What Is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

Sense memories can activate trauma responses in the body when triggered. The symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues all contribute to the stressors that can set off trauma responses in individuals recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). According to research published in Clinical Psychology, “The comorbid presentation of PTSD and SUDs is remarkably common, and . . . PTSD/SUD patients often report greater functional impairment and experience poorer treatment outcomes.”

At Healing Pines Recovery, we use various treatment methods, including accelerated resolution therapy (ART), to address sense memories that cause negative intrusive mental images, emotional distress, flashbacks, or uncomfortable sensations. Clients who have PTSD and co-occurring SUD often have difficulty identifying and overcoming the underlying cause of the trauma. Accelerated resolution therapy makes the process much more straightforward.

What Is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

Accelerated resolution therapy is a psychotherapy that uses eye movement exercises and aspects of gestalt to overcome mental blocks related to traumatic memories and events. The treatment is similar to eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Instead of focusing on exposure therapy, the therapist will use metaphors and mental imagery to replace the negative mental image with something positive.

The primary benefit of ART is how quickly clients see results. Many feel noticeably better within one or two sessions. Most clients will recover from lingering trauma responses within as little as four to six sessions.

Treatment of co-occurring disorders enhances the effect of individual and group therapy and reduces the risk of relapse. According to Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, “ART-based therapy assists patients in creating new images of past trauma they have experienced, using eye movements to enhance this process and increase relaxation.” ART goes beyond desensitizing the client and instead ensures they have a positive association with a previously traumatic memory. In some cases where other factors complicate the trauma, the process may take far longer.

Connections Between Trauma and Substance Misuse

Trauma can connect to substance misuse in several ways, including:

  • Substance misuse increases risk-taking behaviors and the likelihood of experiencing a traumatic event
  • Experiencing traumatic events increases the risk of being diagnosed with substance use or mental health disorders
  • Traumas or chronic stress and substance misuse might develop independently with entirely different underlying causes
  • Individuals suffering from the devastating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma-related issues might self-medicate to cope with the symptoms and develop a tolerance

To keep everyone feeling safe and secure during the rehabilitation process, we may instruct clients to attend multiple forms of therapy to simultaneously treat all underlying issues. Regular progress updates and goal development will help us keep clients on track with each session during their recovery.

Eye-Movement Desensitization

Treatments like EMDR use the body to unlock the brain by connecting specific movements to certain thoughts or memories. This method has been a legitimate therapeutic tool since the late 1980s. ART is a faster and generally less distressing alternative to EMDR. The primary difference is the duration of therapy and the process of achieving relief from trauma responses. EMDR is better suited for outpatient treatment programs and continuing care. For short-term residential or partial hospitalization programs (PHP), accelerated resolution therapy provides a much quicker alternative with equivalent emotional relief.

Eye-movement desensitization ensures that trauma gets processed safely and in a healthy way, allowing it to move from the nervous system to the long-term storage centers of the brain.

Benefits of Accelerated Resolution Therapy

ART treats individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder quickly and with the least amount of re-traumatization of the client or therapist. The benefits are enormous and potentially life-changing. Individuals who have struggled with addiction, anxiety, and trauma can move forward without the weight of painful memories getting in the way. Some health benefits of ART include:

  • Increased self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-esteem
  • Better quality sleep
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Pain reduction, including neuropathic pain relief
  • Enhanced mobility
  • Lower risk of relapse or overdose

Reframing traumatic moments in a lighthearted or neutral way can severely weaken the effects of SUD and provide relief to the client.

Processing Emotions and Coping With Triggers

Many individuals who participate in ART do not need to continue individual trauma therapy after completing rehabilitation. Replacing painful memories with neutral or positive ones is usually enough to help most people move forward with fewer symptoms related to trauma responses. ART makes it possible to go over a single memory once in a therapy session. The debilitating pain associated with that memory and the trauma responses linked to it will stop and allow clients the opportunity to heal and move forward with their lives.

Accelerated resolution therapy is one option available to individuals who have a history of trauma or chronic stress. ART is ideal for short-term residential rehabilitation programs like those offered at Healing Pines Recovery and provides rapid relief of symptoms with lasting effects.

Most individuals who participate in ART notice positive changes within the first two sessions, and many no longer experience trauma responses in as little as six individual sessions. Research indicates that ART can be a powerful tool for decreasing or eliminating some symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The expert clinicians at Healing Pines Recovery tailor treatment plans to meet each client’s unique needs to ensure the best possible outcome.

ART makes it possible to overcome challenges related to trauma in a safe and healthy way. Learn more about our services and treatment programs by calling our office today at 720-575-2621.

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