describe as peaceful.

My favorite thing about ART is that I can provide this intervention for clients and they have the power to share with me as much or as little of their trauma as THEY choose. This makes it a great option for Mental Health First Aid or in conjunction with work you are doing with another therapist.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy isn’t always a one-size-fits-all treatment and it may not provide the benefits discussed in this post. It’s a good idea to talk with your current therapist about whether ART would be a good fit for you, or contact me to set up an intake session to review fit.

After all, December is a great opportunity to explore the possibility of new ways of healing. Just like trying out a new recipe, ART can be a new favorite dish to add to your mental health care routine.

Please drop a comment below with any questions or positive experiences you’ve had with accelerated resolution therapy!

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