Accelerated Resolution Therapy: Recoding Memories as Safe
A mail carrier can no longer do their job after being attacked by a dog. She loved being out in the community and talking to people. She has had many great experiences as a mail carrier. After she was attacked while on the job, that scene is the one she plays and it stops her from being able to do the job that she wants to do.
She has developed anxiety, grief, and a phobia all over this one scene that has become a huge part of her. Accelerated resolution therapy is a type of therapy that retrains how your brain processes specific scenes like this one from the mail carrier.
Many people have nightmare images stored in their brains. These images play over and over keeping them on high alert. People suffering from PTSD, phobias, grief, anxiety, addiction, or depression can benefit from accelerated resolution therapy (A.R.T.).
The goal of A.R.T is to turn off the alarm bells. To keep the knowledge of what has happened but remove the horrific images. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? This is an evidence-based approach that has had amazing results for so many people.
Even more amazing is how quickly clients see success. This therapy is delivered in 1-5, 60 minute sessions. A.R.T. is for people who are looking to reduce symptoms related to traumatic or stress-inducing memories. Many individuals are also drawn to ART because one can move through the entire therapeutic process without having to share traumatic memories with the therapist.
Techniques Used in Accelerated Resolution Therapy
There are several techniques incorporated in A.R.T. that changes the way stressful memories are stored in the brain.
- Rapid eye movement – mimics eye movement that occurs during dreams. REM is a learning state and here is where you are relearning images from the past to reset to a pre-trauma state.
- Image rescripting – is where you rewrite the trauma scene. Many people are able to use an adult view to reevaluate childhood scenes. With a new script, negative images can change to positive ones.
- Guided imagery – allows the therapist to guide the scenes and keep the client in a calm state. The facts stay but the feelings attached to those facts leave.
- Exposure – helps trauma survivors finish connecting unprocessed traumatic memories with who they are now. A technique used to get rid of the negative associations tied to the memories.
Emotional memories go through change every time that they are recalled. Every time a memory is accessed there is a brief time where that memory is reachable for reconsideration. A.R.T. takes advantage of this window of time and recodes the fear-based memories as safe.
The Process of Recalling Memories
As the client recalls memories, the therapist uses techniques to guide the triggered response. They reduce the physiological distress that comes with the memories by instructing the person to pause the recall processing.
They are encouraged to develop solutions to their traumatic experiences during interactive portions of A.R.T. The therapist helps shift the memory to something positive using image rescripting.
Individuals have the ability to remove items or people within a memory and replace it with something more comforting. There are a lot of ways to rewrite the memories so that the associations can become positive. The negative images are erased.
Body Scans to Remain Calm
The memory recall phase can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Body scans are used to bring the client’s attention to their bodily sensations. This provides relief as they can step outside the memory and focus on their own present.
The therapist helps the client to alternate between memory processing and bodily awareness. Creating solutions for the memories when calm.
The client sets the pace with recalling memories. They choose which memories are shared and when.
The techniques are meant to provide quick relief of symptoms as they arrive. Making the recall process a positive experience.
Research shows when positive experiences are woven with traumatic memories, the negative memories become less invasive. Accelerated resolution therapy allows the client to find peace and closure from traumatic events.
These traumatic events are at the root of so many disorders that spill over into all areas of life. Depression takes its toll on work, family, and day to day functioning. There may be traumatic scenes that keep depression, anxiety, or grief at the forefront of your mental health. These images can be redone with the help of a therapist and these proven A.R.T. techniques.
If you think you may benefit from accelerated resolution therapy, reach out to me at 813-419-7963.