Thriving in Recovery: A New Approach to Tackling PTSD

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Not too long ago, I was released from prison after serving four years behind bars. And as you can imagine, my transition back into society involved some not-so-great side effects; one being a debilitating case of PTSD.

Plagued by uncontrollable anxiety, constant flashbacks and the inability to sleep or concentrate, I knew I needed professional help, but kept putting it on the backburner due to my financial situation.

It wasn’t until the kitten I’d just adopted contracted a rare – and fatal – bacterial virus (which brought its own fair share of trauma) that I knew it was time to stop making excuses.

Introducing A.R.T. Therapy

I booked an appointment with a therapist the next day and was soon introduced to something believed to alleviate the symptoms of my post-traumatic stress: Accelerated Resolution Therapy.

A.R.T. is a form of psychotherapy that uses back-and-forth eye movements to change the way in which negative images associated with a traumatic event are stored in the brain.

Its two major components of A.R.T. include eliminating the emotional and/or physical response associated with traumatic memories and re-envisioning these painful experiences with a powerful technique known as Voluntary Image Replacement. This occurs when a client processes out a past traumatic mental image and replaces it with a more positive image.

Although this new image is not an actual memory – it could be how you wished the past situation had played out – it restores mental health and peace of mind for the patient.

Can’t Deny the Results

In just a couple of sessions, it was like images from my sentencing hearing that had haunted me for years were inexplicably erased from my brain; almost like they’d never happened. Instead, when I thought about that particular event, I was left with an overall pleasant feeling, my mind conjuring up the positive images that I’d had inserted into my memory reel through A.R.T.

In a recent study by researchers at the University Of South Florida College Of Nursing, it was found that brief treatments with A.R.T. dramatically reduced symptoms of psychological trauma in both civilians and US service members and veterans.

It was also found to be a particularly promising alternative to traditional PTSD treatments, since it requires no drugs, has no serious adverse effects, and can improve symptoms in few therapy sessions – ultimately giving those suffering with this mental illness the ability to move forward with their lives.

Additional Reading: Vets Offered More Access to PTSD, Addiction Therapies

Image Source: Pixabay

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