What Is ART?
is an eye-movement therapy. The person in therapy moves their eyes back and forth following the therapistís hand, and the therapist gives specific directions before each set of eye movements. ART draws on a number of other established and evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral theory
, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
. However, it is unique in being a procedurally oriented therapy. Other therapies typically focus on the content of the personís thoughts and emotions.
Since ART is procedurally oriented, the person in therapy doesnít have to talk about what happened. This makes the approach great when working with people who may have trouble talking about their emotions
, as might some individuals in the military. It also may be easier on the therapist, who doesnít have to experience secondary (vicarious) trauma
as a result of hearing about terrible things.
ART Is Said to Work Quickly
Very rapid healing is a hallmark of accelerated resolution therapy. Many therapists trained in ART report people can heal from a single traumatic eventósuch as an auto accident, assault, or witnessing an atrocityóin as little as one session. Some therapists report healing phobias
in one session as well.
I recently watched the developer of ART, Laney Rosenzweig, heal a woman from two phobias in less than an hour. These very rapid results may seem unbelievable to someone familiar only with other therapies. Most of the evidence-based therapies for treating posttraumatic stress expect to take between 12 and 20 sessions to be effective. ART, meanwhile, has been shown to be effective in only three to five sessions in scientific studies of both military and civilian populations (Kip et al., 2012; Kip et al., 2013; Kip et al., 2014). It was even shown to be effective working with a population of homeless veterans (Kip et al., 2016). Some of them didnít complete treatment because they found jobs or housing, but despite this, a study found a success rate of over 50%.
One consideration when choosing a therapy is how likely the person is to complete the full course of treatment. The longer a therapy takes to complete, the less likely it is the person will complete it. Because ART is such a brief treatment, more people may be likely to complete a course using this approach to healing.
How ART Differs from EMDR
Col. Charles Hoge, an Army psychiatrist
who trained in both EMDR and ART, compared the two and noted 10 points of difference (Hoge, 2015). Some of the major ones are:
- EMDR uses a variable number of eye movements, while ART uses a fixed number.
- EMDR uses free association, while ART therapists are directive.
- EMDR pays attention to content, whereas ART therapists focus on visual imagery and emotional sensations.
- EMDR is content-oriented, while ART has a procedural orientation.