Imagine if your anxiety could be completely eradicated, or at least significantly decreased, in a one hour therapy session. Researchers from the University of South Florida suggest that this is now a possibility for soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The therapy, known as Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), combines rapid eye movements with traditional talk therapy to aid patients with their PTSD symptoms. ART boasts significantly shorter recovery times when compared to traditional therapies endorsed by the Veteran's Administration (VA) and the Department of Defense.
According to Kevin Kip, PhD, FAHA, professor, and executive director of the Research Center at the University of South Florida College of Nursing, the results are so fast, that the patient sees noticeable improvement in a few sessions. Based on these findings from the 57 participants in the study, Kip concluded that, “accelerated resolution therapy may provide the quickest way to effectively and safely treat post-traumatic stress disorder."
What Can Accelerated Resolution Therapy Do For PTSD Patients?
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) uses elements of traditional therapy, but can elicit a more significant recovery rate. The session begins with the patient visualizing a prior traumatic experience that causes anxious side effects (sweating, rapid heart rate, etc.). Then, the patient follows the clinician's hand with his eyes as it makes a rapid left to right movements. The eye movements caused by the patient following the clinician's hand is conducive to sorting out problems by increasing activity in the left and right sides of the brain. While the clinician is doing this, she also leads the patient through talk therapy. These actions minimize the negative sensations associated with the memory the patient has evoked. After that, the clinician aids the patient in replacing the distressing images so that they can no longer be accessed.
Just how fast does this method work? USF researchers boast noticeable improvement in two to five one-hour sessions. “In an average of less than four ART sessions, participants had very substantially reduced symptoms of PTSD," Dr. Kip said. Those who had received the other treatment had not improved as much.
When Can You Start Treating PTSD With Accelerated Resolution Therapy?
But ART is not yet endorsed by the VA or the Department of Defense because ART is relatively new to the field and needs more extensive testing before it can be deemed a viable method to treat PTSD. Further trials with ART and greater research on how exactly it works to treat PTSD are a necessary part of the approval process.
But do not lose hope if you are a patient with PTSD seeking help. Other treatments for PTSD are available and can help you to move on from the traumatic experience.
Date of original publication: January 10, 2014.
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