Have you been feeling overwhelmed by your child’s anxiety, anger outbursts, or emotional shut downs? It can be so difficult to see your child or teen struggle with a problem you’re not sure how to solve. Let me tell you about something that could help! A few years ago I was introduced to Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). I remember being blown away because ART boasted that it could stop a client from feeling super anxious, stop trauma flashbacks, stop a phobia in its tracks, or even help build someone’s confidence about doing a work presentation in as little as 1 session. I thought, “no way!” But then after doing more research I decided to invest in the training to become a certified ART therapist. During the training, I had to be the “client” and go through an ART session myself and I am still in awe at the outcome. Let me break ART down for you!
ART is a type of therapy that uses techniques including rapid eye movement and voluntary image replacement to change how negative memories are stored in the brain. So basically, the client sits about two feet away from me and follows my hand back and forth with their eyes, while recalling a troubling memory. Imagine you could turn the intensity of an emotion down the same way you turn down the volume down on the TV. That is how ART works. The rapid eye movement helps a client to move from strong upsetting feelings into calm and comforting feelings, while modifying how the upsetting memory is stored. The emotions and sensations associated with the memory are processed through and desensitized. Essentially, we “grab” each uncomfortable feeling and sensation and do the rapid eye movements until the client starts to have positive feelings. It sounds strange…and honestly it feels strange to repeatedly move your eyes back and forth, but it creates a calming sensation. Then I have the client re-imagine the memory they wish they had instead of the one they came in with. I know when I first heard about the eye movements, my mind immediately went to hypnotism. It’s not hypnotism and you don’t lose your memories, they just become less intense and more difficult to recall. I like to think we each have a filing cabinet in our brains. ART helps you to file that troubling memory or belief about yourself (i.e. I am worthless) wayyyyyyyyy in the back of the bottom drawer.
ART has helped people overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, phobias, grief, and associated symptoms. The effects of ART are typically noticed after one to five sessions. There are no negative side effects to ART and the client does not have to speak about their upsetting memory if they do not want to but are welcome to do so if they feel comfortable. I know this has been really helpful when I’ve worked with kids who have trouble trusting therapists. They don’t want to actually talk about their upsetting memory, but want to stop feeling bad, so ART is great for those more guarded kids. An ART session takes between 60 and 90 minutes and it is most effective when the client completes at least one session a week over consecutive weeks. In order to participate in ART, a client must be able to follow my hand back and forth with their eyes, have an imagination, and be able to stay seated and focused for about an hour. It is appropriate for ages 6 and up, though I would meet with a child for an initial trust building session and assess whether they would be appropriate for ART.
To protect client confidentiality, here is an amalgamation of several clients I’ve worked with to illustrate how ART can help: A child that had experienced abuse was having trouble concentrating due to frequent flashbacks to the abuse. They would lose focus in class, they would jump at unexpected sounds, and they were very fearful of men that resembled their abuser. At the initial ART session, the client’s distress was noticeable and intense. They were shaking their legs, their eyes were darting between me, the wall, and the door, and I could see sweat collecting in their palms. They completed one session of ART…and their flashbacks stopped entirely. By the second session, they were calm and relaxed and said they were excited to “do the weird eye thingy” again! By the conclusion of the ART treatment, the client was able to speak about their trauma without having any emotional reaction. They described it as feeling like they were speaking about something that happened to someone else and not the life-changing trauma that had happened to them.
ART can be done in combination with traditional talk therapy, so if your child has built a really great relationship with another therapist, no need to stress about stopping treatment with that therapist. For children referred to me who do not already have therapists, I am happy to spend some time building trust with them through games and traditional talk therapy, to help them get comfortable with therapy. Often times, after a child completes ART treatment, they choose to continue seeing me for talk therapy, so that is an option as well. The cost of ART through True North Counseling Services is $145 per session. If you would like to discuss ART further or schedule an intake, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-209-3969.